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Exclusive: Government starts private consultation to amend Copyright Act

UPDATE (October 27): The deadline on this consultation has been extended to November 30.

You’re reading it here first: The Registrar of Copyrights has indicated that the government may soon make amendments to the Copyright Act, according to an email to industry associations and law firms reviewed by MediaNama. Three stakeholders confirmed to MediaNama that the email was authentic, as has the industry association Nasscom, which has put out a call for comments to its members on its forum. As has been the pattern of late with many government consultations — such as the one around New IP or software for emerging technologies — this is not an open consultation with public participation, but a private one circulated among industry stakeholders. We have reached out to the registrar of copyrights for a comment.

An amendment of the Copyright Act could have significant ramifications for technology policy — issues like digital rights management, online piracy, statutory licensing, intermediary liability, and live performances online are issues that the industry may push to formalise changes in. Indeed, the email sent by the government indicates that the changes it is considering will be largely digital in nature. “The copyright industries are performing [and] evolving in the light of changes brought about by use of internet, digitalization and an increasingly globalized market for digital content,” the email said.

The copyright registrar has set a November 4 November 30 deadline for comments. Nasscom has asked its members, meanwhile, to respond by October 26, so that it can formalise its own response. The Copyright Act was last amended in 2012, and included a controversial amendment that gave streaming services arguable leeway to license music unilaterally, a provision that was with little precedent globally, and later struck down (at least for streaming services) by the Bombay High Court.

Full text of Copyright Registrar’s email to stakeholders

Note that this is the initial communication sent to stakeholders. The November 4 deadline mentioned in this email has been extended to November 30.

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Subject: feedback/suggestions on Amendments to Copyright Act- reg

Dear Sir/ Madam,

As aware, the copyright law protects the rights of creators in respect of their original work. The Copyright Act, 1957 has been amended in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994 and 1999 to meet the national & international requirements. The latest amendment was made in the year 2012, bringing Indian copyright law into compliance with the latest World Intellectual Property Organization Treaties – the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) also known as “internet treaties”.

2. During the year 2016, the copyright office has been transferred to DPIIT from MHRD bringing all the major Intellectual Property laws under single umbrella. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of living and working. The copyright industries are performing & evolving in the light of changes brought about by use of internet, digitalization and an increasingly globalized market for digital content.

3. In view of the changed scenario, it is imperative to revisit the existing provisions of the Copyright Act & ascertain:-

“Whether there is a need for the amendment in the Copyright Act, 1957?”

If yes, kindly share your feedback/suggestions in respect of the provisions which need to be amended.

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4. The feedback/suggestions may be mailed at registrar.copyrights@gov.in latest by 4th Nov 2020.

Best Regards

Registrar of Copyrights

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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