No safeguards in Bill to check film piracy: Parl panel

No safeguards in Cinematograph Bill to check film piracy: Parliament panel

The Parliament building in New Delhi

A parliamentary standing committee has noted that the amendments proposed in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to check film piracy do not provide for “adequate safeguards” to the people who share film clip on various social media platforms as memes, jokes and for other non-commercial purposes.

Flagging the loophole, the House panel has asked the I&B Ministry to revisit the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and consider inclusion of “fair use” provision so that people using film clip or extract of movies for non-commercial purposes remain protected. “The bill should not inadvertently make criminals out of ordinary citizens,” the panel, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, stressed in its report to Parliament.

The panel pointed out that a large chunk of the population is active on social media, and more and more people are getting online every day, with the number of persons with access to mobile internet increasing day-by-day.

In the absence of the “fair use” provision in the Bill, the panel underlined, the apprehensions were raised that there will be no protection to “someone who forwards a film clip/short extract of movies as memes, jokes etc., for non-commercial purposes.”

“The Committee would like the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry to ensure that unreasonable restrictions are not imposed on them,” the it added.

The Bill seeks to deal with the menace of film piracy by introduction of stringent penal provisions for unauthorised camcording and digital duplication of films. It provides for handing down a maximum three years of imprisonment to the convicts of film piracy, and/or imposition of a a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh on them.

The House penal suggested the government to maximum limit of fine to be imposed on the convicts of the offence

“The Committee find that the maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh proposed to punish the offenders in the Bill is insignificant and may not act as a deterrent for the pirators, particularly when they make huge sum money out of this,” it underlined.

The panel noted that the Indian film industry loses $2.8 billion of its annual revenue due to piracy as per the FICCI-EY report in 2018 on India’s Media and Entertainment sector.

“It a matter of great concern,” the panel stated.

It suggested the I&B Ministry to consider enhancing the maximum limit for fine in the proposed legislation "suitably, such as a range of 5 to 10 % of the audited gross production costs.”

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