Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 passed in Rajya Sabha: What new provisions say on piracy

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 passed in Rajya Sabha: What new provisions say on piracy

Context- Rajya Sabha on Thursday (July 27) passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which cracks down on film piracy along with changing how movies are certified by the censor board.

(Credits- Fulmino Fan)

The Bill lays down a three-year jail term and a fine of up to 5% of a movie’s production cost for those making its pirated copies. It introduces three certifications under the ‘UA’ category, UA 7+, UA 13+ and UA 16+, which means that children younger than the given age limits can access such movies with parental guidance.

The background

  • According to officials, the Cinematograph Act, 1952 needed to be amended due to several reasons — to harmonise the law with various executive orders, Supreme Court judgements, and other legislations; to improve the procedure for licensing films for public exhibition by the CBFC; and to expand the scope of categorisations for certification.
  • Lastly and importantly, there was a huge demand from the film industry to address the issue of unauthorised recording and exhibition of films and curb the menace of piracy, which is causing them huge losses.

The two versions

  • The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Raiva Sabha on February 12, 2019, proposing changes related only to film piracy. This Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology, which presented its report in March 2020.
  • The recommendations by the panel included age-based categories of certification and the removal of redundant provisions. So, the revised Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was released on June 18, 2021, seeking public comments.
  • In 2022, consultations with industry stakeholders were held, based on which the Ministry introduced the 2023 Bill.

Showing films on TV

  • As the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 stipulates that only UA category films can be shown on TV, the Bill allows for a change of category of a film from A (adult) or S (specialised groups) to UA, after making suitable alterations.
  • While the earlier Act provided that the certificate issued by the CBFC is valid for 10 years, it would now be valid perpetually.
  • The new Bill clarifies that the Centre will not have any revisional powers over CBFC certificates.

On piracy

  • Recording or helping a person record any film that is being exhibited at a cinema theatre using audio-visual devices has been prohibited under the Bill. “The film industry is facing a loss of Rs 20,000 crore annually because of piracy,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said in the Rajya Sabha.
  • While inserting new clauses for piracy, the Bill aims to harmonise the Cinematograph Act with the existing laws that tangentially address piracy — the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Information Technology Act (IT) 2000, officials said.

Conclusion- Bill empowers the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to give separate certificates for a film’s exhibition on television or other media. The bill may help in copyright protections thereby providing an impetus to creativity and innovation going forward.

Syllabus- GS-2; Legislature

Source- Indian Express