Centre cracks down on pirated content on Internet

The film industry is facing losses of up to Rs 20,000 crore every year due to piracy

Team Parvasi – Inside

Centre cracks down on pirated content on Internet
New DelhiIn a major action to curb film piracy, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on Friday authorised select nodal officers to block any website, app or link carrying pirated film content.

The I&B ministry has empowered its officers and also officers of the Central Board of Film Certification not just to block the link, they can even order taking down the offending website, app or link. A list of 12 nodal officers has been put out.

I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra said the new rule meant that the copyright owner need not go to court but could approach the nodal officers to stop the broadcast of the pirated content.

The film industry is facing losses of up to Rs 20,000 crore every year due to piracy.

This is the first direct action against piracy under the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 1952.

During this year’s Monsoon Session of Parliament, the I&B ministry had established an institutional mechanism of nodal officers to receive complaints against piracy and direct the intermediaries to take down pirated content on digital platforms.

As of now, there is no institutional mechanism to directly take action on pirated filmic content except legal action under the Copyright Act and Indian Penal Code. With the proliferation of internet, there has seen a boom in piracy.

This would allow instant action by the I&B ministry in case of piracy and would provide relief to the industry, Chandra said.

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The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023, passed by Parliament in the Monsoon Session addressed the issue relating to film certification, including the issue of unauthorised recording and exhibition of films and film piracy by transmission of unauthorised copies on the internet and imposed strict penalties for piracy.

The newly inserted Section 7 (1B) (ii) in the Cinematograph Act provides that the government may take suitable action for removing or disabling access to such an infringing copy exhibited or hosted on an intermediary platform in a manner in contravention to the Section 6AB referred above.

The newly inserted Section 6AB provides that no person shall use or abet the use of copy of any film in a manner that amounts to the infringement of copyright under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957, or any other law in force for the time being.

Speaking about the Bill in Parliament, Union Minister for I&B Anurag Thakur had said that the Act aimed to curb film piracy, a measure which had been a long-standing demand of the film industry.

The Act was amended after 40 years to incorporate provisions against film piracy, including digital piracy, after the last significant amendments were made in 1984. The amendment includes a minimum of three months’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 3 lakh which can be extended up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost.

An original copyright holder or any person authorised by him for the purpose can apply to the nodal officer to take down pirated content.

After receiving directions from the nodal officer under the law, the digital platform would be obliged to remove such internet links hosting pirated content within 48 hours.

The government said these amendments are in harmony with the existing laws that addressed the issue of film piracy in the Copyright Act,1957, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

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