With the Union Cabinet giving its approval to the Bill on Wednesday, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry is set to bring a fresh legislation with stringent provisions to tackle the menace of piracy in films, which leads to losses worth thousands of crores to the movie industry annually.
The Bill will also introduce detailed classification of film content based on age groups, considering the growing content on OTT platforms curated by an expanding industry.
I&B Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday said the Centre will introduce the Cinematograph Bill, 2023 in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Thakur said extensive consultation was held with international filmmakers and the Indian film industry before the Bill was drafted. He said best international practices have been included in the Bill, which has undergone public and inter-ministerial consultations, and that further details will be revealed during the Monsoon Session.
The fresh Bill seeks to replace the 71-year-old Cinematograph Act of 1952, which is the only legislation that guides certification of films for public exhibition. The provisions of the legislation are applicable to films released in Indian theatres, which are regulated by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
There has been a major jump worldwide in consumption of pirated content over the last few years. A joint report published by Akamai and MUSO in February last year showed that global demand for pirated content jumped between January and September 2021 and India ranked third globally for consuming pirated content in 2021.
Last week, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra had said that the new Bill is in the works and that action will be taken against rogue websites that record content illegally or transmit them online.Advertisement
The current Cinematograph Act of 1952 does not have provisions to check video piracy and has limited age-based categories for certification of films. It had been largely rendered redundant with the growth of the OTT industry and the content produced by the platforms every year.
OTT content is governed by the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, which were released in 2021.
Over the last few years, the government made multiple attempts to amend the existing Cinematograph Act.Advertisement
An expert committee under Justice Mukul Mudgal was set up in 2013 to examine the law. A second panel was subsequently constituted under filmmaker Shyam Benegal in 2016 to devise guidelines for certification under the Act.
In 2019, an earlier draft of an amended Cinematograph Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha with new provisions for tackling piracy of film content. A report on it was then presented by the Standing Committee on Information Technology in Lok Sabha, following which the ministry came with a draft Bill in 2021.
This draft of the Bill had introduced new provisions for certification of films under UA category by dividing it into age-based categories such as U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+.
It had separate provisions stating that no person would be permitted to use any audio-visual recording device in a place to knowingly make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or its part without the written authorisation of the author. It also had provisions to penalise those involved in piracy, including imprisonment and a fine.
The new Bill is likely to keep several stringent provisions against those involved in film piracy.Most Read 1 Gadar 2 box office collection day 4: Sunny Deol film records biggest Monday collections of all time, nets a total of Rs 173 cr 2 Bigg Boss OTT 2 Finale Live Updates: Elvish Yadav wins Salman Khan’s show, Abhishek Malhan shares message from hospital 3 Happy Independence Day 2023: Wishes Images, Whatsapp Messages, Status, Quotes, and Photos 4 OMG 2 box office collection day 4: Pankaj Tripathi-Akshay Kumar film delivers better Monday than opening Friday, earns Rs 55.1 cr 5 Jailer box office collection Day 5: Rajinikanth film set to cross Rs 350-crore mark worldwide on Independence Day Advertisement
However, what had gathered maximum attention was a controversial clause in this draft of the Bill was the one empowering the government to order “re-examination” of a certified film on complaints over violations of Section 5B(1) of Cinematograph Act.
Section 5B(1), derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution, imposes reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement of any offence.Also ReadNarendra Modi Independence Day Speech Live Updates: India now identified ...Govt SOP for Judges: Do not name officials for court panelsShivaji statue vandalised in Goa, police initiate inquiry‘Will return to Red Fort next year’: In Independence Day speech, PM Modi ...Advertisement
It is not known whether the Cinematograph Bill, 2023 will retain this clause.© The Indian Express (P) Ltd