In response to the film industry's annual losses of up to Rs. 20,000 crore due to piracy, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has taken proactive measures to check piracy by establishing an institutional mechanism of Nodal Officers.
These Nodal Officers are responsible for receiving complaints related to piracy and directing intermediaries to remove pirated content from digital platforms, as per the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act 1952 passed in Parliament during this year's Monsoon Session.
Until now, there has been no direct institutional mechanism for taking action against pirated film content, except through legal measures under the Copyright Act and IPC.
With the widespread availability of the internet and the high demand for free access to film content, piracy has proliferated. The new mechanism will enable the MIB to take immediate action in cases of piracy, providing much-needed relief to the industry.
It's worth noting that the Act has been amended after 40 years to address film piracy, including digital piracy, as the last significant amendments were made in 1984.
The amendments introduce stringent penalties, including a minimum 3-month imprisonment and fines of Rs 3 lakh, which can be extended up to three years of imprisonment and fines of up to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost.
The original copyright holder or an authorised representative can apply to the Nodal Officer to request the removal of pirated content. If a complaint is made by an individual who does not hold the copyright or is not authorized by the copyright holder, the Nodal Officer can conduct hearings on a case-by-case basis to determine the authenticity of the complaint before issuing directives.
Upon receiving directives from the Nodal Officer, digital platforms are obligated to remove internet links hosting pirated content within 48 hours.
The newly inserted section 6AB of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 prohibits the use or abetting the use of infringing copies of films for profit at unlicensed exhibition venues or in a manner that infringes on copyright.
Additionally, the newly inserted section 7(1B)(ii) in the Cinematograph Act empowers the Government to take appropriate action to remove/disable access to infringing copies exhibited/hosted on intermediary platforms in contravention of section 6AB.
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