Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Copyright Amendment Bill, 2012

The Copyright Amendment Bill, 2012 is successfully passed in the Parliament, is now waiting to be signed by the President. This bill marks a historic turning in the foster of Copyright laws in India. It introduces many pertinent changes in the Copyright laws. One of the characteristics of the Bill is that it has tried to make certain definitions. It defines commercial rental, Rights management information, visual recording.

Cinema is one of the craziest stuff that we, Indians have promoted and enjoyed a lot. Thus, the amendment with regard to the royalties payable to the music composers and lyricists is very much celebrated by the people. Right from the Oscar holder A.R.Rahman to the celebrities like Javed Akhtar & Shankar Mahadevan had struggled a lot to get this amendment pass in the Indian Legislature.  Under the former provision these music composers and lyricists didn’t have right to claim royalty equally. The problem was especially with regard to the cinematographic works or generally cinemas. The copyright for the movie either goes to its producer or its director. The lyricist and the music composers usually assign their copyright for their work to these people for the money considerations thus lacking right to claim any equal amount of royalty. Now the amended law has made eligible for the music composers and the lyricists to claim an equal share of royalties and consideration payable in case of utilization of their work.

Another interesting amendment is that to relinquish the copyright, the author may merely give a public notice. The Bill also amends that the photographs shall enjoy copyright protection as that of any artistic, literary, musical work (cheers to the photographers…). The Bill in addition enables the author to license any of his work by mere writing document not necessarily signed. Again the Bill proposes that the compulsory license shall be granted for any works rather than ‘ Indian works’ which is indeed a really good provision as it facilitates for more availability of works to the people. Another significant amendment is that it allows any person working for the benefit of persons with disability on a profit basis or for business, to apply to the Copyright Board for a compulsory license to publish any work in which copyright subsists, for the benefit of such persons. Moreover these applications need to be disposed off as soon as possible in a favorable manner. This Bill also makes a provision with regard to the cover version copies, which shall be made only after 5 years of making the original. It requires that the cover version be of same medium as the original. So if the original is on a cassette, the cover cannot be released on a CD. Also strict regulations are made like the cover version should claim it to be the cover version & not to be misleading, royalty to be paid in advance if 50, 000 copies are to be made, no alterations to be made except for the technical necessities.

This Amendment Act also inserts that every copyright society shall be registered for a period of five years and may be renewed from time to time before the end of every five years on a request in the prescribed form. This bill also elaborates more upon the performers rights like he/she can claim for royalty in case of making of the performances for commercial use; performer of a performance shall, independently of his right after assignment, either wholly or partially of his right, have the right to claim to be identified as the performer of his performance and  to restrain or claim damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation or other modification of his performance that would be prejudicial to his reputation.

Again the fair dealing provisions are now applicable to all the works and also says that the transient or incidental shortage of a work or performance purely in the technical processor electronic transmission or communication to the public or for the purpose of providing electronics links,access or integration, where such links, access or integration has not been expressly prohibited by the right holder will be an exception.This is available only till he/she who does such storage a complaint from the copyright holder alleging it to be infringement.In such a circumstance he/ she shall not use this works for a period of 21 days or till he/she gets a court order prohibiting them to continue.

Another vital provision is again to people with disabilities. The amendment act allows the use of any work or performance in any accessible format for the using it by the persons with disability on non - profit basis.Another remarkable amendment is the introduction of the provision which punishes any person who would puncture any technological measure taken to ensure the copyright for a period of 2 years.Also there has been a modification to the moral rights of the authors.Moral rights are the inherent right available exclusively to the author even after the assignment or the licensing or expiration of the copyright.The amendment has now allowed the legal representatives of the author to claim the right to claim authorship along with the other rights which was not allowed in the earlier act.

Biswajit Sarkar