New Delhi: Parliament today passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 which aims to comprehensively curb the menace of ‘piracy’ causing estimated losses of Rs 20,000 crores to the film industry, after getting the nod from the Lok Sabha.
The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on July 20, 2023, and passed after discussion on July 27, 2023. It provides for strict punishment of a minimum of 3 months imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 3 lakhs which can be extended up to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 5% of the audited gross production cost of the film.
The bill has been passed by the Parliament amending the Cinematograph Act after 40 years as the last significant amendments in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 were made in the year 1984.
The amended Bill attempts to address the issue of unauthorised recording and exhibition of films and curb the menace of film piracy by the transmission of unauthorized copies on the internet. It further attempts to improve the procedure for certification of films for public exhibition by the Central Board of Film Certification, as well as improve categorisations of the certifications of the films. It also attempts to harmonise the law with extant executive orders, Supreme Court judgements, and other relevant legislations.
The following are the provisions in the amended Act:
a) Provisions to Check Unauthorised Recording and Exhibition of Films Amounting to Piracy: To check film piracy by way of cam-cording in the theatres; and most importantly also prohibit any unauthorized copying and online transmission & exhibition of a pirated copy of any film, strict penal provisions have been incorporated.
b) Age-Based Certification: Introduction of age-based categories of certification by further sub-dividing the existing UA category into three age-based categories, viz. seven years (UA 7+), thirteen years (UA 13+), and sixteen years (UA 16+), instead of twelve years. These age-based markers would be only recommendatory, meant for the parents or guardians to consider whether their children should view such a film.
c) Aligning with the Supreme Court Judgements: Omission of Revisional Powers of Central Government as per judgment of Supreme Court in the case of K.M. Shankarappa vs Union of India (2000).
d) Perpetual Validity of Certificates: Removal of the restriction in the Act on the validity of certificates for only 10 years for perpetual validity of certificates of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Singh Thakur said, “The government has done away with the requirement to renew a film’s license every 10 years and has made it valid for a lifetime. Now, there is no need to run around the government offices seeking renewal. Keeping up with the judgement of K.M Shankarappa Vs Union of India case judgement, the government has kept it away from the revision power and now the autonomous body of CBFC will have the full authority to look after it”.
e) Change of Category of Film for Television: Recertification of the edited film for Television broadcast, as only Unrestricted Public Exhibition category films can be shown on television.
f) Reference to Jammu and Kashmir: Omission of references to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in line with the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
The Indian film industry is one of the biggest and most globalised industries in the world producing more than 3,000 films annually in more than 40 languages. The medium of cinema, the tools and the technology associated with it have undergone vital changes over this period of time. The menace of piracy has also grown manifold, with the advent of the internet and social media. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated that the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 passed by the Parliament today, will go a long way in curbing the menace of piracy and also empowerment of the Indian Film Industry with ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
– global bihari bureau