On July 27, 2023, the Rajya Sabha took a significant step in the battle against film piracy and introduced reforms in movie certification with the passage of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023. The amended bill aims to curb the unauthorised recording and exhibition of films, which have been causing substantial losses to the film industry.Rajya Sabha passes Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, targeting film piracy and certification reforms
One of the key provisions of the bill is the crackdown on film piracy. Those involved in making pirated copies of movies could now face severe penalties, including a three-year jail term and a fine of up to 5% of the movie's production cost. This stern measure is expected to serve as a deterrent against the illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content.
The bill also brings notable changes in how movies are certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). It introduces three certifications under the 'UA' category: UA 7+, UA 13+, and UA 16+. This means that movies with such certifications can be viewed by children below the given age limits with parental guidance, offering a more nuanced approach to content regulation.
Moreover, the CBFC has been empowered to issue separate certificates for a film's exhibition on television or other media platforms. This provision aims to streamline the process of licensing films for public exhibition while ensuring that content is appropriately classified based on the platform of distribution.
The amendment to the Cinematograph Act, of 1952 was necessitated by the need to align the law with various executive orders, Supreme Court judgments, and other legislations. It also addresses the film industry's long-standing demand to tackle piracy effectively and protect their creative works from unauthorised exploitation.
The journey of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill started with the introduction of the 2019 version, which primarily focused on film piracy issues. After recommendations from the Standing Committee on Information Technology, the revised Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced, seeking public feedback. In 2022, consultations with industry stakeholders were conducted to refine the bill further, leading to the formulation of the 2023 version.
An interesting aspect of the 2023 Bill is the omission of the special reference to Jammu & Kashmir in the Act. With the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, of 2019, all special provisions in central laws related to the erstwhile state have become redundant.
The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, of 1995 stipulates that only UA-category films can be shown on TV. The new Bill allows for a change of category of a film from A (adult) or S (specialised groups) to UA, after making suitable alterations. The certificate issued by the CBFC will now be valid perpetually. Recording or helping a person record any film that is being exhibited at a cinema theatre using audio-visual devices has been prohibited under the Bill.
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