[A2k] Copyright Amendment Bill in Parliament by Nirmita Narasimhan

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Tue Aug 30 11:18:19 PDT 2011

Copyright Amendment Bill in Parliament
Posted by Nirmita Narasimhan at Aug 30, 2011 02:56 PM


The Copyright Amendment Bill is expected to be presented in the Rajya
Sabha by the Minister for Human Resource and Development, Kapil Sibal
today afternoon. The much awaited Bill (since it has been in the
offing since 2006) has undergone significant changes since its initial

Given below is a very quick first cut highlight of the Bill from a
public interest perspective. A more detailed analysis will follow
after the session discussions.

    * Parallel imports: The parallel imports clause which had been put
in as sec 2(m) has now been dropped from the present draft. This is a
big setback because educational institutions, libraries and archives,
second hand book, etc., were looking to this provision to bring down
the prices and hasten the availability of books. This also affects
persons with disabilities since they will be unable to import books in
accessible formats.

    * Persons with disabilities: There are two provisions relating to
persons with disabilities which have been introduced. Section 52 (1)
(zb) relates to the conversion, reproduction, issues of copies or
communication to the public of any work in any accessible format,
provided that these activities are meant to enable access to persons
with disabilities and sufficient safeguards are taken to ensure that
these materials do not enter the mainstream market. This section in a
sense is broader and more encompassing than some provisions found in
other countries, which relate exclusively to the blind or visually
impaired. This section would adequately cover persons with other
disabilities who cannot read print. A new section 31B also provides
for compulsory licensing for profit entities wishing to convert and
distribute works in accessible formats, provided that they are
primarily working for persons with disabilities and are registered
under sec 12A of the Income Tax Act or under chapter X of the Persons
with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full
Participation) Act, 1995.

    * Many exceptions under 52 (1) (i) relating to fair dealing have
been extended to all works except computer programmes. New sections 52
(1) (b) and (c) protect transient and incidental storage from being
classified as infringing copies, which offers protection to entities
such as online intermediaries.

    * The scope of compulsory licensing under sec 31 has been expanded
from ‘any Indian work’ to ‘any work’. Three new sections 31 B, 31C and
31 D have been introduced. Section 31 B has already been described in
the paragraph on persons with disabilities. Section 31 C lays down
strict measures relating to statutory licensing in case of cover
version, being a sound recording of a literary, dramatic or musical
work. Section 31 D relates to statutory licenses for broadcasting
organizations wishing to broadcast a literary or musical work or sound

    * Non commercial public libraries can now store electronic copies
of any non digital works they own (52(n)).

    * The new Bill introduces Technological protection measures (65A
and 65B) and makes circumvention and distribution of works in which
rights managements systems have been removed an offence which is
punishable with imprisonment upto two years as well as fine. In
addition the copyright owner can also avail of civil remedies. As such
India is not really required to have these provisions in the copyright
legislation since we are not yet a signatory to the WCT or the WPPT
and such provisions will hamper consumer interests.

    * Terms of copyright have been increased significantly without
reason, thus preventing works from falling into the public domain. For
instance, the term of photographs has been increased from 60 years to
life of the photographer plus 60 years. This is far in excess of the
minimum term stipulated by international treaties.

Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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