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Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023

Context:

The Rajya Sabha passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023 that introduces stringent anti-piracy provisions, expanding the scope of the law from censorship to also cover copyright. 

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023
  2. Significance of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023
  3. Concerns Regarding the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023

The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023

Amendment Purpose and Authority:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act 1952, which gives the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) the authority to approve films for exhibition in cinemas and television, including requiring cuts if necessary, or rejecting the exhibition of a film.

Introduction of Additional Certificate Categories:

  • The Bill introduces new certificate categories based on age-appropriateness in line with the Shyam Benegal committee (2017) recommendations.
  • Under the Act, film may be certified for exhibition:
    • without restriction (‘U’),
    • without restriction, but subject to guidance of parents or guardians for children below 12 years of age (‘UA’),
    • only to adults (‘A’), or
    • only to members of any profession or class of persons (‘S’).
  • The UA (Unrestricted Public Exhibition-Adult Guidance) category is replaced with three age-specific categories: UA 7+, UA 13+, and UA 16+.

Separate Certificates for Television and Media Exhibition:

  • Films with ‘A’ or ‘S’ certificates (restricted to specific professions/classes) will require a separate certificate for exhibition on television or any other media as prescribed by the central government.
  • The Board may instruct applicants to make necessary changes for the separate certificate.

Combatting Film Piracy:

  • The Bill prohibits unauthorized recording and exhibition of films to address film piracy.
  • Offences related to piracy will be punishable with imprisonment between 3 months and 3 years, along with a fine ranging from 3 lakh rupees to 5% of the audited gross production cost.
  • Certain exemptions under the Copyright Act 1957 will apply to these piracy offences.

Perpetual Validity of Certificates:

  • While current certificates are valid for 10 years, the Bill proposes perpetual validity for film certificates.
  • Removal of Central Government’s Revisional Powers:
  • The central government’s power to examine and make orders regarding certified films or those pending certification is removed.
  • The Board will be solely responsible for disposing of matters based on its certification decisions.

Significance of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023:

  • Modernization of Certification Process: The proposed amendments will update and streamline the film certification process, making it more effective and relevant to current times.
  • Combatting Film Piracy: By addressing film piracy through strict penalties and provisions, the bill aims to significantly reduce the illegal distribution of films. This will contribute to the growth of the film industry and create more job opportunities within the sector.

Concerns Regarding the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023:

  • Exclusion of OTT Platform Content: The bill does not explicitly cover content on Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, leaving a potential gap in regulating films and shows available on digital streaming services. There might be concerns regarding the release of uncensored films on OTT platforms.
  • Age-Based Categories Reliance on Self-Regulation: The introduction of age-based categories places the responsibility on society, particularly parents and guardians, to determine whether the content is suitable for specific age groups. Critics might question the effectiveness of self-regulation in protecting young audiences from inappropriate content.

-Source: The Hindu


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