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11 Jun 2019

Overview on the draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2019

By: Harish N
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The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade vide their press statement dated 30th May 2019 has proposed to introduce the Copyright Amendment Rules, 2019[1] (hereinafter “Rules”) primarily to address and adapt to ongoing technological advancements in the digital era and to bring them in parity with other relevant legislations. The draft rules are open until 29th June 2019 for objections and suggestions by all persons likely to be affected by it. The Copyright Rules, 2013 were last amended in 2016.

Some of the salient features of the draft Rules are as follows:

  • Copyright Board substituted with Appellate Board

The Rules propose to replace ‘Copyright Board’ with the ‘Appellate Board’ wherein the chairman and other members of the Board would be appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The substitution brings the rules in consonance with the merger of Copyright Board with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board by the Finance Act, 2017.

  • ‘Radio and Television Broadcast’ replaced with ‘Each Mode of Broadcast’

With the proposed amendment of replacing the words ‘radio and television broadcast’ to ‘each mode of broadcast’ in Rules 29, 30 and 31 pertaining to the issuance of statutory licences for broadcasting literary and musical works and sound recording, the amendment may have opened up opportunities for internet broadcasters (particularly for on-demand streaming service providers) to claim benefit under Section 31-D of the Copyright Act, 1957 (“Act”).

  • Copyright Society

With the objective of bringing more accountability and transparency in the working of copyright societies, the Rules have proposed a new set of compliances for the copyright societies. Among them, the major ones include:

  • Timeline for Registration

The earlier timeline of sixty days for consideration of applications for registration of copyright societies has been done away with.

  • Tariff Scheme

The Rules propose additional guidelines that the copyright societies may consider while fixing the tariff that they intend to collect in respect of the rights of works administered by them. Moreover, additional guidance is also provided for the Board while determining the ‘tariff scheme’. Further, it is proposed to remove the requirement for determination and payment of interim tariff pending disposal of an appeal on tariff scheme.

  • Management of Copyright Societies

The Rules propose to remove the bar on the re-election of the Chairman and other members of the Governing Council of a copyright society. Further, criteria for participation and exercise of voting rights at the General Body Meeting are proposed to be added.

  • Distribution Scheme

The Rules mandate that if a copyright society fails to distribute royalties to authors or owners of the work, due to non-availability of the identities of such authors and owners, then such royalties are to be kept in a separate account of the copyright societies.  Copyright societies should take necessary measures in identifying the authors and owners and must publish relevant information and details of the same on their website at the end of every quarter. Further, the Rules mandate that should the royalties remain undistributed by the end of three years then the copyright society has to refund such amounts within three months from the end of such financial year to the licensee.

  • Annual Transparency Report

Another key addition to the Rules is the requirement of a copyright society to submit a transparency report for every financial year within the next six months. The report must be available on the society’s website for at least three years. The report needs to largely capture the following information:

  • activities carried out in that financial year;
  • information of licence refusals;
  • governance structure of copyright society;
  • details and use of amounts deducted for Welfare Scheme activities;
  • financial information on rights revenue for each type of right administered and for each type of use;
  • financial information on royalties due to the authors and owners; and
  • information on relationship with foreign societies or organizations.

The above compliance requirements, if implemented strictly, should bring an end to the never-ending controversies surrounding the copyright society’s non-transparent royalty collection modalities involving the basis for royalty rates, their quantum, distribution etc.

  • Importation of Infringing Copies

The Rules propose to modify the procedure to be followed in case of importation of infringing copies in accordance with the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, prescribed under the Customs Act,1962 (52 of 1962). Further, the fee required for an application for the prevention of importation of infringing copies has been removed.

  • Source and Object Code Submission

The Rules have relaxed the requirement of submitting the complete source code and object code and instead the Applicant can now submit “at least first 10 and last 10 pages of source code, or the entire source code if less than 20 pages, with no blocked out or redacted portions”, in line with the practice followed in many other countries.

  • Notice Through Electronic Means

Apart from the above, the proposed rules seek to amend the procedure for serving notices to include electronic means in addition to the present practice of notifying through registered post.

The proposed Rules signify positive changes by shedding more light on the activities of copyright societies and ensuring accountability by placing additional reporting and fund management obligations which would be beneficial to the authors/owners.

[1] http://copyright.gov.in/Documents/pdfgazette.pdf

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