The Indian government has proposed amendments in the Cinematograph Act to keep pace with the changing times and technology, which would also help in curbing online piracy and bring about uniformity in product classification for viewing by consumers as was recently done for streaming content.
“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposes to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which will make the process of sanctioning of films for exhibition more effective, in tune with the changed times and curb the menace of piracy,” a government statement said while inviting comments from the stakeholders on the proposed changes.
One of the important changes proposed relates to film certification under categories similar to content classification under new digital regulations for streamers.
The section under ‘unrestricted public exhibition’ is being proposed to be sub-divided according to age-based categories like U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+, apart from A certificate for adult viewing.
Another amendment relates to ‘validity of certificate’. As per present provision, the certificate issued by the film certification board is valid for 10 years. Although this restriction on validity of certificates for 10 years has been removed through executive orders, the existing provision in the Act requires it to be amended to remove the stipulation in a way to signify that the certificate is valid in perpetuity.
Acknowledging the fact that online piracy, especially of newly released films, causes huge financial loss to the film industry and the government, MIB proposes to have enabling provisions in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 to check film piracy.
Insertion of a new sub-section on penalties for piracy is being proposed, including imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than three months but may extend to three years and imposing a fine that shall not be less than Rs. 300,000, but may extend to 5 percent of the audited gross production cost or both.
The details of the consultation paper can be accessed at: https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/Public%20comments%20sought%20on%20Cinematograph%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%202021.pdf.