Earlier in October 2020, the Copyright Office (DPIIT, MoC) sought inputs on potential amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957 (Copyright Act), in view of increased digitization of content, and the use of internet and new technologies to disseminate works where copyright subsist.
Consequently, NASSCOM reached out to the industry seeking comments on potential amendments to the Copyright Act. Based on the feedback received from the industry, NASSCOM submitted its inputs to the Copyright Office on 31 December 2020. NASSCOM’s recommendations focus largely around emergent issues relating to the online dissemination of content, and issues relating to the statutory procedures for obtaining licenses and payment and apportionment of royalties.
In particular, NASSCOM made the following recommendations:
- Section 18 of the Copyright Act should be revisited to clarify the interpretation of the term “equal basis” in the context of apportionment of royalties between the author and assignee of a work, and enabling third party users to pay the full amount to either of the assignee or author, with the apportionment being settled at a subsequent stage as per contractual terms between the author and assignee.
- Provisions relating to Statutory Licensing (Section 31C and 31D) be revisited. In particular, restrictions on obtaining statutory license for cover versions of music recordings (under Section 31C) should be eased, and electronic media such as online streaming should be included within the scope of statutory license for broadcasting (under Section 31D)
- The requirements for registering as a Copyright Society (under Section 33) should be extended to any entity (including licensees of the work and collection societies) that is engaged in the business of issuing or granting licenses in respect of copyrighted works. Moreover, the issue of multiplicity of Copyright Societies, and the resultant uncertainty in identification of appropriate Copyright Societies at the time of seeking licenses should be addressed through appropriate technological solutions.
- There is a need to harmonise the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Copyright Act, vis-à-vis safe-harbours available to online content sharing platforms – particularly with regard to liability arising from infringing content hosted at the direction of end-users. While no unanimous or uniform approach exists across jurisdictions, the Government should consult the industry and other relevant stakeholders to clarify the limits and scope of the safe-harbour available to intermediaries in such cases.
- There might be some merit in revisiting Section 52 of the Copyright Act, to transition from a granular and exclusive list of fair dealing exceptions, to a principle based and inclusive list –which enables further innovation and creativity. The Government should consult the industry and other stakeholders towards revising the “fair dealing” standards under law. Additionally, the Government should consider incorporating data and text-mining related exemptions under Section 52, in line with similar exemptions adopted in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Japan.