Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has criticised HRD ministry’s proposed amendments to the Copyright Act and said it was disappointed to note that the ministry has not done any consultations with broadcasters on proposed changes like amendments in ‘Fair Use’ provisions.

It added that no consultation paper with the stakeholders was floated prior to drafting the amendment bill which is expected to be soon introduced in the Parliament. “It may be pointed out that news channels which enjoy constitutional protection in respect of free speech and expression are likely to be severely hurt by any tinkering with the “Fair Use” provisions of the existing Section 52 of the Copyright Act,” said IBF in a statement.

Fair Use allows news channels to be able to telecast clips of sports events and use version recordings (where original soundtrack is not used) of songs and music without paying any royalty or nominal royalty to the rights holders. The association also said there is a lack of single window regulator in the music sector and there is a need to set up a Copyright Board.

In addition, there is a need of statutory licensing provisions in order to ensure that broadcasters are not left to the whims and fancies of copyright owners and societies. Also the introduction of new provision Section 33A should be avoided as it will “vest draconian powers with the Copyright Societies,” IBF pointed out in a statement. IBF members have urged the Ministry of HRD and ministry of Information & Broadcasting to undertake a wider consultation with the concerned stakeholders before going ahead with the proposed Bill.

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September 2021