On Wednesday, the government will have to take stock of the consequences of the recent IP-related amendments to the Copyright Act.
The government’s proposal to introduce a three-pronged approach to the matter is to “increase the level of transparency” and “encourage a robust examination of intellectual property in the digital economy”, a spokesperson from the government’s Intellectual Property Department said in a statement.
The consultation on the new measures will take place from June 30 to July 7.
It is expected that the government would recommend that amendments be made to the Act to make it clearer that copyright protection is not a license for copying.
The proposal, though, will be heavily scrutinised by stakeholders and critics, who say the new proposals are a direct attack on the rights of digital artists, and are a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression.
“The Government is clearly trying to give the right of the creator of a work to the copyright holder,” said Amit Shukla, the founder of Acharya, a digital platform which helps the arts community in India.
Shukla has been vocal about the need to protect digital artists in India and in the world, including India, for years.
“The digital revolution is taking place in India in the sense that there is a huge demand for artists, the demand for the right for artistic expression,” he said.
India is home to more than 5.5 million digital artists.
The country also has one of the highest number of online communities in the country, with more than 15 million users on Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent survey.
In a 2015 survey by a digital platform, over half of Indians polled were either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the impact of digital copyright protection on their livelihoods.
“Digital copyright protection means that you cannot create your own works without the permission of a copyright holder, whether you own the rights or not,” Shuklas told the Times of Indian.
“It is an economic right.
It should be limited.”
Shakla is not alone in his concerns.
According to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center, one in four Indians believe that copyright infringement is the biggest problem facing their country, and the majority of Indian citizens think copyright infringement can be avoided by limiting the right holders to use digital works.
Digital artists have been increasingly affected by copyright-related changes in the past two decades, as the industry has grown more reliant on the digitisation of works and services, and as digital content has become more widely available.
Many artists and writers have been making a point to take up issues like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires all works published in India to be distributed digitally or “at least” through a digital repository.
A new set of amendments to India’s copyright law, which was passed on March 22, has been opposed by many digital rights activists and some rights groups.
The amendment will amend the Act so that copyright holders will be able to issue an authorisation, which would require them to seek the permission from a copyright owner to copy or make use of the work.
Under the new amendments, the authorisation will be issued after a three month waiting period and only after the copyright owner has paid a fee.
(Image source: Flickr user Lakshmanan S. Thampi)The authors argue that such a fee, which could be as low as Rs 5,000, is unreasonable and will result in the loss of valuable digital content.
As such, the amendments will likely be opposed by rights groups like Creative Commons India, which argues that it will create a chilling effect on digital creativity.
While the amendments to the Copyright Act have been criticized by digital rights organisations, they have been endorsed by the government, who is in favour of its passage. Read more The government’s draft amendments have been criticised by the National Commission for Copyright Information (NCCI), a body that is tasked with scrutinising the copyright law.
It was also criticised by a group of Indian artists, including Gopal Krishna Rao, who wrote a letter to the National Copyright Board (NCB) and the Central Copyright Board in January asking it to intervene and “examine the proposal with a view to making recommendations”.
“While we are against this amendment, we do not think it is the appropriate way to resolve this issue,” Rao wrote.
Rao said that he was worried that the changes would “encumber” digital creators.
He said that “no matter how the amendments are implemented, there will always be people who will take the copyright as a licence to use and to copy.
What is the purpose of such an instrument?”
The authors of the letter argued that the current copyright law “violates the right not to be deprived of the enjoyment of the content of a particular work or to the extent of its use or publication”.