On 30 May 2019, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Ministry) has issued a notification containing draft amendments (Draft Amendments) to the Copyright Rules, 2013 (Rules). The Ministry has sought comments on the Draft Amendments, which may be submitted till 29 June 2019. The thrust of the Draft Amendments seems to address issues around statutory licenses and introduce transparency in the functioning of copyright societies. Highlights of the Draft Amendments are as follows:
- The first major change proposed in the Draft Amendment is in relation to the rules for statutory licence for broadcasting of literary and musical works and sound recordings. The Draft Amendment seeks to replace the words "by way of radio broadcast or television broadcast" by the words "for each mode of broadcast" in rules 29, 30 and 31, which deal with the statutory license for broadcasting of literary and musical works and sound recordings. The usage of the words "by way of radio broadcast or television broadcast" in the above Rules have been relied upon recently by the Bombay High Court to limit the applicability of Section 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957 in respect of statutory licenses to only radio and television broadcasting while excluding internet broadcasting out of the ambit. Interestingly, the Draft Amendment do not propose to remove the reference to radio and television broadcast from Section 31D, which forms the basis of statutory licenses; and
- The second aspect of the Draft Amendments is the inclusion of new provisions for increasing transparency and functioning of the copyright societies in India.
- In Rule 57 which relates to framing of tariff schemes by copyright societies, additional criteria such as cross-sectional tariff comparisons, economic research, nature and scope of the use of the work, commercial value of rights in use and benefits to licensees have also been now listed as considerations for fixing the tariff scheme.
- In Rule 58, a sub-rule is sought to be inserted to keep separate accounts for royalties where it cannot be distributed within the specified time if the relevant author or the owner cannot be located or identified. Similarly, it has been proposed that the copyright society must take all necessary measures to identify and locate authors and owners and must publish on its website, at the end of every quarter, titles of works, names of authors and owners and all other information which will help identify authors and / or owners.
- A new Rule 65A has been proposed which calls for the copyright societies to publish an "Annual Transparency Report" within six months of the end of each financial year. Such report has to inter alia include a report on the activities in the financial year, information on refusals to grant a licence, a description of the legal and governance structure of the copyright society, financial information on the rights revenue for each category of rights administered and for each type of use, financial information on royalties due to authors and other owners, information on relationships with foreign societies or organisations, etc.
- With respect to Rule 66 which specifies the code of conduct for copyright societies, a new sub-rule has been proposed that requires the website of the copyright societies to make available: a feature enabling the users to search their database of works ;the "Annual Transparency Report"; and details of undistributed royalties on account of work belonging to authors and other owners who could not be identified or located.
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