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Should creative content be barred from widespread dissemination?

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MUMBAI: Companies and people logger heading over Intellectual Property (IP) is nothing new in India. Over decade, we have seen people taking each other to court for “stealing” their ideas and this has raise the question: should the intellectual property or creative content be barred from widespread dissemination to protect the hard work of producers, or should it be freely spread around the world in a global economic era that often doesn't have boundaries?

To find a solution to these and similar questions, a panel anchored by NDTV editor and senior anchor Vishnu Som highlighted issues around intellectual property and the dynamics of its ownership in an industry that is rapidly becoming characterised by multiple content distributors over multiple delivery platforms discussion on "Intellectual Property, Piracy and the Creative Industries" on the third and final day of the FICCI FRAMES convention being held in Mumbai.

Present on the panel was Government of India registrar of copyrights Dr G Raghavender. He spoke about the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012. The amendments were designed to extend copyright protection to the digital environment in harmony with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Phonograms Treaty, 1996. The bill introduced exclusive economic rights for performance, and, for the first time, moral rights for performers.

But Star India president and general counsel Deepak Jacob differed in his view about the bill. He said that it had a fundamental problem: Of the five key stakeholders that come under copyright, viz. the print , film, television, radio and animation and gaming sectors, not a single one was consulted when these amendments were proposed. They were proposed at the behest of certain vested interests, primarily authors of literary and musical works, and certain performers. The amendments have actually created an impasse in the film and television industry, where authors have become trade unions holding film and television producers and content creators to ransom by demanding exorbitant royalties.

Saikrishna & Associates partner Ameet Datta, felt that the statutory requirement that when government evolves policy, it will focus on multiple stakeholders, is a positive development. Yet, there was bound to be friction between the expanding numbers of stakeholders and levels of dissemination; he suggested that involuntary licensing could provide industry with seamless access to works.  He also flagged up the issue about the biggest brands being advertised on pirate websites.

"The dumber you act, the less responsibility you will have," is what the law is suggesting, said Copyright Integrity International Nandan Kamath. The laws need to take responsibility for content on networks. He felt that the issue of digital piracy is not just legal but has ripple effects into the monetisation of content. Piracy itself is not well defined, and has lots of grey areas.

World Economic Forum Entertainment and Information Industries media director Annie Luo, discussed about her work on intellectual property in the digital context, that identified cultural differences as an element affecting how people related to the digital media.

FIAPF director general Beniot Ginisty felt that it was important for producers to enjoy full contractual freedom to produce films and robust operate in a high risk financial environment.

Questions from the audience revolved around who in a team would be the "owner" of a script, how young people could be educated about piracy, and when permissions were needed to use content.

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