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Strong regulatory ecosystem vital for safeguarding IPR if M and E industry has to grow in the international market

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MUMBAI: The subject of intellectual property rights and piracy keep coming up at the FICCI FRAMES year after year and appeals are made by creative artistes for stringent measures to check this.

With digitization and if India is to become a media and entertainment hub, this gains urgency and is even more imperative that steps are taken for a strong legal and regulatory ecosystem safeguarding intellectual properties.

Saving intellectual Property in a world without boundaries saw panelists and legal experts referring to global practices and emphasizing on the importance of IPR for the growth of the Indian media and entertainment sector.

In fact, World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry stressed the need for stringent laws in an upcoming market like India where creativity was growing at such a speed. He also referred to how WIPO was helping member countries to deal with these problems.

The session was moderated by Saikrishna & Associates partner Ameet Dutta. The panelists were Motion Picture Association of America Asia Pacific VP regional legal counsel Michael Schlesinger, Star India senior VP legal and regulatory Pulak Bagchi and Zee Network president legal and regulatory affairs Avnindra Mohan.

Dutta said the focus of the context in digital India has shifted from copyrights to user rights. This underlines the challenges that intellectual property faces. The question that he posed before the panelists was where India stood on the world map in terms of economics.

Schlesinger said: “India is a mine of creativity. This is evident with the number of features films, television channels or other platforms available in India. Our existence will depend on a surge of creativity and invention. India is maximizing its potential but has to find a place on the global map. For example, India showed total box office collection of $2.5 million in 2015 while China had $6.5 million and US had $11.1 million. These figures clearly show that just making products or content in India will not help until India can acquire international content as well. India has to maximize a lot of things like job creations, movie screenings etc.”

Mohan shared the scenario about the regulatory environment in India. “For the broadcasting sector, there is no copyright at all since 2003. It is always user rights. In India, the content producers and broadcasters are same to the extent of 90 per cent unlike US. If a distributor comes to you, you have to provide content on non-discriminatory basis with equal prices irrespective of the size. This is the only sector where a broadcaster is asked to provide its content with prices frozen in 2003. I am forced to give my content to the distributors at a frozen price.”

Bagchi generally agreed with Mohan and said with the challenges faced by the entire sector, the impact of regulatory laws on channels and the challenges faced by broadcasters cannot be neglected. “Consumers are our kings. I agree with Mohan about the prices being frozen since 2003. Imagine what would happen if the Indian government asks Bill Gates to sell all the Microsoft versions and its tools today on the prices that were relevant in 2003,” said Bagchi. He stressed that this was one reason why international parties hesitate on investing in Indian IPs, and the archaic guidelines and regulations prevent the growth of intellectual property.

For a session that was aimed at how one can survive the digital divide, it ended with the panelists agreeing on the importance of having sectoral regulations in sync with the copyright laws. This will also retain the India IPR regime with the best practices in the field of intellectual property rights.

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