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A new modification of the rules on copyright has been in preparation since 2019. The Ministry of Industry and Internal Trade had proposed the rules with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of procedural law. The last amendment took place in 2016, when “services” were brought under copyright law. However, as technology evolves at an exponential rate, a new amendment to ensure that copyright law is in tandem with changing trends was long overdue. In this article, the author analyzes changes to copyright rules and attempts to identify concerns that still require attention, perhaps through an amendment to copyright law.
Significant changes in a move towards digitalization
The new rules aim to go digital as they bring new procedural requirements that promote digital processing of publication and payment procedures. Publication of copyright no longer needs to be done in the Official Gazette, but the rules state that a copyright journal should be kept for publication of copyright. Additionally, like the Trademark Register available online, the Copyright Journal can be found on the Copyright website.
Some provisions have been added to improve the processing of royalty payments by the copyright society. Electronic payment mechanisms, which are supposed to be created, should also be able to track when payments were made. In cases where the authors or owners cannot be identified, these royalties must be filed separately by the copyright society. If such royalties have not been paid to authors due to a lack of identification for 3 years from the day they were acquired, the amount must be used for the welfare of the copyright society. ‘author. In addition, to increase accountability, the corporate company will now need to maintain annual transparency reports under Rule 65A that would report on activities undertaken by the company such as license denial, assessed royalties, collected, distributed, etc.
An amendment has been made to Rule 70, which relieves copyright holders of computer programs, as the previous requirement to submit all source code has now been relaxed. These copyright owners must now submit only the first 10 pages and last 10 pages of the code or in cases where the code is less than 20 pages, the entire code must be submitted.
Finally, as stipulated in the 2017 finance law, the powers of the Copyright Commission have been transferred to the Appeal Commission. However, it is important to note here that the President also promulgated the Court Reform Ordinance, 2021, which abolished the Intellectual Property Appeal Board (IPAB) and gave its powers to the Commercial Courts and to the Courts of First Instance. Therefore, the modification of the copyright rules should be read together with the Court Reform Ordinance to give effect to the transfer of powers.
While it is clear that the government has taken steps to bring transparency and efficiency to the operation, there are still issues that have not been resolved. Amendments to the Copyright Journal and Electronic Payments are needed but a bit late in the game. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate but the law seems to be lagging behind. Modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are gaining ground and evolving with the days. The technology behind AI has grown to such an extent that it can produce its own content without too much interference from humans. Indian copyright law now only gives rights to works of authors or owners who are natural persons. Therefore, provision should be made to include AI within its scope.
Another concern that has been relevant recently is the statutory licensing of Internet streaming services. Currently, the law does not contain any provision regarding the licenses required by Internet streaming services. There was some possibility of obtaining the license as a “broadcasting organization”, but this route was closed by the Bombay High Court in the case of Tips Industries Ltd. vs. Wynk Music Ltd. Although the 2019 draft rules have addressed this issue, no changes have occurred in the current amendment.
It is, however, relevant to note that a change of this magnitude cannot be implemented only by amending the rules unless the Copyright Act itself is amended. At this point, it seems that another wave of changes are needed, which would start with the Act and then spill over into the corresponding rules.
As expected, the rules focus mainly on increasing transparency and efficient management, but it is indisputable that substantial changes are still needed to bring the laws into coordination with technological advancements. However, it seems that these rule changes can only be made when corresponding changes have been made to the Copyright Act.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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