copyright rules: Govt notifies Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021

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The government has notified Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 and included a new provision that eliminates the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette. To encourage accountability and transparency, new provisions have been introduced to deal with the undistributed royalty amounts and use of electronic and traceable payment methods while collection and distribution of royalties.

The compliance requirements for registration of software works have been reduced and the applicant can file the first 10 and last 10 pages of source code, or the entire source code if less than 20 pages, with no blocked out or redacted portions.

In India, the copyright regime is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Copyright Rules, 2013. The Copyright Rules, 2013 were last amended in the year 2016.

“The amendments have been introduced with the objective of bringing the existing rules in parity with other relevant legislations,” the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.

As per the amendments, a new rule has been introduced, whereby the copyright societies will be required to draw up and make public an Annual Transparency Report for each financial year and is aimed to reinforce transparency in working of copyright societies.

The amendments have harmonised the Copyright Rules with the provisions of Finance Act, 2017 whereby the Copyright Board has been merged with Appellate Board.

“This is going to be quite beneficial to the members of the copyright societies who are essentially artists, lyricists, musicians, singers, and the like,” said Aditi Verma Thakur, Partner, IndusLaw.

However, Verma said the rules also replace powers in favour of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) from the Copyright Board. Now that the newly notified Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, has abolished the IPAB, all the powers that are supposed to vest with the IPAB as per the Rules, are actually vesting with the High Courts.

The time limit for the Centre to respond to an application made before it for registration as a copyright society is extended to 180 days, so that the application can be more comprehensively examined.

As per Nishad Nadkarni, Partner, Khaitan & Co, the Amended Rules 2021 retain most of the amendments proposed in the draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules 2019 and pertain to the regulation of management and functioning of copyright societies which could result in a more transparent and streamlined functioning of such societies.

“The amendments which were proposed in the draft rules of 2019 in the context of internet broadcasting are missing and probably rightly so, since the principal statute that is the Act itself may need changes before the Copyright Rules are amended. The interpretational conundrum with regard to internet broadcasting thus continues,” Nadkarni said.

As per the statement, the move aims to ensure smooth and flawless compliance in the light of the technological advancement in the digital era by adopting electronic means as primary mode of communication and working in the Copyright Office.

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