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Experts throw light on IPR and copyright issues
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? These and similar questions were discussed at a panel discussion on "Intellectual Property, Piracy and the Creative Industries" on the third and final day of the FICCI FRAMES convention being held in Mumbai.

The session, anchored by Vishnu Som, Editor and Senior Anchor, NDTV, 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.

Present on the panel was Dr G Raghavender, Registrar of Copyrights, Government of India. 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 Deepak Jacob, President and General Counsel, Star India, 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.

Ameet Datta, Partner, Saikrishna & Associates, 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 Mr Nandan Kamath of Copyright Integrity International. 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.

Annie Luo, Director, Media, Entertainment and Information Industries, World Economic Forum, 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.

Benoit Ginisty, Director General, FIAPF, 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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