STATUTORY RE. SOLUTION RE DISAPPROVAL OF THE COPYRIGHT (AMEND- MENT) ORDINANCE, 1991 AND COPYRIGHT (AMENDMENT) BILL
MR. SPEAKER: The House shall now take up items 16 and 17
together. Shri Lokanath Choudhury. He is not here. Shri Girdhari Lal Bhargava.
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA (Jaipur): Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move:
"That this House disapproves of the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance, 1991 (Ordinance No. 9 of 1991) prom-
961 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of copyright (Amend.) ulgated by the president on the 28th December, 1991".
SHRI RAM VILAS PASWAN (Rosera): Mr. Speaker Sir, I request you that there was consensus in Business Advisory Committee regarding the holiday on 20th. The Upper House has declared it as a holiday. Here also B. J. P., C. P. I., C. P.I. (M) and my party is of the opinion that, if the House agrees, 20th should be declard as a holiday, be- cause in Bihar hli will be celebrated on 18th. The Members from Bihar will return to their home.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I will decide about it tomorrow at 10 A. M. Shri Girdhari Lal Bhargava, would like to say something.
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA: Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Ordinance which has been promulgated regarding copyright is in a way an old order.
Actually the point was to extend the time of reprint of the books written by Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore and that is why an amendment was brought forward. The hon. Minister has brought an Amendment to substitute 40 by 50 and 50 by 60. When he saw that there was a repeated demand by the committee of Shanti Niketan, an institution set up by Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore himself, to bring an amendment to enable them to continue to publish Shri Tagore's works, he brought this amendment. Others also made a similar demand. It is not an ordinary matter. Since the time was due to expire in December, 1991, this ordinance was promulgated. I think it is not proper to promulgate ordinances frequently in this manner. There are no two opinions that the hon. Minister's intention was clean, but I feel that for such things....
MR. SPEAKER: It is all right. It will be implemented for all.
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA:
Ordinance and 962 Copyright (Amend.) Bill
Bringing forward ordinances for such reasons is not proper. You have given these rights to all except those who had got rights before 1991, I hope the hon. Minister will explain the position while replying to the debate.
MR. SPEAKER: Motion moved:
"That this House disapproves of the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance, 1991 (Ordinance No. 9 of 1991) promulgated by the President on the 28th December, 1991".
THE MINISTER OF HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT (SHRI ARJUN SINGH): Sir, I beg to move:
"That the Bill further to amend the Copyright Act, 1957, be taken into consideration."
If I have understood the hon. Member correctly, he is not against the substance of the Bill, but he thinks that perhaps we should have done it in the normal source and not brought it up as an Ordinance.
There were opinions that were coming to us on this account and we had to consult a large number of people. There were representations from the State Governments, from some hon. Members also and therefore in that process some delay occurred; and this had to be done by an Ordinance because the Copyright Act expired on 31.12.1991.
The extension that we have given for ten years is actually a means; we have tried to reduce being too much for it. Some sug- gestions were made for 17 years, some were for more years, but we thought that ten years should be given; and this is eligible for every one. This is not only for Guru Tagore's works; of course, Guru's works are a class by
963 Stat. Res. re. dis- approval of copyright (Amend.)
[Sh. Arjun Singh]
themeselves. It was considered an appropriate therefore to extend this for another ton years.
MR. SPEAKER: Motion moved:
"That the Bill further to amend the Copyright Act, 1957, be taken into consideration."
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA (Jaipur): I beg to move:
"That the Bill be circulated for the purpose of eliciting opinion thereon by the 25th June, 1992." (1)
PROF. RASA SINGH RAWAT (Ajmer): I beg, to move:
"That the Bill be circulated for the purpose of eliciting opinion thereon by the 30th June, 1992." (2)
MR. SPEAKER: Shri Bijoy Krishna Handique.
[MR- DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair]
SHRI BIJOY KRISHNA HANDIQUE (Jorhat): I rise to support the Copyright (Amendment) Bill. This is a wise decision to extend the term of Copyright generally, in all the works protected by the Copyright Act of 1957. Thought, originally, the intention was to accord extended protection to Gurudev Rabindranath's works in view of their national importance, legally, it is essential to extend the term of Copyright, generally, even to protect Gurudev Rabindranath's works.
The decision is significant.
During the anext ten years, we shall watch how the Visva Bharati University does
Ordinance and 964 Copyright (Amend.) Bill
not only to protect the works of Kavi Guru Rabindranath but how to popularise his works and yet lift them from the intrigue of cornmer- cialisation and publish authentic and entire works of Kavi Guru Rabindranath Tagore at a low price.
For complaints against Visva Bharat are in the air. Though it is a well considered decision to allow Viswa Bharti to retain the Copyright, complaints from distinguished educationists, writers and intellectuals must be considered too. Their opinions cannot be dismissed summarily.
We have to admit that, as has been claimed by distinguished intellectuals that all is not well with the Visva Bharati and the manner in which it has made use of the copyright in recent times is not inspiring.
Sir, I want to make it clear, Test I may be misunderstood, that when I say that the Government's decision to extend the protection and allow the Visva Bharati to retain them copyright is wise, it is not because of the fact that Kavi Guru desired before his death the copyright be given to Visva Bharati for publication. If the copyright is not protected, his works will be exposed to a sinister commercial design and ultimately only a handful of works which sell fast will be promoted and the remaining volumes of his works will lie untouched.
As a result a large number of his works will not be published or re- published. To save Kavi Guru's works from rank commercialism, Visva Bharati is the only answer. For it can rise above commercialism and promote his works from the point of view of research, aesthetic and historical assessment. But that does not mean that Visva Bharati remains indifferent to the criticism of the various organisations and authors.
For those who are inclined to hold the view that Visva Bharati fails to do full justice to the promotion of Kavi Guru's works, are high dignitaries of India's culture and litera-
965 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of copyright (Amend.)
ture and art. Allegations of incomplete and incorrect texts poor translations, indifferent production standards and an obsession with self-safeguarding the copyright, instead of putting It to good use have been levelled and which have allegedly fallen on the deaf cars of the Visva Bharati authorities.
There is no reason to believe that this organised reaction of these intellectuals has anything to do with individual annoyance or grudge or is inspired by calculations other than merit. On the contrary, it is a rational analysis of Visva Bharati's lapses when it was expected to set standers of excellence in production, editing and marketing.
Their specific allegation is that Visva Bharati has not been also to bring to light a large volume of Kavi Guru Rabindranath's prose, many of his short works published in various periodicals, including important letters and the popular view is that the correctness and completeness of the publication is questionable. That is another complaint. They have been claiming that the last volume of Gurudev Rabindranath's Collected Works came out in 1965 and the intervening 26 years have given enough causes, enough grievances among the readers and research scholars.
Let the Government watch what steps the Visva Bharati takes during the next ten years to present authentic Tagore, and complete Tagore and inexpensive Tagore. But if the Visva Bharati, however, fails in its commitment, in the course of the next ten years, it forfeits the right to come to the Government again to plead its case.
I am, however, confident that the Visva Bharati which is the creation of Kavi Guru Rabindranath himself, and it was the creator's desire that the right of publication rests with Visva Bharati, will be able to protect his works and preserve the purity and authenticity of text and also launch a drive for translation and re-translation into the Indian lan-
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guages or even to foreign languages. It is agreat responsibility and faith placed in the service of the Visva Bharati. The other after- native is to leave Tagore's works to the mercy of unrestrained commercialism of the big publishers whose motivation is guided by the best seller psychosis. They might argue that the best sellership is the readership among millions. But what about those which are not meant for best sellers? The best sellership is no criterion for aesthetic heights and excellence. It will be a sad day if the horizon of Tagore readership is cribbed and circumscribed by the materialistic consideration of profit and loss of. the flourishing publishing houses.
Sir, all our talks about the protection of the author however end up in irrelevance when we have a copyright law without enough teeth.
The infringement of Copyright Act is everywhere. But the problem is acute in third world because people cannot afford to buy books. Even in developed countries like U. K., U. S. A., this problem is there.
One should however, have no illusion that it more reprints are available, it will put an end to the photocopying of books thought it may be slightly controlled.
And piracy is not limited to the context of west versus third world. Even a book published in India is pirated in other third world countries. The tragic irony is that an Indian author's book is pirated in India because of the high price of the book. Thus, the piracy of book is nothing to do with the South or North. If the book is successful in the market, there is no guarantee against its being pirated.
In 1985-86, the Copyright Act was amended not because there ways a concern to save the book industry but because of video piracy. I urge the Government to take adequate steps in purview of the 1983 amendments, in respect of making foreign books available at a reasonable price through compulsory licensing so as to meet expedi- 967 Stat. Res- re. disapproval of copyright (Amend-)
[Sh. Bijoy Krishna Handique]
tiously the country's requirement for scientific and technical books published abroad and reproduction of books required for teaching, research and other systematic instructional activities.
Why I have raised this point is this- We have now amended the Copyright Act to give protection to one of the world's great litter- ateurs. But if the copyright infringement is rampant and frequent, then how can we protect the great works of this great man?
There was a newsitem published in a newspaper. It was reported in some of the newspapers that one gentlemen went to a book stall in or Railway station. One of the State of our country. I do not want to name Mat State, which might be a reflection on that State. He found in that bookstall a book, which was a translation of Ravindranath Tagore's Gora. Along with dim there were a few pages of pornography printed. What can the Government do to protect such works?
So. the penal measures must be strengthened and properly enforced. But merely strengthening of the penal measures is not enough. The Government should do something to see that the books are available within the easy reach of the people.
I wanted to raise this point in the course of this discussion.
The main discussion, is however an extension of this copyright to Gurudev Tagore's words. Vishwa Bharati should bring out an authentic Tagore. complete Tagore and inexpensive Tagore, within the easy reach of the people.
With there words, I support this Amendment Bill. I hope the Government will also take measures so that the Copyright Act is protected against infringement.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Translation of the speech originally delivered in Bengali.
Ordinance and 968 Copyright (Amend.) Bill
*SHRIMATI MALINI BHATTACHARAYA (Jadavpur): Hon'ble Deputy
Speaker, in this copyright (Amendment) Bill, 1992, the effective clause is in the 5th Chapter of Copyright Act where the period of copyright has been extended from 50 to 60 years. Other creative works like Art, film etc. are also protected in this. It seeks extension of time limit by 10 years. Why this extension of time limit has been sought. In the three objective stated by the Government, the case of Rabindra Nath has boon referred to. After Rabindra Nath's death, the copyright of his works was given to Vishwa Bharati. As per rule, the copyright would have expired in December, 1991. So Tagoer's writings would have been available for any publisher to publish.
Ten years have been extended by this new Act. While stating the objective, it has been said that because the period of copyright can not be extended for a particular author. so this extension covers all the writers.
There questions arise in this regard. The first question is, whether there can be a change in the act or not. The second question is whether the common reader eager to read Rabindra Nath or get aquainted with other renowned India Writers, would be benefitted and the third question is why this extension of ten years only. Why not more or less'?
I don't want to give more importance to the legal side. Because I feel if there is any lacuna in an act space for amendment should always be there.
India has been the partner in two Inter-
969 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of copyright (Amend.)
national convention on copyright (1) Berne convention and (2) Unesco convention. Generally the countries under Berne convention, recognise the term of copyright for 50 years. But exceptions are there.
Federal Republic of Germany and Austria extended the period of 50 years to 70 years through Parliamentary Act in 1965. In India also that period of 30 years was extended to 50 years. In the second convention i. e. Unesco convention, where India is one of the signato- ries, the internal legislation has been recognized for the protection of copyright. No rigid international standard has been recognised with regards to protection of copyright by national legislation. So even after being a partner in these two international conventions, if any country feels the need to extend the time limit for any literary work it faces no legal restriction. Originally the govt. sought to amend the copyright act because the copyright of Rabindra Nath was going to expire. So it is necessary to say a word or two on Rabindra Nath. It has been rightly said by my previcus Speaker that it cannot be claimed that Viswa Bharati has been completely successful in publishing the writings of Tagore. It cannot be denied that allong with success failures are also there. I agree with my previous Speaker in this regard.
In the case of Rabindra Nath, this extension of 10 years means than the Copyright of his writings remains with Viswa Bharati for another 10 years whereas the extension of time limit for other writers means the copyright will be enjoyed by some persons like his relatives or inheritors. According to some people this monopoly of copyright and extension of time limit without freedom to publish would create impediment in making the writings of the great writers of the country easily available to the common reader. So they feel that the writings of Rabindra Nath should be made free from the monopoly of Viswa Bharati and there should not be any extension of time limit. This view has been expressed by many eriters, intellectuals, and creative art- -
Ordinance and 970 Copyright (Amend.) Bill
ists. We agree with them to some extent. We also feel that it should be our endeavour to make as much as possible the writings of Rabinidra Nath, the complete writings, the authentic writings of Rabindra Nath, easily available for common reader. Of course, this objective is meant for all great writers like Prem Chand or Subra Maniam Bharati.
Their creative works are our national wealth. So they should be enjoyed lay all.
Now if we feel that after the expiry of time limit of copyright, literature because free for publication. then the extension means unnecessary delay of this freedom of publication. But is it so in reality ? We have no reason to believe that authentic, complete Rabindra Nath would have been easily available for common reader even after the expiry of his copyright on 31st December, 1991. We have a different experience. In the case of other great writers in Bengali like Rabindra Nath or Sukumar Roy, market was flooded with publication of substandard editions with cheap pictures of their books after the expiry of copyright of their writings. And moreover the publishers with only regard for prof it will publish only a few popular books of Rabindra Nath. We can not have the complate Rabindra Nath in the publication world.
If we want to give freedom of publication for Rabindra Nath or any great writer or want to make their complete authentic, undistorted writings easily available then we can not leave them in the bands of great business lobby or at the mercy of whimsical ups and downs of the market.
In their recommendation, the Haksar committee expressed the opinion that if national intellectual property is to be utilised for benefit of the people then you can not leave this in the hands of market force. Even the Government owes certain responsibility in this regard.