<b>XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II (Winter Session) </i> </b>
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Wednesday, December 22, 1999/Pausa 1, 1921 (Saka )

Title: Discussion on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 1999. (Bill passed.)

15.02 hrs.

MR. CHAIRMAN (SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA): Now let us take up Item No.18. The time allotted for this Bill is one hour.

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MR. CHAIRMAN : Motion moved:

"That the Bill further to amend the Copyright Act, 1957, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration."

SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL (PATAN): Mr. Chairperson, Sir, welcoming a few amendments which the hon. Minister want to carry out in view of the WTO requirement, I want to invite his attention to the fact that while we are protecting the rights of the authors and poets etc., who are alive today, we must go back to many years in our history where famous personalities like Meera, Raidas, Kabir and Narsi Mehta have also written poems and many articles about our country and about our sanskriti. Now, it is experienced that in our own cinema field, authors are making only some changes in the songs written by our Saints and Mahatmas and giving in their own name, earning credit and money. The Government should think about protecting the rights of our own Saints and Mahatmas. While protecting the rights of present authors and sahityakars -- extending the time limit to 50 years or 60 years is not the only solution -- we should not forget that there are many languages in our country. Suppose, an author from Kerala writes a book or a poem, he has no control over other Indian languages. The Government should have a machinery and they should see to it that once a book or a poem or something is written in one language, it should not be copied within the country. If somebody translates a book or a poem written in Malayalam, maybe, into Gujarati and gives his own name, what is the modus operandi with the Government to protect the rights of the authors in regional languages in our country?

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The Government should find out a solution to this particular problem, and there should be a Central Agency which should collect the books written in all the Indian languages. If an author applies for a copyright, then that information should be fed, and the Government should exercise its control. The rights of authors should be protected. This is the only submission from my side.

SHRI ANADI SAHU (BERHAMPUR, ORISSA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Sir. From 1952 Berne Convention to 1995 WTO Round, as a consequence of the Uruguay Round, we have come a long way.

Sir, when we have come a long way from Bern to WTO signature in 1995, many things have taken different shapes and so the Copyright Act must also take a different shape. My hon. friends in this august House would know that copyright mostly relates to and extends up to cultural activities of the country in literature, fine arts, music, painting, dancing, drama, sculpture, architecture and the vehicles of this culture. Whatever are the vehicles of this culture are related to the Copyright Act. Over the years, many other things have been added to it. It is mentioned in Section 38 of the Copyright Act that many other things have also been added taking into consideration the availability of creative genius, like the dream merchants produced the Doordarshan episodes and such other matters had to be taken into account in the Copyright Act.

Sir, as you would know, the WTO has had three aspects. One was the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade; the second was the General Agreement on Trade in Services; and the third was the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). When we think of the Copyright Act, we mostly have to think of the TRIPS. Now, what are the matters that the TRIPS has to think about? The hon. Minister has said that the TRIPS has to take into account as to how the countries should protect the rights of the international community so far as the property rights are concerned and as to how the matter has to be settled or the disputes are to be settled. There might be some transitional agreements relating to TRIPS. These are the matters which are being taken into account at this juncture in this Bill.

Sir, in supporting this Bill, I must say that we have travelled a long way and in travelling a long way we have acquired other properties which are tangible and which are not tangible. All these aspects would have to be taken into account. The tangible properties would have to be taken into account and the intangible properties also would have to be taken into account.

Sir, the two amendments that we have had earlier, the last amendment, I think, was in 1994, where we had added some intangible properties. We had added computers earlier. But the process of computers, the data base and all other such matters relating to computers are very complicated and have been getting into a lot of developed ideas. So, when we are thinking of the Copyrights Act vis-a-vis the TRIPS agreement, we have to change it at different places so as to adjust ourselves to the requirements of the international organisations. Now, as the hon. Minister has said, some of the properties become the domain of the public after a few years. In some cases where it was 50 years, it has now become 60 years. It was 25 years in some cases, now after this amendment it would become 50 years in some cases. It has been indicated in this Amendment Bill. But we have to take into account the requirements of this country, of this society and also the people who are here.At the same time we have to think of international commitments.

Sir, that is why, a measure of safeguard has to be inducted into the Copyright Amendment Act. I think, more is not possible now because of the transitional phase. Those safeguards can come later. The immediate requirement, as has been indicated in the Bill, is regarding the data base. Only the words `data base' has been made into plural in this Bill.

Sir, so far as the translations are concerned, I think, this TRIPS may not be of any help to the literary authors of India. There are many authors in India and as we all know, the writers in India are a poor lot and royalty also is very limited. As my predecessor has said that there is a lot of plagiarism in the fields of writing, music and even in architecture. Although we may say that there is no copying in architecture, but there is, in fact, copying in architecture as well.

So when we are thinking of any translation, we have to think of the public domain so far as India is concerned, and the persons who are associated with it must be given a little bit of help so as to see that in the international level, they are not marginalised or neglected.

Broadcasting, microfilming, litho photography and movie cinemas have come a long way in India. And, in movie cinemas, talkies, we are very adapt in copying from outside. After this Amendment, and after we have signed the TRIP Agreements, there will be a lot of difficulties for our dream merchants to cope up with the problems that they have to face. That is their way of facing the problems.

But my contention here is that we have to obey the enormous international obligations that have come to us, and we must cope up with these things. But so far as the Copyright Act itself is concerned, it is observed more in violation than in adherence. Those people who are genius, those who have some originality and write a book or create music, they do not get any sort of protection from the Government. We have to think about them. Whenever we are thinking of an Amendment, we have to think of stringent provisions. Then, there is Civil Procedures in dealing with copyright but the punishment given is only 3 years, and Rs. 50,000 as fine. That is nothing. Although these things are not within the ambit of the Amendment that is being placed today but I would urge the Government to think that some more stringent provisions could be enforced or could be enacted so as to prevent any sort of plagiarism or any sort of copying in flagrant violation of the Copyright Act.

About the amendments which have been indicated, Clause 42(a) is a very vital amendment which has been proposed, and it requires an immediate approval of the House. It has already been approved by the Rajya Sabha, and now, it requires the approval of this House. Clause 42 would be very important because of broadcasting organizations and performances. And, it is related to the trade and properties.

So, with these few words, I support this Bill.

SHRI SWADESH CHAKRABORTY (HOWRAH): Respected Chairman, Sir, on behalf of my party, CPI(M), I stand here to oppose this Amendment. They have said that `this Amendment to Copyright Act is a guided amendment. It is not an amendment which has been proposed by our Government'.

In the Statements of Objects and Reasons it is also written:

"India is a signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. As per Article 14 of the Agreement, the term of protection available to performers shall last at least until the end of a period for fifty years computed from the end of the calendar year in which the performance took place..."

The Copyright was for 25 years. It is very good that we extend it to 50 years or 100 years. The Copyright was for 50 years. It is very good that we extend it to 60 years. But what is the relation of the Amendment to Copyright with TRIPS so far as our Indian intellectual property is concerned? I come to the point of relation. The relation lies not in New Delhi. But the relation lies somewhere outside our country. Mr. Chairman, Sir, our respected colleagues sitting on your right and left, both of them, have surrendered to some foreign countries.

I quote from the 'Economic Times" of 4th May, 1998, New Delhi edition: "The United States has named India in Special 301 priority watch list."

We are in the watch list of the United States and we are an independent and sovereign country feeling pride of everything in us. So, a foreign country is bold enough to declare us as a country in the watch list. In continuation of the above quotation, it is stated as follows and I quote : "The Clinton administration has placed 13 other countries and the European Union on the list, US Trade representative Charlene Barshefsky said yesterday. India's Patent and Trade Mark laws continue to fall well short of providing adequate and effective protection."

To whom our laws give protection? Our law has to protect our country. Our law does not need to protect the US interests. So, US Trade representative has the audacity, I would rather say, to state that Indian law falls well short of providing adequate and effective protection .

"India has enacted modern Copyright legislation, but improvements continue to be necessary in the enforcement area."

The Amendment Bill by our HRD Minister is not a proposal from his Department or his own concern. It is a proposal which is guided by US State representative Chairman Barshefsky. And what is the result? He has directed us in the year, 1998 to move the amendment of Copyright for the interest of the US industries or other trading communities.

There was a convention in New Delhi on this Copyright Act. While inaugurating the convention, Justice S. B. Wad (retired) said: -

"The world has gone through three ages i.e. of wisdom, valour and commerce. In the present business-oriented age, even the field of knowledge is dominated by Goddess Lakshmi who has taken it over from her counterpart Goddess Saraswati, the imparter of knowledge and arts."

My respected HRD Minister is a worshipper of Goddess Saraswati. Why should he go for worshipping Goddess Lakshmi? He is an educated and respected man. Where lies the relation? Apparently it seems that this Copyright Amendment is for the interest of my own country. But I feel as a patriot, as a Bengali, as a proud Indian, that this Copyright Amendment Act is against the interest of my country because it is guided by US State Administration and bodies to the conditions of WTO. Have they been able to do it in all other countries?

Has the United States been able to promulgate their Acts and rules forcing other countries into the WTO list? ... (Interruptions)

What is the position with regard to other countries? I now quote from The Financial Express dated the 6th May, 1996 (New Delhi Edition):

"The White House and business groups are gearing up for a major push this month to renew China's favourable trading status, even as Washington proposes to impose sanctions in a dispute over copyright piracy."

In the name of copyright piracy, they wanted to put conditions on China. But China refused to budge and Washington had to give the MFN status in relation to trade to China. When China has the courage and boldness to say, `We are not going to abide by your dictation', our Government and our respected friends sitting on your right and left have signed off the sovereignty and integrity of the country. That is why I stand to object to this amendment.

The real purpose of this amendment is not to protect the interest of our country or our writers or our performers or our cultural organizations. It has been written clearly in clause 42 (a), `If it appears to the Central Government that a foreign country does not give or has not undertaken to give adequate protection to rights of broadcasting organizations or performers ..., the Government shall not give the necessary protection.' In the same page, clause 40 (a) (5) states, `In the case of ownership of rights of broadcasting organizations and performers the provisions of Chapter VIII shall apply with such exceptions and modifications as the Central Government may, having regard to the law of the foreign country, consider necessary.'