19 July 2019

[Link] The Future of Copyright Policy in India

In 2012, the Copyright Act was amended in a way that made the law itself more equitable and protected works more accessible especially to people with disabilities. There remained more work to be done though, and there's now another round of copyright amendment underway, this time via the Copyright Rules. The specifics of endeavours to amend copyright law aside, my colleague, Sidharth, and I consider the future of copyright policy in India arguing for increased emphasis on evidence-based policy development over at Medianama (11 July 2019) and Bar and Bench (13 July 2019):

What has been almost consistently absent from the process of developing copyright policy in the M&E sector has been a reliance on evidence. Data is hard to come by, and solid econometric analyses of the likely effects of policy proposals is rarely, if ever, conducted. Experience has shown that the 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act, though well-intentioned, have had the effect of significantly narrowing the scope of negotiating copyright contracts, and it has not always been obvious that this served anyone’s interests although ‘experience’ is a subjective term and relies, in this case, on little more than anecdata often shared within the copyright community, such as it is. 
A robust regime for content creation and utilisation is the need of the hour. Although there is a clear need to establish minimum standards to ensure that individuals are not unjustifiably exploited, there is no evidence to suggest that either the law itself or legal regulators should focus on nothing substantial beyond fixing the prices for content acquisition and exploitation whether to advance public interest or serve the requirements of individual artists. This is particularly true since attempts at safeguarding various interests have rarely been backed by facts and figures, and have severely impinged on both the freedom to contract and market flexibility. While it’s true that hard evidence rarely tells the whole story in any context, it is also true that making essentially financial decisions based on sentiment and gut feeling alone is not ideal.  
As opposed to merely regulating prices, regulators and, for that matter, the Board should function as watchdogs which step in to address discrimination and the imposition of unreasonable terms. This requires a sea change in attitudes towards the development of copyright policy. Prudence has to be shown by both the state and the stakeholders of the media and entertainment landscape so that the sector does not become over-regulated in ways that do not necessarily benefit anyone in the long run.

(This post is by Nandita Saikia and was first published at IN Content Law.)

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