The draft copyright policies released for public remark earlier this week represent an extremely good first in Indian copyright policy: an express articulation, though very quick, of the needs of the virtual era. The Department for Promotion of Internal Investment and Trade (DPIIT) has rightly mentioned the want “to ensure clean and perfect compliance of the Copyright Act in the mild of technological advancement.” Refreshing as this will sound, it is also a tad too past due and disappointing, thinking about that the most sizeable amendment to the Indian Copyright
Act, 1957 (“ICA”) become made in 2012 unlike inside the US and the EU in which copyright responses to the “internet risk” were shaped inside the late nineties. The 2012 Amendment added a fixed of middleman safe harbors for net carrier vendors and person-generated content material systems, however without a holistic discussion of what the digital generation realistically required to incentivize content production. I could characterize this modification as a possible loss in the din of dispensing the revenue pie among content creators and manufacturers, whilst the real attention ought to have been on growing the content material pie in a virtual setting.
In this regard, reviews over the past decade or so reveal the transition of the content economic system into a content plus enjoy economy. What is without a doubt powering the likes of a Spotify and a Netflix these days is as a great deal the behavioral and experiential statistics factors on purchasers because of the specific content material they provide. These content players are not only running “over the pinnacle” of internet pipes but however also of legacy content material. Therefore, to propel more innovation in this area, unlimited content material get right of entry to, although laced with equity and remunerative fairness among numerous stakeholders, is essential. This direction increases deeper questions regarding the property shape of copyright exclusions and their relevance in a virtual putting. Mindful of those dimensions, the proposed rules searching for to remove the judicial foundation of a recent verdict of the Bombay High Court and beautify the licensing opportunities for content get admission to. This is a superb coverage flow, and one consistent with the legislative choice made via the insertion of Section 31D of the ICA in 2012 — a provision that lets in the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) to repair rates of royalty and permits broadcasting establishments to avail statutory licenses from content proprietors at those pre-fixed costs as opposed to leaving topics to the vagaries of negotiation.
To apprehend the latest flow — substituting the express connection with radio and television broadcast with the greater generally worded “each mode of broadcast” in Rule 31, the rule that operationalizes Section 31D — we ought to revisit the unmarried judge order of the Bombay High Court in Tips Industries Ltd. V. Wynk Music Ltd. This decision, which came out in the month of April 2019, has arguably upended the business model and scale-up possibilities of on-demand music streaming systems. The central controversy on this industry-defining litigation was simple enough: does Section 31D practice to internet broadcasting? Tips Industries, the owner of sound recordings with a large repertoire of Bollywood music, argued that it would not, while Wynk track, a digital streaming platform contended that it’d. The single judge agreed with the former, rejecting the latter’s reliance on the obvious text of Section 31D and the intervening rationalization from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DPIIT’s predecessor) thru a workplace memorandum in 2016 that internet broadcasting groups might come within the purview of this provision.
Two key arguments raised by way of Tips resulted in this outcome. The first turned into heavily mired in property rhetoric, branding Section 31D an “expropriation regulation” that disadvantaged rights owners of their property. This turned into unsuitable at many tiers, most importantly at the level of drawing a tenuous parallel between copyright and real/tangible property assets. The concept of expropriation derives sustenance from herbal rights theory, in which it turned into time-honored that a person is entitled to the culmination of their labor, such as tangible property. This underlying foundation for belongings rights intangible belongings is far eliminated from the philosophical foundations of intangible rights, one this is drawn from the utilitarian idea and a cautious balancing of assets and social desires. Indeed, several instances in India’s intellectual property jurisprudence offer this exchange justification for defensive intangible assets as opposed to a herbal rights justification. Hence, a right consisting of copyright, totally created for instrumental motives beneath statute, should nicely be extinguished or constrained by means of the same statute without any worry of it being termed an act of expropriation. Otherwise, even the truthful use doctrine and the Delhi High Court verdict on the photocopying of books, predicated on this doctrine, could similarly qualify as similar acts of expropriation.
Unfortunately, the unmarried judge disagreed, maintaining that a strict production should be located on Section 31D because it becomes expropriatory in character. Lost on this characterization is a number of social desires superior through this mechanism. Here, it might be useful to consider that the Parliamentary Standing Committee which deliberated on this provision saw its application inside a far broader context: one where the obligatory licensing mechanism below Section 31 had no longer worked too well in the case of the radio enterprise. Apart from years spent in litigation, the radio industry did not have a whole lot to show in phrases of ease of acquiring licenses via the grievance mechanism envisaged under Section 31. Hence, the need changed into felt for a less complicated mechanism that helped override the transaction prices problem. The Committee had referred to in this regard that phase 31D “might work in favor of users of copyright works who would then no longer be difficult to prolong, costly and monopolistic negotiations with the aid of the proprietors of the work”. Behavioral principle scholarship, most drastically from Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Sprigman at the endowment effects of highbrow belongings rights, wherein people generally tend to price items greater enormously when they own or create them than after they do now not, lends additional electricity to this situation inside the shape of unwanted holdout consequences. In reality, Spotify’s delayed entry to the Indian market turned into brought about partially due to similar behavior at a part of some dominant music labels.
The 2nd crucial argument from Tips and that is what the newly proposed draft tries to override, turned into the reliance positioned on the Copyright Rules, 2013, to contend that only radio and television broadcasting became envisaged beneath the statutory license mechanism. No doubt, the applicable rule did mention fixing separate charges of royalty for these modes of the broadcast. But the definitions of “broadcast” and “conversation to the general public” within the ICA was huge enough to cover “any paintings to be had for being visible or heard or otherwise enjoyed via the public directly or by means of any manner of display or diffusion apart from with the aid of issuing physical copies of it, whether concurrently or at places and times chosen for my part, irrespective of whether any member of the public, in reality, sees, hears or otherwise enjoys the work so made to be had”. In the light of this large statutory mandate, it is inaccurate to diminish its natural which means through reliance on guidelines, which can be the most effective exercising of delegated authority by using the Executive. Moreover, if these policies can be relied on at all for this purpose, as the single decide proceeded to do, it’s miles distinctly uncertain why he selected to ignore a similar exercise of delegated authority, namely the following explanation vide workplace memorandum by using the DIPP in 2016 as stated above.
It remains to be visible whether or not the proposed guidelines come via. Even in the event that they do, it is nonetheless no longer certain that some other decide will refuse to undertake the equal good judgment of natural rights and expropriation that the single choose employed right here to restrictively interpret the scope of Section 31D. Moreover, piecemeal fixes can’t cope with what has been an extra chronic imaginative and prescient problem with Indian copyright regulation and coverage: the lack of ability to adapt the property structure to a brand new kind of content financial system and experience that demands extra, and not less, intake. Transaction prices and holdout effects are lots of worse troubles on these new surroundings than before. Therefore, there have to be no in addition delay in reflecting deeply on transitioning from belonging and exclusion-based total regime to a greater licensing-driven gadget that unlocks content for all while moderately remunerating the content material proprietor. Only that transition will provide us more innovation and richer stories.