Copyright Act, 1957 and Copyright Rules, 2013 (last amended in 2016) govern the Copyright regime in India. Vide, the Gazette Notification, dated March 30, 2021, the Government notified Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 to bring the existing rules in consonance with other existing relevant laws in the country. The key highlights of this amendment and their implications can be discussed as under:

Introduction of Copyright Journal: A recent provision regarding the publication of a Copyright Journal has been introduced. This means that the requirement for publication in the Official Gazette has been removed, and this Copyright Journal will be available on the official website.

Implication: The modification is being proposed in light of technological advancements in the digital era. Electronic media plays a critical role as a means of communication, and this change will ensure smooth and flawless compliance.

Accountability and Transparency: The amendment added a new rule, Rule 65A, under which Copyright Societies must create and publish an ATR (Annual Transparency Report) for each financial year within six months after the end of the financial year. In addition, a new clause is included to deal with royalty amounts that have not been disbursed and the use of electronic and “traceable payment methods” to collect and distribute royalties.

Implication: This is done to ensure accountability and transparency in the functioning of Copyright Societies. This will keep a stringent check on ensuring that the royalties are duly paid to the artists.

Copyright for Software: For easing the compliance requirements regarding the registration of software works, the amendment has provided the relaxation where the applicant can only file the first ten and last ten pages of the source code or the entire source code in case it is less than 20 pages.

Implication: While the earlier requirement under Rule 70 sub-rule 4 required the application of computer software to submit the complete source and object mode, the new amendment has made it much easier for the applicant to make an application.

Registration of Copyright Societ: The amendment has increased the time limit for the Central Government to file a response to an application made before registering a copyright society. Before the amendment, the Central Government had to file a response within sixty days which is now extendable to one hundred- and eighty days post the amendment.

Implication: Such a provision will allow the Central Government to examine the applications comprehensively with adequate time.

The Merger of Copyright Board: The amendment substituted the title “The Copyright Board under Chapter II to “The Appellate Board“. This means that the Copyright Board has been merged with the Appellate Board.

Implication: This has harmonized the Copyright Rules with the provisions of the Finance Act, 2017.

Conclusion: The amendment is introduced to make the Rules harmonious with the existing laws. It focuses on converting to and encouraging ‘electronic communication’ as the primary mode of communication for all official purposes. The key amendment pertains to the regulation of Copyright Societies to streamline their operations and ensure more transparency in their functioning. It has also extended the Central Government’s duration to file a response when an application for registration of a Copyright Society is made. Not only this, it further intends to make it easier for registration of software works under the Copyright Act.

Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.