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New Copyright Amendment Rules, 2021: An Overview

The government of India has earlier this year, introduced amendments to the Copyright Rules, 2013. The changes introduced by way of the 2021 amendment are meant to bring harmony between all existing rules and other related legislations. Some of the changes focus on easing compliances by adapting the laws to consider technological advancements.
The government of India had earlier this year introduced amendments to the Copyright Rules, 2013 (‘Copyright Rules’) via the Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

The copyright rules along with the Copyright Act, 1957 (‘Copyright Act’) are the primary laws governing the registration and regulation of copyright work in India. The changes introduced by way of the 2021 amendment are meant to bring harmony between all existing rules and other related legislations. Some of the changes focus on easing compliances by adapting the laws to consider technological advancements. The highlights from the amendments are discussed in detail below.

Major Changes Introduced via the 2021 Amendment:

Substitution of the Copyright Board: Rule 3 of the copyright rules had laid down the requirement for a Copyright Board, and the terms and conditions of the Chairman and members of the Board.

This rule has now been substituted with the following changes:

The ‘Copyright Board’ has been substituted by the ‘Appellate Board’:
The Chairman and other members of the Board shall be appointed according to the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The Technical Member of the Board will however have to have the qualifications as specified in the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal, and Other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience, and Other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020.

Changes to rules for collection of royalty by Copyright Societies: Copyright Societies that are registered under the Copyright Act are engaged in the business of issuing and granting copyright licenses related to literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work that is incorporated in a film or recording. A copyright society is allowed to collect royalties according to the tariff schemes laid down concerning the licenses issued for the specific rights for the specific work that the society has been authorized to administer.

The royalty collected by the copyright society in such a manner is usually distributed according to the distribution scheme. Rules 44 to 67 lay down the guidelines for copyright societies under the copyright rules.

Under the amendment, the following rule has been inserted to rule 55, which deals with the collection of royalty by a copyright society:
(3) The copyright society concerning the collection of royalty under sub-rule (1) and distribution of royalty under sub-rule (2) of this rule, shall create a system of payment through electronic modes and shall establish a system through which the payments so made are traceable.”

The rule implies that a digital payment system for the collection and distribution of royalty by copyright societies must be created, and the same must be stored through electronic means.

New rules concerning the collection of royalty have been introduced as follows:

If royalty cannot be distributed within the time specified in (8) of rule 55 by a copyright society, in the instance where the authors could not be identified or located, then such royalty payments have to be maintained separately in the books of accounts of the society. The copyright society has to take all the means necessary to locate and identify authors and owners of the copyrighted material.

At the end of every quarter, if they cannot identify such authors or owners then they have to publish the following onto their websites:
The title of the copyrighted work, Names of the authors and owners of the copyrighted work, any relevant information that may help to identify the authors or owners.

If royalties remain undistributed to the owners and authors three years from the end of the financial year when the royalty was collected, then such royalty payments may be transferred to the welfare fund of the society for their use.

New rules have also been introduced under Rule 66(1) of the copyright rules, detailing new items that must be made available by the society on their website. According to the amendment, the following items must also be displayed on the website of the copyright society:
A facility allowing a search of the works forming the repertoire of the society. The Annual Transparency Report, as authorized by the general body. Details of royalty which has not been distributed as the authors or owners could not be identified or located.

Annual Transparency Report: A new rule concerning publishing an annual transparency report has been introduced for copyright societies. The following rule has been inserted after Rule 65 and mandates that all copyright societies must draw up and publish an ‘annual transparency report’ within six months from the end of every financial year. The report should be made available on the website of the copyright society for at least three years.

The report should also contain the following information:

Reports on the activities undertaken by the society in the specified financial year. The number of refusals/rejections of the grant of licenses. The financial statements on the royalties that are collected. Information on the royalty paid to the authors and owners of the copyright. Information on the royalty collected but not distributed to the authors or owners of the copyright. The administrative deductions that have been made from the royalty collected. The details of the amounts deducted for funding activities conducted under the welfare scheme of the society as determined under Rule 67 of the copyright rules. Information on amounts received and paid to foreign societies or organizations.

Changes to accommodate electronic records:

The rules have been adapted to account for the use of electronic media and the adaptation of technological advances.

The following changes have been introduced:

A copyright journal has been introduced, which will be available on the official website. This will eliminate the requirement of publishing in the official gazette, as it will have to be published in the copyright journal instead. Rule 70 which details the requirements for application for the registration of copyright has been amended to reduce the compliance requirement for registration of copyright of software. In sub-rule 5 of Rule 70, instead of the “source and object code”, the applicant may submit the first ten and last ten pages of the source code.

In (1) of Rule 69, the phrase “The Register of Copyrights shall be kept in physical and electronic form” has been changed to physical or electronic form.
Similarly, in (1) of Rule 72, the Indexes may be kept in the copyright office in physical or electronic form. The requirement of arranging the indexes in alphabetical order has been removed.

Rule 82 has been changed to allow that all written communication from the Board, copyright office, or Registrar of Copyrights will be deemed to be communicated if it has been to the address of the required person through electronic means or post. New rules for payment of fees under Rule 83 have been prescribed. Fees may be paid electronically or through a bank by demand draft.

Effect of the Amendment:

The amendment of the copyright rules has mainly been introduced to harmonize the copyright rules with other similar rules. The amendments also introduce new measures of making more information available on the websites, publication in the copyright journal, reducing compliance requirements for application of copyright for computer software, etc. to adopt electronic means as the primary means of communication and to encourage the adoption of advanced technology.

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