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  • Abhishek Varshney

IPR in the Era of Digital Streaming

By: Abhishek Varshney, LLM, IFTM University, Moradabad

Abstract

Over the past several decades, India’s entertainment sector has expanded rapidly. The advent of the internet era has completely transformed almost all sectors, including finance, education, entertainment, and industry. The accessibility of access to internet services has given creators a strong platform on which to not only display their skills but also make use of their inventiveness. The rise in popularity of online streaming platforms may be attributed to the swift advancement of technology and the widespread availability of broadband connectivity in recent years. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, and other platforms are transforming the industry of entertainment by providing consumers with access to enormous collections of films, TV series, and original material. However, the emergence of internet streaming services has also given rise to certain copyright problems. These platforms offer a variety of content and make content recommendations based on your previous interactions with the site using artificial intelligence. Monitoring internet space or the OTT Platform isn’t an easy task for any authority as the internet space is not entirely controlled by any country aside from North Korea and China. We look at the complexities of copyright law and the difficulties Indian internet streaming services face under the regime of IPR in this Article.

Introduction

A streaming video service known as over-the-top (OTT) is one that is made available to users directly over the internet. This platform has surpassed television on cable, satellite, etc. In terms of functionality. In India, there are many OTT platforms operating, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hot star, Voot, and others. Contrary to film or television content, which are subject to regulation by the CBFC, BCCC, etc., OTT platforms are free to stream content without interference from any regulatory authority. Nowadays, few people openly admit to watching TV or going to the cinema. The days of watching video content only on television or in movie theatres are over because everyone is preoccupied with numerous internet platforms. The creation and distribution of films, feature films, documentaries, and web series have all been added to over-the-top platforms, commonly known as OTT platform services. Over-the-top platforms originally served as content hosting platforms. India has seen a marked rise in the consumption of video content over the past several years thanks to these sizable online platforms. There are no laws or regulations controlling OTT platforms in India because they are a new kind of entertainment. These platforms offer a variety of contents and provide content recommendations based upon your previous engagements with the site using AI Algorithms. The majority of platforms that are entirely for-profit offer some of their material for free while also charging a monthly subscription price for exclusive prime video.[1] The members to this contract must adhere to certain rules about the online service that is offered. Online streaming services occasionally feature offensive content like vulgarity, nudity, violence, and uncensored video.

Understanding Copyright Law 

A creator of an original piece of literature, music, film, or art is granted the legal privilege known as copyright. This prevents others from utilizing or profiting from artists’ work without permission and grants them the only right to copy, distribute, and exhibit their creations. The Copyright Act, of 1957, which establishes the legal foundation for defending intellectual property rights, governs copyright protection in India. All original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, cinematographic, and sound recording works are protected by Section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957. Copyright shields expressions rather than ideas, in contrast to patents. 

In order to put online streaming services and broadcasting under the jurisdiction of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, Section 31 D was enacted in 2012. The legal framework and statutory license for the broadcasting of sound recordings and literary and musical works are provided under Section 31D.This Section, when combined with Rules 29 and 30 of the Copyright Rules 2013, allows any broadcasting company to utilize a compulsory license to transmit any previously published music or sound work to its audience. However, opinions on statutory licensing of online streaming services have differed, primarily because the term “internet streaming” is not included specifically in the 2013 Copyright Rules.

 Digital content complaint council (dccc)

The discussion of content control on OTT platforms has India at its centre. Online obscenity has caused controversy in the nation and raised more questions than it has resolved, as evidenced by the latest call for legislation enacting OTT platform and web channel control to remove pornographic content. The media and entertainment scene will change as a result of the legislation in this area. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has approved a guideline for self-regulation for online video streaming platforms that was created by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The Digital Content Complaint Council, an industry organization, will be established as a result of the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s adoption of a new material code to regulate content on online streaming platforms (DCCC)[2].The code forbids several materials that deal with child pornography, terrorist acts, and contempt for national symbols. It requested that the platform owners categorize and arrange the content in accordance with the audiences or viewers of various ages. A guiding statement that is displayed on the platform display as a content descriptor, as well as content that is age-appropriate for minors, is also necessary for identifying the type of content.

A number of items that discuss child pornography, terrorism, and disrespect for national symbols are prohibited by the code. The platform owners were tasked with categorizing and organizing the content in accordance with the consumers or viewers of varied ages. It is also required to identify the sort of content by using a guiding statement that is posted on the platform as a content descriptor and content that is suitable for minors [3].

Legal protections concerning OTT platforms

Due to the fact that the Cinematograph Act of 1952 only applies to movies intended for theatrical release, movies that are broadcast online do not fall under its requirements. OTT platforms enjoyed complete freedom in contrast to traditional cinema, which resulted in many instances where a vast number of grievances were lodged on grounds of immorality, hurting of religious sentiments, pornographic material, etc., hence the need of the hour to regulate this space. Any certifications of a film by the CBFC do not apply to the contents streaming live on OTT platforms. The existing laws in effect in India addressing the content of OTT platforms:

Indian Penal Code, 1860: Any person who indulges in the activities of selling and distributing any work of literature which is obscene is a punishable offence under Section 293. Any person who has the intention of outraging the religious sentiments with malice is punishable offence under Section 295A, releasing of defamatory content is punishable under Section 499 and if/and when any person insults the modesty of a woman is punishable under Section 354[4].

The POSH Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses): to safeguard kids from crimes committed both offline and online. One of the most important pieces of legislation that guarantees children’s protection from numerous crimes like sexual assault, other forms of harassment, and cyber pornography is this one.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act of 1986: expressly forbids the degrading depiction of women in print, film, television, and online media.

Information Technology Act, 2000: Section 67-A of the act punishes publishing or transmitting sexually explicit acts, etc. In electronic form. Section 67-B of the act punishes publishing or transmitting children in sexual acts, etc. In electronic form. Section 69A of the act gives the government the authority to restrict access to certain materials for public consumption.

“IT Rules “Guidelines for Intermediaries and the Digital Media Ethics Code, 2021 – The Government of India released this piece of legislation that lays out the rules for the intermediaries to follow, which includes the OTT platforms under Information Technology Act, after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) discussed and consulted with various stakeholders regarding any form of regulation of OTT platforms to make the sector more efficient. The five age-based groups that the OTT platforms must self-categorize into are U (universal), U/A (7 years), U/A (13 years), U/A (16 years), and A (adult). OTT platforms need to offer parental lock. The Press Council of India’s Norms of Journalistic Conduct and the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act’s Program Code must both be followed by the digital media. To create a three-tiered grievance resolution process additionally, it calls for the recruitment of an Indian-based grievance officer who will respond to complaints within 15 days. Additionally, there must be a separate self-regulatory organisation of publishers made up of no more than two former Supreme Court or High Court judges, one eminent individual, or both [5].

The Digital India Act -Digital India Act To Monitor OTT and Social Media Platforms[6]By the winter session of Parliament, Ministry of Electronics and IT (meity) hopes to update the current IT Act 2000.The Digital India Act would cover web applications like the met averse and block chain in addition to social media and OTT platforms and online apps. It is stated that the proposed Digital India Act will oversee regulations governing e-commerce and cybercrime. Additionally, the DIA will be responsible for any content policy violations by OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, including distributing false information or inciting violence. Everything digital, including social media platforms, OTT platforms, online apps, and web applications like the met averse and block chain, would be covered by the Digital India Act.

Conclusion

The Digital Content Complaint Council, which unites the majority of online streaming services, has established a method for complaint redress (DCCC). Customers can go to the DCCC if the platform owner is not helpful in resolving their complaints. Through an amendment to Section 79 of the Information Technology Act of 2000, the government advocated internet restriction. Censorship is necessary for the internet streaming content seen on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Voot, and similar ones. The platforms must be able to self-regulate how online information is streamed. For content producers, there are also some legal considerations. Regardless of copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights, along with privacy rights and more, they must maintain certain features in the open. Along with creators, there are also rules for directors who are involved in producing content for the general audience. Concerns range from privacy to the right to publicity. More crucially, the Digital India Act would establish protections for women’s and children’s safety as well as rules to stop the dissemination of false information. In order to prevent the spread of false information, the Digital India Act will also monitor the material on OTT services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. In this regard, the government will also release a set of “content standards” for OTT services. Working together, the government and OTT platforms may put a stop to this problem once and for all.

References-

[1] Anubhooti Saw, Censorship and OTT Platforms: Critical Analysis,Latestlaw.com, (July. 07, 2021),https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/censorship-and-ott-platforms-critical-analysis, (last visited on Nov 04,2022)

[2] Exclusive: IAMAI’s new code for online content streaming sets up a self-regulatory body, incorporates penalties, https://www.medianama.com/2020/02/223-iamai-content-code-dccc/ (last visited Nov. 07 2022).

[3] Majority of Indians Feel Censorship Should Be Mandatory for OTT Platforms, https://inc42.com/buzz/majority-of-indians-feel-censorship-should-be-mandatory-for-ott-platforms/ (last visited Nov 8, 2022).

[4] Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, 1860, 35th Edition, 2021, Lexis Nexis

[5] Ministry Of Electronics And Information Technology, it (Intermediaries guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021,G.S.R. 139(E).(February, 25, 2021) , https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/IT%28Intermediary%20Guidelines%20and%20Digital%20Media%20Ethics%20Code%29%20Rules%2C%202021%20English.pdf, (last visited on Nov. 7 2022)

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