A Dual System of Copyright Protection for Films: Should India Go the Norowzian Way?
Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, 2010, Vol. 5, No. 3
8 Pages Posted: 5 May 2012
Date Written: February 2, 2010
Legal context: Two decisions of the Bombay High Court, India, have established that copyright protection given to films is identical with the pre-1988 position in the UK — indicating that copyright lies in the ‘medium’ rather than in the content of the film. These judgments have correctly interpreted the Indian Copyright Act as it stands. Several critical aspects of a film being unprotected, this position of law has resulted in manifest injustice to producers and film-makers.
Key points: The UK Court of Appeal's decision in Norowzian v. Arks is the first to have regarded films to be protectable not only as films per se, but also as ‘dramatic works.’ A similar degree of protection should be accorded to films in India. This can be effected by amending the definition of ‘dramatic works,’ which would grant films a dual system of protection. An amendment of the Indian Copyright Act would balance competing considerations of safeguarding copyrighted works and encouraging technological progress.
Practical significance: Reproduction of films has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in India. Animation styles, camera tricks and techniques, and video editing techniques lie unprotected under the present copyright regime. Film-makers are left without a remedy when these segments of their films are copied. Film copyright law in India, founded on stereotyped notions of a producer's role, ignores several crucial aspects of a film and is in urgent need of amendment.
Keywords: copyright, India, Norowzian, films, dramatic works
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