The legends of Indian cinema — Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor — may be dead, but their legacy still commands a price in the Indian film industry, which wants to hold on to the copyright of their works.
In the amendments sought to the Copyright Act, 1957 by the government, the Producers Guild has made a vehement appeal to extend the copyright period for cinematic works to 100 years.
The Act prescribes a uniform period of 60 years to claim copyright, even though the international norm as per the World Intellectual Rights Organisation is 50 years.
What has apparently prompted the move is that the copyright of many of the works of RK Films, the production house of Raj Kapoor, and well-known movies of Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy, would be coming to an end very soon.
In most cases, families of the filmmakers no longer hold the copyright. They are now with big production houses like Shemaroo, Eros International and Yash Raj productions. Losing copyright would mean losing business because old Bollywood movies are still in great demand in the domestic as well as in the international market, says a film industry source.
Therefore, Indian film bigwigs like Yash Raj Productions have asked the HRD Ministry to extend the copyright of cinematic works to 100 years. This was in response to comments sought from different sections on the amendments in the Copyright Act. Interestingly, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has also backed the film industry’s claim.