Earlier today, the Lok Sabha on the last day of the current budget session, unanimously voted in support of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012, which has been pending in Parliament for the last two years, with overwhelming support from members across the political spectrum. Minister Sibal was also commended by all the speakers for the amendments being brought in by the Bill. The Bill had been passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17th of May, 2012. We had blogged about it over here. Today's debates can be accessed over here, here and here. Please note that these are the uncorrected versions of the debate. Minister’s Sibal’s speech introducing the Bill on the floor of the House can be accessed over here.
The Bill was originally not listed for voting in revised ‘list of business’ but in the supplementary to the list of business. Given the last minute listing of the Bill, it appears that Minister Sibal was determined to have this bill passed in this session itself. Normally such last minute additions to the ‘list of business’ have great potential to elicit opposition from the opposition. However in this particular case, the Leader of Opposition Ms. Sushma Swaraj herself commended the Speaker for accelerating the passage of this very important legislation.
|Sushma Swaraj. Image from here|
Ms. Swaraj who spoke for a good twenty minutes, delivered a speech which was as passionate, if not more, than Javed Akhtar’s speech in the Rajya Sabha. Leaving aside the legalese and nuances of the Bill Ms. Swaraj narrated how she had heard stories of great song-writers from the sixties and seventies dying in penury and how leading lights of the creative community such as Javed Akhtar & Vishal Bharadwaj had urged her to support the rights of the creative community in the Bill. While I’m sure that I’m losing some of her speech in translation, I think her most emphatic statement was when she stated that a society was judged by how it treated its artists and musicians and how Indian composers and song-writers have suffered great injustice and that the only way to offer some redemption in these circumstances was to ensure passage of the Bill. Her speech can be viewed on Youtube over here.
Ms. Swaraj’s speech was followed by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, an author of some repute himself who in his free time also authors some rather brilliant tweets such as the one where he had to fly cattle class in deference to ‘our holy cows’.
Other speakers included Sharad Yadav, Mr. Shailendra Kumar, Mr. Anup Kumar Saha.
|Minister Sibal. Image from here.|
Mr. Saha who is a CPI(M) MP from West Bengal informed the House that the Minister had very ‘cleverly’ dropped the parallel imports clause to protect the interests of publishers and demanded that parallel imports be allowed.
The amendments will now have to be officially notified into law by the Government of India after which the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012 will have the force of law.
While I am almost certain that these amendments will be challenged in Courts by the next month on the grounds of constitutionality, I would think that tonight should be a night of celebration for all those who have toiled hard to ensure the smooth passage of the Bill.