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Parliament Passes Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023: A Landmark Step Towards Combating Film Piracy and Strengthening the Indian Film Industry

By - King Stubb & Kasiva on August 28, 2023


In a significant step aimed at countering film piracy and reinforcing the Indian film sector, the Parliament of India has successfully passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023.[1] This momentous bill signifies a crucial amendment to the Cinematograph Act[2] after a span of four decades, introducing provisions that effectively tackle piracy and foster the growth of the film domain. Headed by the Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, the bill introduces transformative amendments covering various facets of film certification, piracy deterrence, and industry empowerment.

Addressing the Menace of Piracy

The rapid growth of the internet and the widespread use of social media have given rise to a concerning increase in film piracy, casting a looming shadow over the Indian film industry. The financial consequences of this issue have been astounding, with estimates pointing to substantial losses of around Rs 20,000 Crores. In response to this challenge, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023[3], has taken a strong and firm stance.

It aims to address this problem. Activities like unauthorized recording and showcasing of films, including the discreet use of cameras within movie theatres, have now been prohibited by the bill.[4] Moreover, the bill seeks to reinforce its resolution against unauthorized copying and the unlawful distribution of pirated film copies over the Internet.[5]

The consequences for individuals involved in such illegal actions have been significantly strengthened, with rigorous penalties established. Those proven to be engaged in piracy-related violations could face a minimum of 3 months in prison and a fine of Rs. 3 lakhs. The severity of these penalties can escalate to even more stringent measures, including up to 3 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to 5% of the audited gross production cost of the film.[6]

Empowering the Film Industry

Aligned with the visionary aspirations articulated by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, who foresees India as a custodian of its rich cultural heritage and creative content, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, takes calculated steps to strengthen the Indian film industry. The bill recognizes the pivotal role that the film sector plays in projecting India's cultural influence on the global platform, spreading the country's distinctive culture, values, and essence.

Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting highlights the paramount importance of these amendments in facilitating the industry's expansion and safeguarding its interests. He highlights the film industry's potential to make substantial contributions to India's economy, with estimates indicating a remarkable growth trajectory of 100 billion dollars over the ensuing three years.

Through its comprehensive approach, which encompasses strategies for piracy prevention and business enhancement, the bill aims to foster an environment conducive to creative content production while ensuring the protection of the rights and concerns of all stakeholders, including the creative talents and artisans within the industry.

Revolutionizing Film Certification

The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 ushers in a comprehensive revamp of the film certification process, aligning itself with judgments from the Supreme Court and pertinent legislative advancements. The amendments enshrined within the bill highlight several essential areas:

Age-Based Certification: The bill introduces a nuanced and judicious approach by categorizing films based on distinct age groups. This revision necessitates subdividing the existing UA (Universal Adult) classification into three age-based categories: seven years (UA 7+), thirteen years (UA 13+), and sixteen years (UA 16+).[7] Importantly, it is noteworthy that these age-based markers are recommendatory in nature. They are thoughtfully designed to aid parents and guardians in making well-informed decisions concerning the appropriateness of a film for varying age groups.

Supreme Court Alignment: The bill judiciously relinquishes the revisional powers previously vested in the Central Government. In doing so, it effectively aligns itself with the landmark pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the K.M. Shankarappa vs Union of India (2000)[8] case. This emphasizes a commitment to legal precedent and jurisprudential consistency.

Perpetual Validity: A significant amendment pertains to the perpetual validity attributed to certificates granted by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). This revision stands in dissimilarity to the prior limitation, which confined the validity of certificates to a mere ten years. By allowing perpetual validity, the bill aims to eliminate the time-based constraints associated with certification, contributing to administrative efficiency and ease.

Television Broadcast

Notably, the bill introduces a key provision that addresses television broadcast. Specifically, it permits films falling within the ambit of the Unrestricted Public Exhibition category to be telecast on television. However, this permission is contingent upon the films undergoing a process of recertification. This cautious approach highlights the bill's intent to ensure that films retain their appropriateness across different platforms.

Territorial References

The bill proactively brings into line itself with the legislative developments brought about by the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. To this end, it meticulously eliminates any references within its provisions that pertain to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. This alignment with legislative changes serves to maintain coherence and conformity within the legal framework.


The passing of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 marks a crucial step for the Indian film industry. With its resolute stance against film piracy and its efforts to streamline the certification process, the bill paves the way for the industry's expansion and enhanced recognition on the global front.

As India continues its evolution as a prominent hub for creative content, these amendments reflect the firm dedication of the government to foster a flourishing film sector while ensuring the protection of the rights and interests of creators and stakeholders alike. Within the transformative landscape of these legislative reforms, the Indian film industry is positioned to rise to new heights, preserving its rich cultural heritage and magnifying its influence on the global stage.


What is the purpose of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023?

The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, of 2023, aims to update and update the Cinematograph Act of 1952. It primarily addresses issues related to film piracy, certification processes, and the empowerment of the Indian film industry.

How does the Bill address film piracy?

The Bill introduces stringent measures to combat film piracy. It includes penalties such as imprisonment for a minimum of three months and a fine of Rs. 3 lakhs, extendable up to three years imprisonment, and a fine of up to 5% of the film's audited gross production cost for individuals engaged in unauthorized copying, transmission, or online sharing of pirated films.

What changes are introduced regarding film certification?

The Bill introduces age-specific certification categories. The existing UA (Universal Adult) category will be divided into three age groups: UA 7+, UA 13+, and UA 16+. While these age markers are not mandatory, they provide guidance for parents and guardians to make informed decisions about suitable film content for different age groups.


[2] Cinematograph Act, 1952 [Act no 37 of 1952]

[3] Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 [Bill No. XLVI of 2023]

[4] Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 [Bill No. XLVI of 2023] Clause 8 (6AA)


[6] Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 [Bill No. XLVI of 2023] Clause 9(1A)

[7] Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 [Bill No. XLVI of 2023] Clause 4(ii) (i)

[8] K.M. Shankarappa vs Union of India (2001) 1 SCC 582.

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