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Aamir Khan quits panel on Copyright Act

Well-known actor Aamir Khan has resigned from a committee set up by the Government to consider amendments to the Copyright Act, upset by media reports about the discussions members of the panel had with Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in Mumbai last Sunday.

The actor e-mailed his resignation yesterday to Mr Sibal just two days after the panel was named, saying he was taking the step because of the public attack on him. He said the media reports had turned attention away from a genuine debate about copyright issues.

Aamir Khan said he felt he had a lot to contribute to the ongoing debate but could not make any meaningful contribution in this atmosphere.

Mr Sibal told reporters that it was sad that details of the discussion in the committee had been leaked to the media. He said he respected Aamir Khan's reaction and said that any other person in his place would also have reacted in the same way.

He said the work of the committee would go on, and some other person would soon be appointed to take the actor's place.

A Mumbai newspaper reported today that Aamir Khan had, taking the side of film producers, said at the meeting that lyricists did not really contribute much to the impact of the song. He suggested that a song became a hit because it was picturised on a big star.

Javed Akhtar took exception to this, and an argument between the two soon followed. According to the report, Javed said at one stage that the so-called contribution of the actors was nothing but interference.

Apart from Aamir Khan and Javed Akhtar, the other members of the committee are lyricist Prasoon Joshi, music directors Vishal Dadlani and Ram Sampat, script writers Anjum Rajabali and Saket Choudhury and music companies T-Series and Sa Re Ga Ma.

Mr Sibal told last Sunday's meeting that the prevailing situation in the film industry did not do justice to creative people like lyricists and music composers. He said the proposed amendments in the Copyright Act, 1957 would ensure that authors (lyricists and music composers) would not be able to assign intellectual rights to the film producer.

He said this would also entitle lyricists and music composers to a part of the revenue stream from the use of their creations for other purpsoes outside the film.

Mr Sibal said the Government was not interfering in the film business but just ensuring that copyright remained with the creator.

He said the Goverment wanted the Indian film industry to be the best in the world and thus wanted to increase the creative element and incentivise creativity. He said the changes in the Act would be in accordance with the TRIPS Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights.

He said the Copyright (Amendment) Bill would be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament, after which it would be referred to a Standing Committee of Parliament, which would hold public hearings and make suggestions. He said this Ministry would examine the suggestions and take the Bill to the Cabinet before finally intoducing it in Parliament.

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