The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023: A Brief Overview


On July 31, 2023, the Parliament of India, gave green light to the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 (the “Bill“) to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (the “Act“) and the Bill received the President’s assent on August 4, 2023. The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023 (the “Amendment Act“) has been passed after numerous versions and revisions of the draft bill, bringing long sought respite to film producers in the country. The primary objective to amend the Act is to tackle the long-standing issue of film piracy. Additionally, certain other provisions relating to age ratings for movies, perpetual film certifications, and the revisional powers of the central government have been introduced by way of the Amendment Act. This Article seeks to highlight some of the important provisions of the Amendment Act.

Addressing Piracy

Piracy in the film industry has existed for as long as production of movies and movie theatres. While jurisdictions like the US and Japan possess low tolerance for piracy, India was yet to implement a stringent regulation, curbing this shortcoming. The Amendment Act has finally come into the picture, reinforcing one of the most fundamental legal principles of protection of ‘original work’. The Amendment Act has introduced Sections 6AA and 6AB in the Act to prohibit unauthorised recording.

Section 6AA of the Act states that “no person shall use any audio-visual recording device in a place licensed to exhibit film with the intention of making or transmitting or attempting to make or transmit or abetting the making or transmission of an infringing copy of such film or a part thereof.” Audio-visual recording device means a digital or analogue photographic or video camera, or any other technology or device capable of enabling the recording or transmission of a copyrighted cinematographic film or any part thereof, regardless of whether audio-visual recording is the sole or primary purpose of the device.

Section 6AB of the Act provides that “no person shall use or abet the use of an infringing copy of any film to exhibit to the public for profit – (i) at a place of exhibition which has not been licensed under the Act or the rules thereunder; or (ii) in a manner that amounts to the infringement of copyright under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 or any other law for the time being in force.”

The Amendment Act has also introduced a separate provision for breach of Sections 6AA and 6BB of the Act. If any person contravenes the aforementioned sections, he shall be punishable with an imprisonment for a minimum term of 3 (three) months, which may extend to 3 (three) years, in addition to a minimum fine of Rs. 3,00,000 (Rupees three lakh), which may extend to 5% (five percent) of the audited gross production cost. Th Amendment Act also provides for extensive relief for the aggrieved party in a movie piracy case allowing the aggrieved person to take appropriate actions under the relevant statutes like the Information Technology Act, 2000 or the Copyright Act, 1957.

Additional Film Certifications

The Amendment Act has established 3 (three) new age-related categories for UA certified films. These additional categories are:

  • UA 7+;
  • UA 13+; and
  • UA 16+.

The aforementioned amendment is based on the understanding that even underage movies have varying levels of appropriateness as per the viewers age. These new UA film categories would logically aid parents to determine what films would be suitable for their children.

Withdrawal of Revisional Powers of the Central Government

Among widespread arguments on the increasing censorship powers of the Government, especially the Central Government, the Amendment Act is positioned on restricting the Government’s scope in interfering with the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) authority. Section 6(1) of the Act had originally granted the Central Government with wide-reaching powers to call for the record of any proceeding in relation to any film which is pending before, or has been decided by the CBFC, and after such inquiry, make such order in relation thereto, as it thinks fit. However, in the case of Union of India v. K.M. Shankarappa1, the Supreme Court of India held Section 6(1) of the Act to be unconstitutional as the provision was contravening the constitution’s basic structure and providing the executive to essentially nullify a judicial or executive decision. The Amendment Act has omitted Section 6(1) from the Act. This is certainly a welcome move, and one which brings extreme relief to film producers who were earlier anticipating the repeal of such revisional powers.

Perpetually Valid Film Certificates

The Amendment Act has also replaced the 10 (ten) year validity of certificates issued by the CBFC for movies, to be valid perpetually. Accordingly, movie producers who earlier had to comply with the certificate renewal norms will now not be burdened with this additional procedural compliance.


The Bill is one of the lesser opposed bills to be passed in the recent past. The Amendment Act has brought long awaited respite to film producers and also the film industry, as a whole. Taking a firm stance against piracy has been the need of the hour, especially in today’s age of increasing movie related licensing. This is certainly a welcome move not only for the producers, but for other investors and stakeholders who would perceive this Amendment Act as a boost to the industry. It also encourages ease of business in the country and would hopefully mark an upward direction for employment in the entertainment industry.

1 (2001) 1 SCC 582.