“Rachnatmak Bharat, Abhinav Bharat” (Creative India, Innovative India)- this slogan was the backbone of the National IPR Policy (hereinafter referred to as Policy) that was launched on 12th May, 2016. To realise this objective, the Policy focussed on various facets of intellectual property development, ranging from the commercialisation of IPRs to development of human capital. It was a recognition of the fact that Intellectual Property and the protection of Intellectual Property Rights is an extremely vital part of the economy.

However, the Policy was launched 5 years ago. Given that Intellectual Property is an extremely dynamic field where changes take place overnight due to the co-relationship between IPR and Tech, any IPR Policy needs constant review and monitoring. The changes both tech and non tech that have taken place in the last 5 years must be accounted for, otherwise the very purpose of having a National IPR Policy is defeated. The Policy is meant to serve as a guiding light for Intellectual Property regulation throughout the country. But if the light in the lighthouse itself is old and faint, then the ship is bound to sink or run aground. In fact, even when the Policy was formulated in 2016, emphasis was laid on the need for the Policy to be reviewed every five years to ensure that it remains up-to-date and relevant.

Of course, Covid is a black swan moment that no one saw coming, and it is understandable that perhaps the review of the Policy as promised in 2021 has been delayed due to that. But now, the time is ripe to get back on track and start work on updating the Policy in right earnest.

Keeping the above in mind, after a thorough review of the National IP Plans laid out by democratically elected governments of US, Singapore, Japan, EU and the UK, this blog aims to highlight the globally accepted best practices in the field of IP which can serve as inspiration for the Indian Government when they set out to draft the next iteration of the policy.

The first important challenge that the IPR Policy must address comprehensively is the menace of piracy. Despite numerous attempts, piracy is still rampant today across the core IP sectors such as the creative industry. In fact, in the recorded music industry itself, we have one of highest piracy rates in the world at 68%. While the previous Policy does speak about piracy, the need for an attitude change amongst the people has not been addressed. The main change needed is that people must know that piracy is theft, and that people need to see it as such. If you would think twice before shoplifting from a store or walking away with cutlery from a restaurant, the same hesitation must be felt before indulging in piracy. For instance, the “Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign in the UK is a partnership between rights holders, government and ISPs. It educates consumers about the wide range of legal sources of content available to UK consumers and promotes the value of creative content and the underlying copyright.

Further, the Policy must also push for the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence for the development and analysis of all information related to the enforcement of IP rights. The Centre will then be at the core of all IP enforcement activity. It will lead and coordinate research, public/private taskforces, training, and any pilots or projects to bring the bigger picture on IP enforcement together and enable all parties, including industry, to use their resources effectively.

The current Policy does not have the facilitation and fostering of international engagement amongst its objectives. This is a major gap which needs to be filled. In today’s inter-connected and globalised world, it is imperative to work to expand the market for copyrighted content of Indian origin and further capture overseas demand for the same. For this, it is necessary for all stakeholders to come together , the industry , chamber of commerce , Central and State Govts and the respective Ministries and Departments with the active help of our diplomatic missions across the globe  to support the promotional activities aimed at overseas expansion of Indian content.

These are just a few of the updates that are required in the next IPR Policy. Incorporating these changes will help to increase the heft of Indian intellectual property law related industries globally and will ensure that we are in keeping with the times. It will help to increase the flow of investments into the Indian creative sector, and will also help to generate employment.

It is time to fix the light in the lighthouse, and reach the true potential of “Creative India, Innovative India.”

About Author: Mridula Dalvi- Legal Associate, Indian Music Industry

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