Film producers withdraw proposed strike

Film producers have withdrawn their January 6 strike against the proposed amendments in the Copyright Act after the Centre assured them that no arbitrary decision would be taken that jeopardise the interests of the Indian film industry.

Addressing a press conference here today, Film and Television Producers Guild of India president Ramesh Sippy, vice-president Mukesh Bhatt and Film Federation of India (FFI) president T P Agarwal said the film production, distribution and exhibition sectors were heartened by the government’s "positive approach" that had paved the way for fair negotiations to take place.

Bhatt and Sippy were invited to Delhi yesterday to meet HRD minister Kapil Sibal, I&B minister Ambika Soni and Ahmed Patel, Political Advisor to the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Agarwal said.

"The meeting was a result of the interaction of a delegation of Film Federation of India representatives from the South with AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi in Chennai last week. He heard the film industry delegation and assured that the government would address their concerns regarding copyright and tax burden on the film sector," he said.

Bhatt said the production, exhibition and distributionsectors of the film industry had decided to withdraw the proposed strike which was called to protest "step-motherly" treatment meted out by the government.

"The token strike call was not a threat but to express the industry’s desperation at the step-motherly treatment meted out by the government."

Agarwal said the producers’ bodies had not imposed a ban on lyricist Javed Akhtar for spearheading the demand of copyright of lyricists and composers.

"We had just advised producers not to hire his services till the issue is resolved. It was up to the producers to take a final decision." Bhatt said the government had asked producers to engage lyricists and composers and bring out a fair and reasonable royalty sharing formula.

Lyricists and composers are already given royalty, but it is impossible to give them music rights, Agarwal said.

"Producers are not against sharing royalty but they cannot make anyone partners in their property," he added.

Agarwal said since Akhtar was a member of Parliament, his voice was being heard more in the government. "But since yesterday’s meeting, we have realised that there is hope for solution to the problem."

Sippy said producers were kept in the dark over the proposed copyright amendments. "Without asking us, the government went ahead with the proposed draft. A fair working is necessary to ensure producers’ interests are safeguarded. We have to co-exist. We do not want to fight with our own people," he said.

The producers will start negotiations with lyricists and composers in the next fortnight to resolve the copyright and royalty issues, he said.

One of the proposed amendments was aimed at securing royalty share for song composers and lyricists.(PTI)


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