The Cinematography Amendment Bill 2023


You might have come across the name Cinematography (Amendment) Bill 2023 recently as it has been the topic of discussion for the last few months, if you are a cinema lover and especially Indian cinema. The present bill is a proposal which will repeal the obsolete Cinematograph Act of 1952 that was established to regulate how the films are censored and then released in India. The proposed bill pretends to come up with some solutions to the many modern problems in the film industry, such as the piracy problem, which bothers not only the filmmakers but also causes the loss of revenues and livelihoods. However, is this bill a very good piece to build the Indian film industry on? Is it a wake-up call for the dominating forces to reexamine their devotion to the values of the creative freedom and judicial independence, which are the core of a refined cinema, or is it a destructive element?[1]

Several leaders, many lawyers and also activists have expressed their objection to the said bill, reiterating that the bill gives more powers to the Central government to disturb the process of film certification. The act permits the government to re-check the certifications that have been already given by the CBFC and can then revoke any clearance given in the future. This body is supposed to be an independent one which decides what film is suitable for the public viewing. This implies that the government can ban or censor any movie that they like, including those that have been already passed by the CBFC. This may have a killing effect on the creativity and also innovation of directors as they may be afraid to voice their opinions or to offer the new styles of narration.[2]

The act also subverts the role of the judiciary that is to serve as a great counter-check and balancer of the executive branch. The bill provides for the government to take over the powers of the courts which have the ability to overtop the CBFC’s certificate.

The government thinks that this new law is a proper tool to cope with the new challenges that the digital age brought, including the movie piracy issue. Piracy of movies is when people make unauthorized copies and disseminate movies either online or offline, not getting permission from their proprietors. This causes so much destruction as it lowers the income and discouragement by the movie makers. The government suggests implementation of tougher punishment for film piracy, and also the power of the CBFC (the board that decides what movies are acceptable for the public screenings) to review the certification of those films that have already been cleared for screening. The government claims that this practice ensures that movies are possibly a little bit more adjusted to the requirements of decency and morality and also to the changing norms of national security because nowadays, movies can reach enormous number of audience and the diversity is enormous. But is it really a right thing to do? Some consider this idea a bad one, because in such way the authorities have the right to decide which movie gets the certification and which does not. They argue that is could result in chilling effect and creative freedom suppression, because the government might prohibit or edit a movie that they don’t like. They think it transgresses the independence of the CBFC and the judiciary which are supposed to be balance factors on a government’s power.[3]

Key provisions

The Cinematography Amendment Bill 2023 is, almost in fact, a completely different Act from the old Cinematograph Act 1952. It is the implementation of the new methods which should deal with those problems of today’s film market that we have seen, for example, digital piracy, and diverse audience preferences. It will be extremely hard for a person to infringe copyright law and steal or reproduce movies without any permission, which is good for the producers. Moreover, it gives more control on ratings of the movies to the Central government as well as a new type of ratings for audience have been introduced. To make the present cinema more appropriate with the present time and culture is to do this.

The premise of the Amendment Bill is the zero-tolerance measures against film piracy which engage in illegal recording and reproduction of films. It is a cross-border piracy initiative based on the copyright laws of countries like the US and the UK, where the supply of technological tools, services, or devices intended to circumvent or infringe intellectual property rights are effectively prohibited.[4] The act also suggests refining the existing U/A category, which permits all, with parental guidance, to watch the film, into age allowed groups which are more specific. This is cohesive to cinema rating systems in many countries which identify whether a film is appropriate for different age groups by a given rating. In those countries which have volunteers systems like in the US which is managed by the MPA, there are different categories that are based on the age suitability. Similarly, BBFC of UK provides in depth information of the material and guiding about it.

Challenges and opportunities

The Bill seeks to put in place very tough consequences against those who use the movie illegally by filming and also coping. This is a very crucial milestone, though it’s not really easy to perform and enforce considering the fact that piracy is very rampant and very simple to do online. Government may also be entitled to reviewing and changing the certifications that the Central Board of Film Certification assigns to the films. This might make the people very feel concerned about the enhanced censorship and also an interfering factor for a creative freedom. Film-makers and others in the sphere may find it very challenging to make any films at the expense of the rules and also their vision. The new scoring and also rules may bring many difficulties for the film’s producers and also for the distributing companies like the film’s delay or also the growing costs of the compliance with these new conditions.


The Bill aspires to increase the cost of piracy, so that people uphold and pay our respect to the rights of the Indian film industry. Thus, the film industry would manage to get revenues from people who watched its films and also encourage others to invest their money in making new films. The Bill goes further to have a film rating review, and includes more groups by their age. It would thus bring Indian cinema business on a par with the world-wide system. This would make Indian films more appealing to the foreign markets which in turn would open up new doors and the movies will be able to reach out to more audience. If the rules were improved and ratings systems are clear, then filmmakers could be encouraged to give us stronger films that meet the global criteria. This would, therefore, help to inject more creativity into the industry, resulting in the production of films that will have more wide-ranging appeal and attract more viewers within and outside India. At the same time, the strategy including pirates’ fight facilitates the rise of legal digital platforms. It means that if they are allowed to show the films by such official bodies, then these channels will be able to give the customers more options and contribute to the enhancement of the industry.


It is a fact that the backing of the Bill manifests in the form of the strengthening of the intellectual property rights of the film industry. The Bill punishes those who pirate and copy the films very severely especially those who do so illegally in order to prevent the piracy from occurring. This is also considered as one of the major reasons why many filmmakers and also the distributors are also willing to invest a lot of resources in the film making. The growing popularity of the digital platforms has made the content piracy a much harder problem to solve, therefore, these laws are on the good time and in the modern context.[5]

There are concerns by the opponents of the bill that the part letting the Central Government change the ratings the Central Board of Film Certification gives to films may result in censorship. They arguably believe that this might open the floodgates of censorship that would stifle the creativity and artistic tendencies of the film industry. The World Economic Forum on this matter stated that this could make content even more biased based on personal opinions, not clear norms. Additionally, their interest is more nuanced as they are troubled not only with a new rule, but also with freedom of expression. The film industry as you know is a well-known culture of many unusual and even daring stories. A film industry needs to have the freedom to tell different types of stories and ideas. The critics are afraid that the enactment of more rules and the possible government control will interfere with film production and filmmakers may censor themselves or leave sensitive topics by creating the similar content resulting in the industry originality and creativity loss.[6]


In conclusion, the Cinematography (Amendment) Bill 2023 proposes significant changes to the film industry in India, aiming to address issues such as piracy and audience preferences. While the bill seeks to combat piracy and modernize film ratings, concerns have been raised regarding potential censorship and threats to creative freedom within the industry. The bill’s impact on intellectual property rights and the balance between regulation and artistic expression remains a key point of contention among stakeholders.

Author: Priyanshu Raj, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to or at  Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

[1] Why Government must take back the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021


[2] Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021: From Disguised Censorship to Threatening Freedom of Creativity- Team AMLEGALS

[3] The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023: A Brief Overview- Ashima Obhan

[4] The Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2023: An In-depth Analysis-Tanishka Jindal

[5] Adapting the Intellectual Property System to New Technologies- JOHN H. BARTON

[6] Censorship and Freedom of Expression in the Age of Facebook- Benjamin F. Jackson

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