Censorship Issues – Censor Board, Banning films, etc

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 passed in Rajya Sabha: What new provisions say on piracy, certifying movies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill

Mains level: Film piracy issues, Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and its significance

What’s the news

  • The Rajya Sabha on July 27 passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, that introduces stringent anti-piracy provisions, expanding the scope of the law from censorship to also cover copyright.

Central idea

  • The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952, which authorises the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to require cuts in films and clear them for exhibition in cinemas and on television. It also empowers the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to give separate certificates for a film’s exhibition on television or other media.

What is meant by film piracy?

  • Film piracy refers to the unauthorized copying, distribution, exhibition, or downloading of films without the consent of the copyright owner or the film’s creators. It involves the illegal duplication and dissemination of copyrighted movies through various means.
  • Film piracy is a significant concern for the film industry, as it undermines the economic viability of films and negatively impacts the revenue generated from legitimate sources.

What is the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)?

  • The CBFC, commonly known as the Censor Board, is a statutory body in India responsible for certifying films for public exhibition.
  • It operates under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • The CBFC’s primary role is to review and rate films based on their content and to ensure that films adhere to the guidelines and principles laid down in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and the rules framed thereunder.

Key provisions of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • Crackdown on Film Piracy: The bill aims to address the issue of film piracy by imposing strict penalties on those involved in making pirated copies of movies. It prescribes a three-year jail term and a fine of up to 5% of a movie’s production cost for offenders.
  • Introduction of New Certifications: The bill proposes three new certifications under the ‘UA’ (Parental Guidance) category: UA 7+, UA 13+, and UA 16+. These certifications indicate that children younger than the specified age limits can watch such movies with parental guidance.
  • Empowerment of the CBFC: The bill grants enhanced powers to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to issue separate certificates for films to be exhibited on television or other media platforms. It also clarifies that the CBFC certificates will be valid perpetually and that the Centre will not have any revisional powers over them.
  • Harmonization with Existing Laws: The bill aims to harmonize the Cinematograph Act, 1952 with other laws that tangentially address piracy, such as the Copyright Act, 1957, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The journey of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill

  • Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019: The first version of the bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2019. It was primarily focused on addressing film piracy. The bill aimed to introduce measures to tackle the unauthorized recording and exhibition of films, which had been causing significant financial losses to the film industry.
  • Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021: In response to the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Information Technology and the feedback received from stakeholders and the public, a revised version of the bill was released.
  • Public Feedback and Consultations: The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was made available for public comments and feedback. This step allowed individuals and organizations to provide their views on the proposed amendments, ensuring a more inclusive and participatory legislative process.
  • Industry Stakeholder Consultations: In 2022, consultations were held with industry stakeholders, including representatives from the film industry and related sectors. The input and concerns raised during these consultations were taken into account to further refine and finalize the provisions of the bill.
  • Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023: Based on the inputs gathered from public feedback and industry stakeholders, the final version of the bill, now known as the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was prepared. This version included all the proposed changes and updates aimed at addressing film piracy, enhancing film certification, and aligning the Cinematograph Act with other relevant laws.

Significance of the Bill

  • Curbing Film Piracy: The bill introduces stringent penalties to deter film piracy, addressing a significant concern for the film industry and protecting intellectual property rights.
  • Age-Appropriate Film Viewing: The introduction of new age-based certifications ensures that films are categorized appropriately, allowing parents to make informed decisions about their children’s film choices.
  • Modernizing Film Certification: The bill empowers the CBFC to issue separate certificates for films shown on various media platforms and provides perpetual validity to CBFC certificates, streamlining the film certification process.
  • Aligning with Existing Laws: The amendment harmonizes the Cinematograph Act, 1952, with other relevant laws, ensuring consistency and coherence in the legal framework governing the film industry.
  • Addressing Industry Demands: The bill responds to the film industry’s demand to combat unauthorized film exhibition and recording, protecting the industry’s interests and fostering a thriving creative environment.
  • Strengthening the Film Industry: By curbing piracy and protecting intellectual property, the bill aims to strengthen the film industry, attract investments, and contribute to India’s cultural and economic landscape.


  • The passage of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, is a significant step towards protecting the film industry from piracy and streamlining the film certification process. By embracing the necessary amendments, India reaffirms its commitment to nurturing a vibrant and thriving film industry while safeguarding creative content from piracy-related challenges.

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