Karnataka HC issues notice in petition calling for Netflix, Amazon to be brought under Cinematograph Act

Karnataka HC issues notice in petition calling for Netflix, Amazon to be brought under Cinematograph Act

Aditya AK

The Karnataka High Court this week issued notice in a petition seeking regulation of content on online streaming services including Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video.

The petition filed by Padmanabh Shankar states that there is a lack of legislative framework regulating the broadcast of films, serials etc on the internet through these sites. The multimedia content broadcast through these sites often depict vulgarity, it is stated.

Reference is made to the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and Rules, which regulate content in movies and television programs.

It is contended that the Cinematograph Act should apply for transmission or broadcasting of films, cinema, serials and other multimedia content via the internet.

It is also pointed out that Netflix, Amazon etc either have a policy document or an agreement with the content generators by which they decide which content is broadcast. Given this fact, they cannot claim any protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, which affords protection to intermediaries.

Therefore, a direction that watching films, serials etc. through the internet would amount to public exhibition under the Cinematograph Act is sought for.

It is further prayed that the Court direct the Centre to pass suitable legislation to set up a board to sanction films, serials etc. transmitted through the internet. This board should be empowered to direct respondents to carry out modifications, the petition contends.

Until such legislation is made, the petitioner has sought a direction to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to certify multimedia content broadcast via the internet. It has been prayed that the respondents may broadcast content online only after obtaining a certificate issued by the CBFC.

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar on Tuesday issued notice to the respondents.

The petitioner was represented by Advocate Ajesh Kumar Shankar. Advocate KS Acharya appeared for the Centre.

Last year, the Delhi High Court had sought the  Centre’s reply in a petition seeking formulation of guidelines for regulation of content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.

Read the petition:

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