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Screenwriters should have right towards royalties of their work, urges Amit Behl of CINTAA


The discussion on the welfare of screenwriters took place at the ongoing LIFFT India Filmotsav in Lonavala. 

Amit Behl, Anamika Jha, Ravi Rai and Riju Bajaj

Keyur Seta

During the ongoing LIFFT India Filmotsav in Lonavala, a discussion concerning the rights and welfare of screenwriters took place between actor Amit Behl, who represented the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) as its senior joint secretary, writer-director Ravi Rai, and lawyer Anamika Jha. 

One of the biggest issues raised was regarding the writers having no rights towards the royalty of their own creations. “We are constantly given this contract which says that this is your one-time fee and they waive off all your royalty for the future," Rai said

Behl pointed out that this is not the case in foreign countries. “In America or other developed countries, as long as the product is on the shelf, you will have a share of the pie. That is something we need to implement here,” he said. 

Behl also added that in USA, the media and entertainment industry is the second largest industry. “Which means it’s a recognized industry. They have the American Copyright Society which is a government body. All freelancers working in the industry have somebody called the copyright officer,” he said. 

He urged the need for something similar in India. “Screen Writers’ Association, CINTAA and trade unions should actually have a copyright officer on payroll sitting and co-ordinating with the copyright society in Delhi, who in turn collaborates with all the broadcasters, studios and producers, so residuals and copyright can be easily shared on a fair basis,” said Behl. 

A group of famous actors, actresses and filmmakers from mainstream Hindi cinema met India’s prime minister Narenda Modi twice this year. Behl criticized them for not taking up the issue of officially recognizing the film industry as a proper industry for the welfare of the writers. 

“Why are we not recognized as an industry? Because when the major stakeholders go to the government they talk about GST exemption. I mean, come on. They talk on single-window clearance for shooting. Are you talking about the pride of the creators? How is a writer going to churn out good stories if he or she is looking at tomorrow’s EMI [Equated monthly installments]?” Behl expressed. 

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