Proposed Bill for the Law of Organization of Film Trade and Protection of the Financial Rights and Copyright of Cinematic Works

For the first time since the arrival of the film art and industry in Iran, the Society of the Iranian Film Guilds has drawn up a proper legal structure worthy of the status of the Iranian cinema within the framework of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and submitted it on January 11, 2009 for approval to the President of the Islamic Republic and the head of the cultural commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

The draft of the bill was prepared in a concise form and was revised four times in seven sessions held with the member guilds of the Society of the Iranian Film Guilds as well as influential members of the guilds during 80 days. It is worth mentioning that the draft bill includes two appendices. The first appendix, titled “Iranian Cinema, Existing Reality, Future Prospects”, precedes the bill, while the second appendix, “Proposal for Alteration of the Structural Setup Proposed by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance”, comes at the end of the draft.

Process of Drawing up and Revising the Bill for the Law of Organization of Film Trade and Protection of the Financial Rights and Copyright of Cinematic Works

Mr. Asgarpour

Managing Director

Pursuant to your instructions in the month of November on drawing up a structural setup for the Iranian cinema that would advance it from the current status of lacking a codified law and would give a more effective role to the film guilds in decision making and management of the film industry. The program of action for the preparation of “Bill for the Law of Organization of Film Trade and Protection of the Financial Rights and Copyright of Cinematic Works” began with surveys of laws and regulations of the following organizations:

* Law for the organization of medical service
* Law for the nursing service
* Law for psychiatric and counseling services
* Law for the organization of agricultural engineering and natural resources
* Law for the organization of civil engineering
* Law for services of the attorneys
* Law of the guild systems
* Charter of the computer guilds system
* Law for the protection of copyrights of writers, composers and artists approved in 19 69
* Law for the establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance
* Regulations governing the exhibition of films, slides and videos
* Regulations for the establishment and operation of institutes for the international distribution of films
* Law for the collection of 2% of box office receipts of the country’s cinemas
* Previous and present charters of the House of Cinema
* Regulations for private art training centers
* Objectives and functions of the High Council of Cultural Revolution
* French government’s policies and support systems in the art and cultural fields

The first version of the draft was prepared under the title “Bill of the Law for the Organization of the Film Trade” and was submitted to you on Dec. 19, 2008. At the same time the version was presented to Mr. Seyed Zia Hashemi and Mr. Manuchehr Shahsavari. Mr. Shahsavari explained that a similar attempt was made during the tenure of Mr. Seifollah Daad as Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, but that it had to be shelved because of lack of consensus among filmmakers. He added that not only the Law for the Organization of the Film Trade but the law for copyrights was also a necessity. Mr. Hashemi also studied the version and expressed the opinion that the attempt was a necessity, but expressed doubt regarding its approval under the prevailing circumstances.

So I tried to obtain information on the texts that had been prepared during Mr. Daad’s tenure as deputy minister. In this connection I was greatly assisted by Mrs. Vaferi, in-charge of the secretariat of the board of directors, who provided me with the draft of the “Law for the Production and Distribution of Cinematic Works” prepared during the eighth government cabinet, and the draft of the “Comprehensive Law for the Protection of Copyrights and the Related Rights” prepared during the ninth government cabinet. Consequently, the text of “Law for the Protection of Copyrights and the Related Rights” was added to the beginning of the second version of draft of the bill which was submitted on January 3, 2009.

You sent the draft affixed to a note to Mrs. Fereshteh Taerpour, and Messrs. Manuchehr Mohammadi, Alireza Raisian, Majid Majidi, Hassan Barzideh, Seifollah Daad, Javad Tousi, Ahmad Reza Darvish, Rasoul Sadr Ameli, Seyed Mohammad Beheshti, as well as to the board of directors and inspector of the House of Cinema for their comments. Separately, I sent the draft to Messrs. Mohammad Hassan Pezeshk, Reza Mir Karimi, Jamal Sadatian, Morteza Shayesteh, Gholamreza Mousavi, Seyed Zia Hashemi and Manuchehr Shahsavari. From among the two groups Messrs. Manuchehr Mohammadi, Mohammad Hassan Pezeshk, Alireza Raisian, Mahdi Karampour, Ebrahim Mokhtari, Gholamreza Mousavi and Javad Tousi sent their views in writing within a week.

Then on January 6, 2009 and in keeping with your instructions members of the board of directors and the inspector of the House of Cinema, as well as Mrs. Fereshteh Taerpour and Messrs. Hassan Barzideh, Ahmad Reza Darvish, Gholamreza Mousavi, Alireza Raisian, Mohammad Dadgou were invited to a session of discussion. The opponents of the bill (mainly film producers) were concerned with areas of procedure that were outside the control of the House of Cinema. Mrs. Taerpour was particularly concerned about the relegation of the filmmakers’ affairs to judicial authorities. On the other hand, Mr. Ahmad Reza Darvish and Mr. Mohammad Dadgou emphasized the necessity of breaking out of the prevailing circumstances by providing support for the bill. In the afternoon of the same day you attended a session of the High Council of Producers and expounded the details of the bill to the producers, and on the following day I met Mr. Moallem, the prominent film critic to explain to him the objectives of the bill.

Following that, I had two four-hour sessions with you for a revision of the second version and in view of the concerns expressed by members of the producers guild, ways of alleviating their concerns were discussed and then the third version of the bill was prepared and was submitted on January 17, 2009. Following your subsequent instructions, the final examination of the bill (third version) was entrusted to a group including Messrs Dadgou, Raisian, Mokhtari and myself. The group had four sessions (three of them in your presence), and the fourth version was prepared with changes in the procedures for the selection of members of the Central Council, noting the necessity of a legal inspector in the composition of the organization’s setup, and the authorities of the High Council of Exhibition.

No doubt no single prescription can resolve all of the problems of the Iranian cinema and set it on the path of progress. But any attempt to pass beyond the present state of lawlessness, which has been going on for over a century and during which time film industry has been run in accordance with the personal preferences of government officials, is a prime necessity to achieve a new horizon for the film art which will be studied and evaluated in the future.

And finally I wish to express my gratitude to you for having given me the opportunity for having undertaken such a great task. I also wish to thank Messrs Javad Tousi, Alireza Raisian, Mohammad Mahdi Dadgou, Ebrahim Mokhtari and Manuchehr Shahsavari for their constructive criticism and proposals which were greatly effective in preparing this collection of regulations.

Seyed Mohsen Hashemi
Executive Deputy, the House of Cinema
February 15, 2009