IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (JULY 22-28)

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DELHI HC ASKS T-SERIES TO SHOW MOVIE ‘KHANDAANI SHAFAKHANA’ TO SEXOLOGIST

The Delhi High Court vide order dated July 23, 2019 asked Super Cassettes Industries Pvt Ltd, which does business under the label T-Series, to hold a special screening of its movie ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’ for a Delhi based sexologist Vijay Abbott who has alleged that the film defames him and his profession.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked Super Cassettes to show the film to the sexologist on July 26 so that his apprehensions regarding damage to his reputation can be addressed. While issuing the direction, the court noted

“Though I am prima facie not satisfied about the rights claimed by the plaintiff but the only concern is, whether the film with the impugned title causes any damage to the reputation of the plaintiff. Part watching of the trailer of the film, though does not indicate so.”

The court was also of the prima facie view that there has been no infringement of any trademark as claimed by Abbot. It noted that the registration of the trademark ‘Khandani shafakhana’ had lapsed in 2010 and it was not in being since 2001.

The counsel appearing for the defendants raised apprehension that though they were willing to show the film to the plaintiff, they apprehended that the plaintiff and his counsels after watching the film and before release thereof may make statements to the public, media or otherwise, about the film. The counsel for the plaintiff agreed that no such statements would be made. The matter is listed on July 29.

CCI  DISMISSES COMPLAINT FILED BY RONNIE SCREWVALA AGAINST PVR, INOX AND OTHERS

The Competition Commission of India(CCI) vide order dated July 24, 2019 has dismissed a complaint alleging anti-competitive practices by multiplex chains, including PVR Ltd and Inox.

Unilazer Ventures Pvt Ltd through its division RSVP (Informant), an independent film content creation company, in a complaint had charged the association and its members of collusion to enforce a revenue share model on producers and distributors and levying a fee beyond the agreed period. Filed against PVR, Inox, Cinepolis, Carnival and FICCI Multiplex Association of India, the complaint went on to address the issues of arbitrary and non-negotiable models of revenue-sharing between producers/distributors and exhibitors, the lack of transparency in their way of conducting business and deliberates extensively upon the disconcerting practice of exhibitors imposing the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) on producers/distributors.

VPF is a fee paid by a film producer/ distributor to the film exhibitor (including single screen theatres and multiplexes) to recoup part of purchase price of digital cinema projection equipment by exhibitors, for use in the presentation/ screening of the film. The fee is paid by producers/ distributors, prior to screening of a movie in a theatre. The Informant has alleged that the VPF model was agreed upon by the producers/ distributors with a sunset period, in a move to reduce the cost of physical prints incurred by the producer/distributors, curb piracy, increase durability of the content, and improve quality of cinema viewing experience. Although, the agreed period is long over, the multiplexes have continued to charge the VPF even after the sunset period.

The CCI, however, dismissed the complaint due to lack of evidence to prove collusion among the multiplex chains, according to the CCI order.

Regarding the VPF, the CCI said the practice originated from Hollywood and was adopted in Indian cinema as well without any formal or written agreement. “Since there is no written agreement, as a corollary, the question of formal arrangement of ‘sunset-clause’ does not exist”.

While as far as the anti-competitive collusion is concerned, CCI said, “no indication of any such agreement or arrangement or understanding between the OPs (five entities) has been placed on record.”

The fair trade regulator noted that there is no evidence to indicate that four multiplexes met under the aegis of FICCI Mutliplex Association or used its platform to arrive at a common VPF to be charged from producers.

Pertaining to revenue sharing agreements, CCI said, “The Commission observes that the revenue sharing arrangement was put in place with the consent and due deliberations between producers and multiplex owners and the informant (complainant) has not been able to demonstrate that such an arrangement is pursuant to any anti-competitive agreement among opposite parties” (five entities).

Similarly, the regulator dismissed other allegations due to lack of evidence.

Accordingly, “the Commission is of the opinion that there exists no prima facie case warranting investigation into the matter”, CCI said.

TV AND RADIO COMPANIES WANT BROADCAST POLICY TO PROTECT MEDIA FREEDOM

The National Broadcast Policy, that the information and broadcasting ministry is working on should safeguard media freedom, TV and radio companies.

Threats of legal action “with punitive damages under the laws of defamation lead to a chilling effect on the publication of free and independent news and put undue pressure on journalists,” the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) told the ministry in its submission. The policy should ensure a safe environment for journalists and the news media industry.

The IBF  has also asked for the defamation law to be “reworked” to protect news channels. Several journalists’ organisations have previously protested against the continued criminalisation of defamation in India, saying this was a holdover from the colonial era and needed reformation.

Some of the other demands include implementation of transparent and timebound registration, licensing and approval process, a single-window clearance system to reduce timelines, as well as simplification and reduction of regulatory compliances.

The policy will also seek to revamp state-run Prasar Bharati to improve standards besides cracking down on digital piracy and ensuring protection of intellectual property and copyright, a top government official said. It will also deal with sharing of infrastructure across platforms and promoting the indigenous production of consumer hardware to promote Make in India. A review of existing FDI policies to attract investment as well as startups to establish manufacturing facilities has also been proposed by the government.

The government has also been asked to allow a self-regulation code for content production and distribution for video streaming by over the-top (OTT) services. Broadcasters have also sought recognition for industry self-regulatory bodies such as News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA).

ORIGINATORS OF WHATSAPP MESSAGE CAN BE TRACED, IIT EXPERT

WhatsApp deploys end-to-end encryption technique to protect the contents of the messages shared on its platform. The encryption technique used by the Facebook-owned social messaging platform is so strong that even WhatsApp cannot determine the contents of a conversation on its platform. Indian government, on the other hand, has time and again requested the company to create a backdoor that would help in tracing the origins of messages with problematic content. But up until now, WhatsApp has argued that doing so would require the company to redesign its entire platform. But now, a professor from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has argued that tracing the origin of a message on WhatsApp might not be as difficult as previously claimed.

Arguing the case on behalf of WhatsApp in response to a public interest litigation that sought a special order by court to use Aadhaar or any other government authorised identity proof mandatory for obtaining a social media account senior advocate Kapil Sibal earlier this week told the Madras High Court that it was impossible to trace the origin of a message as the social messaging app does not have the access to that information.

However, IIT-M professor Dr V Kamakoti countered this argument saying that it was technologically possible to trace the origin of a message by including the phone number of the original sender or the originator of the message when a message is forwarded. The professor argued that the social media app cannot argue that it was focused on privacy as it allowed forwarding messages on its platform and that it the forwarded messages required no consent. “If privacy were an issue, then default should have been no forwards,” the professor argued.

 

Responding to the suggestions made by the IIT-M professor and the PIL, the Internet Freedom Foundation, which was made an intervenor in this case, said that anonymity is particularly important for whistle blowers, activists, journalists and other individuals belonging to marginalised communities. “Anonymity permits dissent and it can enrich public discourse by overcoming hierarchical structures present in the society that silence individuals…,” the organisation wrote in its written response to the court.

KOENA MITRA GETS SIX MONTHS’ JAIL IN CHEQUE-BOUNCING CASE

In a complaint filed by model Poonam Sethi in 2013 against Koena Mitra, as per reports, the Andheri metropolitan magistrate’s court convicted actress Koena Mitra in a cheque-bouncing case and sentenced her to six months’ simple imprisonment a few days back. She was also asked to pay Rs. 4.64 lakh. According to Poonam, Koena Mitra borrowed Rs. 22 lakh from her over a period of time. In repayment of the same, Koena gave Poonam a cheque for Rs. 3 lakh which was dishonoured by the bank. After following the due process, Poonam filed a complaint in the magistrate’s court on 10th October, 2013. In her defence, Koena told the court that Poonam did not have the financial capacity to lend her Rs. 22 lakh, and that she (Poonam) had stolen her (Koena) cheques. The court did not accept any contention of Koena Mitra who is likely to appeal to the higher court.

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