IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (AUGUST 26- SEPTEMBER 1)

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DELHI HIGH COURT PAVES WAY FOR RELEASE OF THE FILM “KAUM DE HEERE”.

The film “Kaum De Heere” is a Punjabi language feature film based on events that followed the storming of the golden temple and the assassination of the Indira Gandhi in 1984. The Film features actors playing the characters of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, who were involved in the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) permitted screening of the movie with ‘A’ Certificate after recommending certain cuts in the said film. The movie was scheduled to release in August, 2014.

In August 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stating that input had been received that certain organizations in Punjab had opposed the screening of the film and had vowed to organize protests and demonstrations outside cinema halls in case of its release.

After a special screening of the Film arranged for the Ministry of Home Affairs, it was opined that the Film was likely to cause a serious law and order situation by arousing sentiments of the people and further cause disaffection amongst the armed forces. It was also observed that the contents of the film appeared to be contrary to certain observations made by the Supreme Court in its decision in the matter of Kehar Singh and Ors vs State (Delhi Admn.).  On re-examination of the movie by the CBFC, the certificate so granted to the movie was withdrawn on the basis that the Film encouraged the idea of taking the law into one’s own hands and put the interest of a community above that of national harmony.

The Producers of the film thereafter filed a petition in Delhi High Court against CBFC’s action.

The counsel representing the producer argued that the film did not violate any guidelines and the withdrawal of certificate was violative of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. It was also argued that CBFC passed the order for withdrawal of certificate at the instance of the Central Government who did not possess the power to issue such directions.

The Counsel representing the CBFC placed reliance on Section 6(2) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 which grants Central Government the power to direct any film granted certification to be uncertified in a part or whole of India.

The Court, after hearing the arguments and perusing the sections relied upon held that the proviso to Section 6(1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, mentioned that no order passed by Central government under Section 6(1) shall prejudicially affect any person to whom certification has been granted without giving an opportunity for representing his views on the matter. The Court relied upon a Supreme Court judgment which held that Section 6(1) was unconstitutional as it was violative of the basic structure of the Constitution and in the present case since there was no notice under Section 6(2) by the Central Government the Court set aside the CBFC withdrawal order and allowed the Petition.

Read order here.

I&B MINISTER PRAKASH JAVADEKAR UNVEILS NEW LOGO OF CBFC, MENTIONS POSSIBLE AMENDMENT IN THE CINEMATOGRAPH ACT TO CURB PIRACY

The Information & Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar on August 31 unveiled the new logo and certificate design of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).Introduction of a QR code in the new certificate design is in sync with the world of digital technology and will bring in greater transparency and provide information to filmmakers in a better way, the minister said.

Javadekar also said that the Union government is going to amend the Cinematograph Act in order to curb piracy. “We earlier tried to protect the rights of artists by changing the Copyright Act, now we are changing the Cinematograph Act so that piracy can be curbed,” he said. He also invited suggestions from the stakeholders about the certification of online content.

PLEA ALLEGING PLAGIARISM FILED IN MADRAS HIGH COURT AGAINST THE TAMIL FILM ‘KAAPPAAN’.

A writer named John Charles has moved the Madras High Court claiming that the script of the Tamil film titled “Kaappaan” starring actors Suriya and Mohanlal is plagiarized from the script titled ‘Saravedi’ written by him. He claims to have copyright of the said script since 2016 and that the story had been shared by him with Mr K.V Anand, the director of the movie.

According to reports, the writer has substantiated his claim of plagiarism by drawing similarities between his script and the story of the movie such as in the writer’s script the hero in an interview with the prime minister would emphasise the need for interlinking of rivers across the country and the same line and similar scenes have been included in the movie.

When the plea was being heard by the Court, the writer showed urgency in the matter by informing the Court that the movie was scheduled to be released in August and hence sought for an interim stay on release of the movie. According to reports, the counsel on behalf of LYCA Productions, the Producer of the said movie, opposed the grant of interim relief by stating that the movie was to release on September 20 and hence there is no urgency in the matter.

After hearing both the Parties and recording the submissions, Court refused to grant an interim relief and directed the Producer of the movie to file a counter affidavit by September 4.

PLEA FILED IN PUNE COURT FOR RESTRAINING THE RELEASE OF MOVIE TITLED “SECTION 375”.

A plea has been filed in the Pune Court by one Mr. Wajed Khan, stating that the scenes in the movie ‘Section 375’ malign the image of the police and advocates and also create a misperception about rape survivors in minds of people and they will not approach the police for assistance in registering a case.

In order to support his claim of creating a wrong perception and maligning the repute of an advocate and police force, Mr. Khan has mentioned in the plea that one of the scenes in the movie show a police officer recording statement of a rape survivor in open in the police station and also answering vulgar questions in the Court.

The plea has sought relief of the Court by seeking a stay on release of the movie. The Court has also issued notices to Akshay Khanna and the producers of the movie. The matter will next be heard on September 9.

The film titled “Section 375” starring Akshay Khanna and Richa Chadda, is based on a rape case which is dealt with in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

CHENNAI CITY CIVIL COURT DISMISSES SUIT FILED AGAINST MAKERS OF THE MOVIE TITLED ‘BIGIL’.

Filmmaker KP Selva had filed a suit seeking an injunction against filming and release of the movie in the City Civil Court  in Chennai accusing Director Atlee for plagiarizing his story to make the movie titled ‘Bigil’ starring actor Vijay. According to reports, Mr.KP Selva, who is a member of the South Indian Film Writers’ Association, claims to have registered the said story with the union and hence alleged director Atlee for plagiarism for the movie Bigil which is based on women’s football.

The Counsel on behalf of the Producer and Director Atlee submitted to the Court that the filmmaker had no basis to file the suit and thus sought to dismiss the suit.

The Court, after hearing both the sides, dismissed the suit and also further denied the permission to file a fresh plea in the Madras High Court and thus the case stands dismissed.

MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SECTOR TO BE ASSESSED BY THE COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is planning to conduct an assessment of the media and broadcasting sector in order to identify competition concerns and resolve the same within the sector. The objective of the study planned to be undertaken by CCI is to ensure that the new practices and technologies in this dynamic sector, which may be affecting competition adversely, are identified quickly and remedial measures are adopted fast.

The assessment of the media and broadcasting sector will seek to assess the regulatory frameworks, ownership patterns and market trends in terms of viewers and advertisers. The Study would also include the effects of rapid technological change on the sector’s competition landscape. The study will cover print, electronic and online media, broadcasting companies, content providers and industry bodies.

COPYRIGHT OFFICE CLARIFIES THAT THE FAIR DEALING PROVISIONS OF COPYRIGHT ACT EXTENDS TO MARRIAGE AND SOCIAL FESTIVITIES ASSOCIATED WITH IT.

The Copyright office vide a clarificatory notice dated 27th August, 2019 clarified that Section 52 (1) (za) dealing with fair dealing provision i.e. acts which do not amount to copyright infringement has interpreted and extended the scope of the Section to include marriage and social events associated with it within the            purview of the  said section.

The Copyright Office has clarified that the fair dealing provision would include such marriage, social ceremonies, religious ceremonies as well as official functions conducted by the Central, State or local governments and authorities.

Thus, any use of sound recording in course of a religious ceremony in connection with a marriage or other social festivities surrounding it shall not amount to infringement of Copyright and hence no license would be required for the same.

ACTOR PRAKASH RAJ GIVES A CHEQUE OF INR 2 CRORE TO ESSEL VISION.

Essel Vision Pvt. Ltd filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against the production companies of a film titled ‘Tadka’ for a breach of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the companies. The actor-director Prakash Raj is one of the defendants in the aforementioned suit.

Mr. Prakash Raj had on earlier instances defied the Court orders in the matter and hence the Court had given a strict warning that in case of further non compliance of orders by him, it would constitute an aggravated contempt of court as he had already been made aware of the action against him. The action against Mr. Prakash Raj referred to non-payment of Rs.5.88 Crore in addition to the applicable taxes.

Mr Prakash Raj presented a cheque of Rs.2 Crore to Essel Vision and the company agreed to give time till February next year to settle the balance amount. The Court made it abundantly clear that the said cheque should not bounce on presentation else it would attract serious consequences of aggravated contempt of court.

The matter was heard on August 30 to ascertain that the cheque given by Mr. Prakash Raj did not bounce.

Read order here

AMAZON CHALLENGES DELHI HIGH COURT JUDGMENT ON DIRECT SELLING COMPANIES IN THE SUPREME COURT.

Delhi High Court, in a judgment held that ecommerce platforms such as Amazon  cannot sell products of direct selling companies such as Amway and Oriflame without their authorisation. According to reports, the said judgment has been challenged by Amazon in the Supreme Court. According to sources, even though such direct selling company products contribute very little to the sale of ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart, the ecommerce platforms are of the view that an order restraining the sale of products of direct selling companies might set a precedent for other categories as well and hence are challenging the same in Supreme Court.

TRAI RELEASES A NEW CONSULTATION PAPER ON PLATFORM SERVICES PROVIDED BY DIRECT TO HOME OPERATORS (DTH), CABLE TV COMPANIES AND DISTRIBUTION PLATFORM OPERATORS (DPOS) IN INDIA.

TRAI wishes to regulate the value-added services provided by the DTH and other cable operators, for which these operators charge extra money along with regular subscription in order to provide customized content to the users. For example Tata Sky Bollywood, Tata Sky Music on Tata Sky, Goodlife and Disney stories on Airtel Digital TV.

The objective behind regulating the content on these platform services is to ensure that the content being offered by any DTH operator on their platform service is not available on the platform service of another DTH operator or any TV channel.

Further, TRAI also wants these services to be sequenced separately from other channels on a DTH operator’s platform. According to the Consultation Paper “non-regulated supply of such services by DPOs is trespassing into the domain of regular TV channels. Therefore, it is essential to distinguish such services as distinct from regular TV broadcasting. At present, it is often noted that these services are interspersed between regular TV channels, in an effort to get them greater traction and viewership.

A PETITION FILED IN THE DELHI HIGH COURT AGAINST CONSULTATION PAPER RELEASED BY TRAI ON BROADCAST AND TARRIF RELATED ISSUES.

Discovery Communications India along with others filed a petition against TRAI seeking to quash the Consultation Paper floated on tariff-related issues for broadcasting and cable services.

According to reports, the Petitioners claim that the consultation paper fails to conform to the tenets of transparency and objectivity by proceeding with a preconceived notion that the channel broadcasters have distorted the broadcaster market and consumer choices through deep discounting and perverse pricing and hence called for suggestions to remedy the same.

Further the Petitioners also claim that the process of consultation papers is flawed and lacks objectivity. They claim that TRAI has a pre-determined approach towards broadcasters which defeats the very purpose of such consultation. Furthermore, it has also been alleged that the consultation paper asks leading questions with conclusive statements making allegations against the Petitioners. The petitioners also claim that consultation paper has an effect of interfering with right of broadcasters with reference to manner in which they would like to offer their product in bouquets and to such an extent, it amounts to direct infringement with the content of the broadcaster.

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