IPRMENTLAW HIGHLIGHTS (JANUARY 1-12)

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BOMBAY HC CLEARS WAY FOR JANUARY 10 RELEASE OF DEEPIKA PADUKONE STARRER ‘CHHAPAAK’

The Bombay High Court allowed the release of Deepika Padukone starrer movie ‘Chhapaak’ but kept all contentions of alleged copyright infringement open and to be heard after the release.

Rakesh Bharti had sought perpetual injunction, claiming that he had conceived the idea for a movie, tentatively titled Black Day, which he got registered with the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association in February 2015.

Meghna Gulzar, however opposed the plea, contending that copyright cannot be claimed on true life events and had sought the dismissal of the interim application.

Single Judge Bench of Justice SC Gupte while hearing copyright infringement plea filed by, Rakesh Bharti said that no one can claim copyright on a story inspired from true events or incidents.

Justice Gupte observed-

Prima facie, it is impossible to grant ad-interim injunction on the facts presented. If your story is equally inspired from theirs which you have derived from common source, in that case you cannot say it is a Copyright infringement.”

DELHI HIGH COURT DIRECTS “TANHAJI” MAKERS TO PUT DISCLAIMER THAT ‘MARATHA’ IS GENERAL TERM

Delhi High Court disposed of a plea filed by Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Koli Rajput Sangh Delhi against the film ‘Tanjaji’. The court partly considered the prayer of the petitioner and directed that a disclaimer be put in English and Hindi that the word ‘Maratha’ used in the film was a general term referring to all the soldiers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and not used to refer to any community.

According to the petitioner, the filmmaker has shown Tanhaji as a Maratha warrior but he was a Koli-Maratha warrior and “therefore the filmmakers are concealing true lineage of the great warrior Tanhaji Malusare.” The petitioners therefore requested the court to issue a direction to the Central Board of Film Certification and director of the film Om Raut to show the true lineage of Tanhaji. 

‘CHHAPAAK’ CREDITS ROW: DELHI HC DIRECTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BE GIVEN TO LAWYER APARNA BHAT FOR HER CONTRIBUTIONS

Lawyer Aparna Bhat had fought the legal battle for Lakshmi Sharma (the acid attack survivor on whose life the movie ‘Chhapaak’ is based on,  in the criminal case with respect to the acid attack. She had also filed a PIL on behalf of Lakshmi in the Supreme Court, in which the Court passed a slew of directions to curb acid attacks. On realizing that no acknowledgement was given to Aparna Bhat in the film, she moved the Patiala House court against Meghna Gulzar and others. According to the plaintiff, Meghna Gulzar had consulted Adv Aparna Bhat for the preparation of the script. Bhat states that she had given access to various documents related to the case of Lakshmi Agrawal, which helped in the making of the film. Also, multiple drafts of the script were vetted by Bhat on request of Meghna Gulzar. Further, there was an understanding that the movie would acknowledge Adv Aparna Bhat as the lawyer of Lakshmi.

In the suit filed by Adv Bhat against Meghna Gulzar, the director of the movie, Additional Senior Civil Judge Pankaj Sharma passed an interim order saying “the facts suggest that the plea of the plaintiff for an interim injunction is well founded and it is necessary that her contribution shall be acknowledged”

The court directed in an order that Aparna Bhat’s contribution shall be acknowledged by stating in the credits that ‘Aparna Bhat continues to fight against cases of sexual and physical violence against women’ during the screening of the film.

Fox Star Studios, the distributor of the film moved the Delhi High Court against the Patiala house court order by way of a writ petition. Justice Pratibha Singh vide her judgement dated 11th January, 2020 directed the makers of the movie Chhapaak to give credits to Aparna Bhat. While noting that Bhat has made substantial contribution to the script and was promised an acknowledgment for the same, Justice Prathiba M Singh has directed for the following line to be added in the opening credits of the film: “Inputs by Ms. Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal are acknowledged.”

Even though the court agreed that there was no explicit contract of service between the two parties, the doctrine of promissory estoppel was accepted as being applicable to the facts of the present case. It was noted: ‘The letters, e-mails and WhatsApp messages show that an expectation was created in the Plaintiff’s mind that her inputs and contribution in the making of the film would be adequately acknowledged’. Despite the absence of an explicit contract, the court opined that Bhat is entitled for acknowledgment in the film by saying that: ‘In the absence of a contract and payment of consideration, her efforts, skill and labour cannot vest with the producer completely gratuitously. She at least has a right to be recognized and acknowledged, to which the Producer/Director had willingly agreed since the beginning of the project’.

On the issue of mandatory injunction, the court observed the position of law which states that mandatory injunction can be granted to restore the status quo ante and to remedy a situation at once. The standard required for a mandatory injunction is higher than that of a prohibitory injunction, and the same is granted when the injury cannot be compensated in money.

However, it was also noted that the text of the acknowledgement, which has been directed by the Trial Court is extremely broad, and in fact may not be appropriate considering that the Plaintiff is a practicing lawyer.

The court further gave the following directions to the makers of the film: a. The Defendants are restrained from releasing the film ‘CHHAPAAK’ on any electronic medium/s such as cable television, home viewing, DTH platforms, internet entertainment or streaming services, etc., without acknowledging the name of the Plaintiff, in the opening credits of the film b. Insofar as the further theatrical exhibition is concerned, since the film has already been released on 10th January 2020 both internationally and in India, in order to ensure that there is no disruption in the screening, it is directed that the film shall not be exhibited in theatres with effect from 15th January 2020 without the above credit being added to the digital copies of the film’s opening credit slides. c. Since this Court has modified the order passed by the trial court, the contempt application stated to have been led by the Plaintiff, shall not be pressed.

KERALA HIGH COURT RULES THAT AUTHOR’S MORAL RIGHT SURVIVES EVEN AFTER ASSIGNMENT OF HIS COPYRIGHT

Author Sanjeev Pillai approached the Kerala High Court seeking injunction on the film ‘Mamankam’ without providing him adequate authorship credits as per industry standards, pending determination of the suit. Read order here.

Sanjeev Pillai had prepared the script of the present film and has also served as the director for some part of the production process. The question before the Kerala High Court was regarding the special rights of the author under Section 57 of the Copyright Act after assignment of all rights by Sanjeev Pillai in favour of the producer. Sanjeev Pillai claimed that after he was terminated from serving as the director of the film, the shooting was completed “mutilating, distorting and modifying” the script prepared by him. Further, he complained that someone else’s name was being displayed as scriptwriter.

The court did not stay the release of the film keeping in mind the massive investments made, but ruled that it is prima facie made clear that the appellant is the author of the script of the film Mamankam and his right for the protection of his creation is protected under the Copyright Act, and that Section 57 gives the author the right for protection of his creation even after assignment of copyright. Further, the court ordered that no person’s name should be displayed as script writer or screenplay writer until disposal of the suit.

COMPLAINT AGAINST AKSHAY KUMAR FOR ‘HURTING MARATHA SENTIMENTS’ WITH NEW AD

The new ad in which Akshay Kumar portrays a Maratha warrior who returns to his kingdom after defeating enemies has landed him in legal trouble.

In the ad a soldier’s wife taunts the army for their dirty clothes, to which he responds that if his army can win battles, it can also wash clothes and then starts dancing while washing clothes.

The commercial has not gone down well with a section of people and a police complaint has been filed at Worli police station in Mumbai against him for mocking the Marathi culture and hurting the sentiments.

MADRAS HC RESTRAINS RELEASE OF RAJINIKANTH-STARRER ‘DARBAR’ IN MALAYSIA AFTER PRODUCER FAILED TO PAY RS 23CR TO DISTRIBUTOR

Justice G Jeyachandran, in the Madras High Court, passed the order allowing the release of ‘Darbar’ worldwide, excluding Malaysia due to the financial dispute between Malaysia-based DMY Creations SDN BHD and Darbar’s producer Lyca Production

The judge laid down the condition that the film could be released in Malaysia if the producer furnished a bank guarantee equal to the dues in the name of the Registrar General of the court or deposit the amount into the credit of the suit.

On 3rd January the judge had reserved orders on the suit after hearing arguments.

Lyca Productions Private Limited had submitted that the claims by DMY Creations that Lyca owed them Rs 23.70 crore for the distribution of various Tamil films, like 2.0, Kaala, and Vada Chennai in Malaysia, in the past, were false and baseless and were only made to harass them.

Moreover, Lyca filed a counter suit claiming that DMY Creations have filed the suit as they are aggrieved that they weren’t given distribution rights of Kaappaan and Darbar. And Lyca also claimed that DMY owes them a sum of Rs 1.59 crore for distributing their films 2.0, Vada Chennai, Maari and  Vantha Rajavathan Varuven.

DMY claimed that Lyca promised to clear the ‘dues’ of Rs 23.70 crore before the release Darbar, and also to give first preference to them for the film but Lyca hadn’t acted in accordance to this promise. And hence, DMY demanded the attachment of the positive and negatives of the movie Darbar, and all other materials which aided transmission of the film pending disposal of the suit.

TELEVISION BROADCASTERS TO MOVE COURT AGAINST TRAI

Indian television broadcasters are set to take TRAI to court through IBF over frequent changes and using incorrect methodology in its amended tariff order. The Broadcasters may also file their own petitions in various high courts, seeking a stay on the amendments.

TRAI issued the amendments to its tariff order – which is to take effect on March 1. It limited the discounting on TV channels bouquets to 33%, while also reducing the MRP of channels in those bouquets to Rs 12 from Rs 19. TRAI’s contention is that the a la carte prices are illusory because of the bouquet discounts. Broadcasters have alleged that this contention has no sound basis.

Further, as per reports, the broadcasters have stated that TRAI has compared MRPs in the new regulatory regime with wholesale rates declared by broadcasters in the pre-digitisation era, which doesn’t take into account the sharp rise in costs, especially for content. Furthermore, frequent changes have created regulatory uncertainty among stakeholders.

The changes have unified the top four broadcasters (Star-Disney India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Sony Pictures Networks India and Viacom18) against the regulator.

In the past 15 years of regulating the broadcast sector, Trai has issued more than 36 tariff orders and ancillary regulations. All of them have been challenged by one stakeholder or the other and set aside by various judicial forums.

‘DARBAR’ PRODUCERS APPROACH POLICE OVER PIRACY

Lyca Productions has lodged a complaint with the police, seeking action against those engaging in piracy of the movie ‘Darbar’. In a complaint submitted to the Commissioner of Police, Cyber Cell, Chennai City, Lyca Productions stated that the movie Darbar was produced by investing a huge sum of money but that there is a campaign to make the producers incur losses. Stating that this is a huge blow to the producers and distributors who were involved in the production of the movie, Lyca Productions asked the police to take strict action against those who were sharing the movie illegally.

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