IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (MARCH 9-15)

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CALCUTTA HIGH COURT REFUSES TO STAY RELEASE OF BENGALI FILM “BRAHMA JANEN GOPON KOMMOTI”

In a writ petition filed by Subhadep Adhikari challenging the release of the Bengali film “Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’ on the ground that it hurts the religious sentiments of the Hindus, the Calcutta High Court refused to grant any stay.

The petitioner contended that he being a Hindu, his sentiment has been hurt due to the usage of the expression “Brahma” who is an important part of the Hindu pantheon, with the expression ‘Gopon Kommoti’, which, roughly translated, means ‘secret act’ and  that the significance of the said expression in the Bengali language indicates something prohibited and which is violative of morality.

The Court agreed with the state respondent’s argument that in the event any violation of Section 298 of the Indian Penal Code is proved by the petitioner, there are penal provisions under the statute, which can be resorted to. Injunction is not a sanction which follows the commission of such an offence, if at all.

The Court noted that as taken on face value, the name of the movie in question does not hurt the religious sentiment, merely because an expression has been used, apparently in a hilarious way, with the name of the said Hindu deity.

The Court held that it found no irregularity of any ingredient of offence under Section 298 of the IPC in the nomenclature of the movie in question.

The Court further remarked that such actions ought to be deprecated and imposed a cost of Rs. 1 to be paid by the petitioner to the private respondents.

FIR REGISTERED AGAINST SHARECHAT FOR ALLEGED COPYRIGHT VIOLATION
The Yeshwantpur Police in Bengaluru have filed an FIR against social media platform ShareChat for alleged copyright violation based on a complaint filed by Lahari Recording Company.F

The music label which claims to own audio rights of many movies alleged that Mohalla Tech (company which owns ShareChat) , has allowed its users to download the recording company’s copyrighted content without its consent. This has caused monetary loss to the company

A police team visited the ShareChat office in Koramangala and conducted a mahajar. The police said they have booked the startup under Section 64 of Indian Copyrights Act, 1957 and with Section 201 of Indian Trademarks Act, 1999.

T Series which has a rights sharing deal with Lahari Recording had also filed a copyright infringement suit in Delhi High Court against Sharechat and procured an ex-parte injunction order last year.

Meanwhile, IAMAI has come in support of Sharechat saying that the FIR filed against ShareChat is an overreach of the current provision of the law. The association added that such cases of alleged copyright infringements are usually resolved with a “notice and takedown” mechanism under the IT (Amendment) Act of 2008.

DELHI HC DENIES RELIEF TO PRASAR BHARATI OVER THE FILM TITLED ‘DOORDARSHAN’

Prasar Bharati, India’s largest public broadcasting agency had sued Ritu Arya, Sandeep Arya and PVR Limited, for permanent injunction to restrain them from passing off the trade mark DOORDARSHAN of Prasar Bharti by use of the same as a title of the forthcoming film produced by them and which released on 28th February, 2020.

The Court found Prasar Bharti to have a prima facie case and the balance of convenience in their favour but refrained from passing any ex-parte order restraining the Movie from using the mark DOORDARSHAN as title in view of the film being scheduled to release the next day. The Court noted that the grant of an injunction would result in monetary and business damages to the Defendants.

MADRAS HC GRANTS INTERIM RELIEF TO SINGER ‘MAHANADHI’ SHOBANA IN COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT

In an interim relief to famous Tamil singer ‘Mahanadhi’ Shobana, the Madras High Court has restrained Symphony Recording Company Ltd from distributing, manufacturing or selling her songs.

Justice M S Ramesh noted that since Shobana was a minor when the agreements and assignments were executed, they were unenforceable.

Even otherwise, the assignment rights cannot be exercised beyond the period of five years as per Section 19(5) of the Copyright Act 1957, and hence the rights under the agreements stated to have been executed in 1996 came to an end in 2001, the Court added

In 1996, while she was aged 15 years, the company had prevailed upon her to sign two agreements, assigning her rights in respect of 5 devotional songs and 37 nursery rhymes to it. In 2016, it came to her notice that the defendant had uploaded her songs on their YouTube channel, along with her pictures taken without permission from her Facebook page. It was mentioned in the plaint that the songs have crossed more than 47 million views till October 2019 and made huge profits illegally.

The Court ordered as follows: “When the defendant themselves claim their rights through these two documents, which are prima facie illegal, any further act of the defendant in distributing, manufacturing or selling the songs rendered by the plaintiff, would be impermissible. Since the plaintiff has made out a prima facie case, there shall be an order of interim injunction, pending disposal of the suit”

KERALA HC STAYS TRAI REGULATION ON FREEZING OF PLACEMENT OF CHANNELS

The High Court of Kerala has stayed the amendment brought by TRAI in 2020 regarding the freezing of placement of channel in perpetuity.

The interim order staying the amended provision in Regulation 18(4) of Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Second Amendment) Regulations 2020 was passed by Justice Anu Sivaraman in a writ petition filed by All India Digital Cable Federation and Kerala Communications Cable Ltd. As per the amended provision, the Local Channel Number (LCN) allotted to a channel cannot be changed without the prior permission of TRAI. The said amendment was challenged, inter-alia, on the ground that placement of channel was not within the jurisdiction of TRAI.

Advocate appearing for the petitioner, contended that the TRAI’s power was only with respect to interconnection, and hence the regulations amounted to an unwarranted interference with the right to freedom of trade and business of the channels.

Even if it is admitted for the purpose of this order that TRAI has jurisdiction under Section 36, it is apparent that the proposals with regard to freezing of placement of a channel in perpetuity and permission for change being imposed was not preceded by any specific consultation on the said question”, the order stated.

KERALA HC DISMISSES PIL CHALLENGING CONTENT REGULATION POWERS OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

High Court of Kerala dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition which challenged the constitutional validity of powers of Centre under the of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1994 to impose ban on telecast of TV channels.

The bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly  remarked that it was necessary to have regulatory powers over media in the interests of law and order and national security.

The petitioner stated that these ban orders were “nothing but pressure tactics adopted by the respondent to induce fear  into the media houses of the country to avoid critical view of governance”.

It was highlighted that the ban order against Media One mentioned “being critical against Delhi police and RSS” as one of the reasons.

The petitioner also added that  the fact that these orders were revoked within few hours of their issuance revealed that the officials themselves knew that the orders are not legally sustainable.

RITVIZ SLAMS T-SERIES FOR ALLEGEDLY PLAGIARISING HIS VIRAL SONG ‘UDD GAYE’ FOR ‘PATI PATNI AUR WOH’

Singer Ritiviz has accused T-Series of plagiarism.

In a Tweet, singer and music producer Ritiviz alleged that his song, Udd Gaye, was used in a film without his permission.

BOMBAY HC STAYS PROBE AGAINST BAND ACCUSED OF HURTING RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

The Bombay High Court bench at Goa stayed the police investigation against members of the music band ‘Dastaan’ who were arrested on December 18 last year and released on bail in a case of hurting religious sentiments while they were performing at the Serendipity Arts Festival.

The court also granted them interim relief from any action by the Goa Police. The band members were arrested on the basis complaint filed by advocate Venkatesha Krishna Kunduru. In the complaint, Kunduru had alleged that a rendition of ‘Mantra Kavita’— written by poet Nagarjun—performed by the band had hurt his religious sentiments.

A day after the performance, the police had booked the members under section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code.

STAR INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED V. MOVIESTRUNK.COM AND OTHERS

The dispute between the Parties arose on account of Moviestrunk.com infringing  copyright of the Star India Pvt. Ltd’s  film “MISSION MANGAL” through communication to the public and permitting viewing and downloading of the same, without permission.

Star India pleaded that Moviestrunk.com were ‘rogue websites’, as their principal activity involved reproduction, publication and communication of infringing material over the internet.

The Court noted that the evidence placed on record by Star India actually pointed out to infringing activities being carried on by them. Moreover, the Court observed that their failure to enter appearance displayed their casual indifference to the IP rights of Star India. The Court determined the websites to be ‘rogue websites’.

INDIA AND POLAND SIGN PACT ON AUDIO-VISUAL CO-PRODUCTION SECTOR

Film and Television Producers Guild of India and Polish Film Institute has signed an agreement for co-operation to boost their relationship for mutual benefits of the film production industries between India and Poland. This agreement was signed at India International Film Tourism Conclave (IIFTC) in Mumbai recently. Both the parties, who are esteemed organizations representing their respective entertainment industries have agreed to join hands with the ultimate objective to collaborate together for sharing ideas and best practices on domestic and international film production, shooting and promotion, further mutual understanding of their film production markets and increase cultural understanding, enable opportunities for dialogue, creation, and sharing of ideas and best practices, utilizing their best efforts to facilitate seamless and cost-effective use of local services with respect to securing film agreements across India and Poland’s agencies, organizations and Government authorities and sharing references on Polish and Indian production and services companies in their respective countries.

P&H HC GRANTS INTERIM PROTECTION TO RAVEENA TANDON, FARAH KHAN AND BHARTI SINGH IN FIR ALLEGING HURTING OF RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

The Punjab & Haryana HC has directed the State of Punjab not to take “coercive steps” against Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, filmmaker Farah Khan and comedian Bharti Singh on their plea, seeking quashing of two separate FIRs registered against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during the web show “Backbenchers” released by Flipkart.

A total of 13 FIRS have been registered against them in Punjab and Maharashtra where allegations were raised that the said show have made joke of the word “Hallelujah” and have played with religious sentiments.

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