IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS

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CONGRESS, DMK, NCP URGE ELECTION COMISSION TO BAN ‘PM MODI BIOPIC’ DURING LOK SABHA POLLS

The National Student’s Union of India (NSUI) – Goa, the student wing of Congress, has urged the Election Commission to ban the release of Omung Kumar’s upcoming biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the ‘election silence’ period. The film, titled ‘PM Narendra Modi’ was slated to release on April 12, a day after the Lok Sabha elections commence. The Goan unit of NSUI wrote a letter demanding a ban 48 hours prior to the beginning of voting, as a party is not allowed to campaign during this period. They claimed that film to be propaganda by the makers to influence the public during the model code of conduct without including the expenditure incurred for the movie in the election expenditure of Narendra Modi who would be contesting as a Member of Parliament. The code of conduct came into effect from March 10 across the state with elections to be held in seven phases beginning from April 11, while the results are to be announced on May 23.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has also approached the Election Commission to seek a ban on the biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi until the end of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections.

The Nationalist Congress Party’s cultural wing also raised an objection with election authorities in Maharashtra.

The film is now set to hit the theatres on April 5, 2019, as the release date has been preponed from the initial release date.

IPRS AND GOOGLE SIGN MUSIC LICENSING DEAL FOR INDIA

On March 19, Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) that represents composers, lyricists and music publishers granted a license to Google enabling the company to utilize its members’ work and material across YouTube and related services in the country.

This move comes on heels of YouTube launching its music streaming service YouTube Music in India.

MAKEMYTRIP SUES EASEMYTRIP OVER GOOGLE AD-WORD

MakeMyTrip “MMT” has moved the Delhi High Court against EaseMyTrip “EMT” alleging the latter of buying ad word from Google for a keyword ‘makemytrip’ on its search engine. Google has been made a party to this suit.

MMT’s counsel informed the court that in September last year, EMT’s website was appearing in the second sponsored links section on Google, on running searches for ‘MakeMyTrip’. Subsequently, MMT had issued a cease and desist notice on September 10, 2018, to EMT, and no reply was received by MMT for the same.

MMT’s claim is that in order to beat EaseMyTrip and still remain on top of the search results, it is forced to spend more. The company is of the opinion that it is unfair when rivals bid for MMT’s name and divert traffic to their own platforms and has thus asked the court to intervene.

MMT officials have also taken the matter to the government in a recent meeting with Department for Promotion of Internal Trade during the stakeholder consultations on draft e-commerce policy earlier this month. The matter is listed to be next heard on May 8, 2019.

MADRAS HC RESERVES ITS VERDICT OF RESTRAINING A TAMIL TV CHANNEL FROM TELECASTING DEFAMATORY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST PMK

In response to a plea filed by New Generation Media Corporation Private Limited, the Madras High Court, vide order dated March 20, 2019 reserved its verdict of restraining the applicant’s news channel, ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’ from telecasting any news item or debate show containing false or defamatory allegations against Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), its founder S Ramadoss and youth wing leader Anubumani Ramadoss.

Justice R. Subramanian had, on March 15, 2019, granted an ex-parte interim injunction in response to a suit filed by party president G.K. Mani who accused the channel of harbouring personal vengeance against it as his party leader S Ramadoss had sought action against a group of educational institutions run by a trust headed by R. Pachamuthu, the father of P. Sathyanarayanan, the channel’s managing director. Mani had alleged that at a time when the Lok Sabha elections were close, the channel had begun to telecast false and defamatory news items.

The television channel had however denied the allegations and told the Court that Mr. Pachamuthu had nothing to do with the management or the editorial policy of the channel. They accused PMK of filing a “vexatious” suit only to prevent the channel from carrying any kind of news against it during election period. Mr. Pachamuthu had also asserted through a separate counter affidavit that he was not the founder of the television channel.

The Court initially asked the channel if it would be willing to carry a rebuttal from the party whenever any of the panelists ended up making false remarks against the party, to which the channel replied negatively. Thereafter, on hearing both parties, Justice R.Subramanian decided to reserve its previous verdict and refused to vacate the injunction.

TELANGANA HC REFUSES STAY ON RELEASE OF TELUGU FILMS, ‘LAKSHMI’S NTR’ AND ‘LAKSHMI’S VEERAGRANDHAM’

In response to a public interest litigation filed by activist Satyanarayana alias Devi Babu Chowdary, the Telangana High Court vide order March 19, 2019 refused to stay release on two political movies, ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’ and ‘Lakshmi’s Veeragrandham,’ slated to be released on March 29 and April 08. The petition sought a ban on release of both films until the completion of elections claiming that the films would create tensions in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  The film ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’ is based on actor-politician NT Rama Rao’s political life.

The petitioner’s counsel told the court that the release of the two films would cause mutual hatred between the people following the ideology of two opposite political parties who would be contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The counsel, while pointing out that there was no response from the Election Commission to the representation he had made on the issue, added that there might be a flare up of law and order situation in Telangana if the two films were allowed to release.

However, the bench comprising of Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice A Rajasheker Reddy made it clear that the Constitution did not have any provisions to stall people’s right to express and banning films on untenable grounds would violate the freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. On reviewing the petition, the bench further asked how anyone could crush the opinion of another.

The Court further added that if the film had any objectionable content, the government and the censor board should take necessary action, but the same could not be a ground for stopping the release of the film. The Court, while dismissing the petition, ordered the Telangana government and police to maintain law and order if there were to occur any unlawful incidents during the release.

BCCI REFUSES TO GRANT PERMISSION TO STAR INDIA TO RUN POLITICAL ADS DURING IPL 2019

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has declined to grant permission to Star India to run political advertisements during the Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcast. Star India Pvt. Ltd. is the official broadcast rights holder of IPL which is scheduled to begin from March 23 and will coincide with the Lok Sabha elections which are to be held in the months of April and May. In order to increase its revenue, the broadcaster had written to BCCI, requesting them to waive off a clause in the Media Rights Agreement which prohibited the broadcast of any kind of religious and political advertisements. After discussing the issue in detail, BCCI stated that it would not change its policy currently in place and that it would refrain broadcasters from airing political and religious advertisements during a bilateral, international or domestic tournament held under its banner.

DELHI GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ASKS CENTRE TO STOP PROMOTION OF TOBACCO BRANDS IN FILMFARE AWARDS CEREMONY

The additional director in the Delhi Health Department, Dr. S K Arora, has written to the Union Health Ministry, the Maharashtra public health department and the organizers of Filmfare Awards asking them to stop the advertisement and promotion of tobacco brands in the 64th edition of the awards to be held on March 23, 2019 in Mumbai. Dr. Arora, who was earlier heading Delhi State Tobacco Control Cell, stated that such advertisements would be in violation of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and the Food Safety and Standard Act. He further stated that the main sponsor of the award ceremony was a leading brand of tobacco and timely action was necessary to prevent youngsters from getting influenced from such advertisements.

The letter pointed out to the fact where the World Health Organisation had recently urged governments of all countries to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at sporting events and others. Dr. Arora also expressed his disappointment where inspite of lodging a complaint for tobacco promotion/sponsorship during a cricket match between India and Australia, the violation could not be prevented. He has therefore, requested for an early action to prevent this violation on legal ground and in public health interest.