As we usher into 2020 and IPRMENTLAW nears its second anniversary, we are pleased to bring to you our annual compilation of the IPRMENT (IPR, Media and Entertainment) highlights of 2019.
For ease of reference, we have divided the updates topic wise viz.
- Intermediary Liability
- Hurting religious and other sentiments
- Content Regulation
- Privacy and Personality Rights
- Sports and Gaming
DELHI HIGH COURT PASSES A LANDMARK JUDGEMENT AGAINST FILM PIRACY- ISSUES ITS FIRST DYNAMIC INJUNCTION AGAINST HYDRA HEADED ROGUE WEBSITES
The Delhi High Court vide its judgement dated April 10, 2019 in the matter of UTV Software Communications Ltd vs 1337TX.TO & ORS decreed a permanent injunction against defendant websites from, in any manner making available to the public any cinematograph work/ content in relation to which the plaintiffs have copyright. Department of Telecommunication and MEITY were also directed to issue a notification calling upon various ISPs / TSPs to block access to the said defendant websites. The court firstly went on to determine that a crime in a physical world that is stealing, should not be a crime in a digital world, especially when no such distinction is made in the copyright act. The court also went on to list certain factors to determine whether a website comes within the definition of a rogue website or a Flagrantly infringing online location. The Court also opined that that if the test to declare a website as a rogue website is that it should contain only illicit or infringing material, then each and every rogue website would add a small percentage of legitimate content and pray that it be not declared an infringing website. Consequently, the real test for examining whether a website is a Rogue Website is a qualitative approach and not a quantitative one. The court also went on to hold that website blocking in the case of rogue websites, like the defendant-websites, strikes a balance between preserving the benefits of a free and open Internet and efforts to stop crimes such as digital piracy, and comes within the directional jurisdiction and ambit of court powers. The Court also added a suggestion to ‘MeitY and the DoT, who were also defendants in this case, to consider coming up with a policy for a graduated response scheme, where individuals who access ‘pirated content’ can be notified of the same by ISPs, and if they do not refrain from continuing such actions, they may be fined.
TIPS VS WYNK- BOMBAY HC RULES THAT INTERNET BROADCASTING IS OUTSIDE THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 31D OF THE COPYRIGHT ACT
In the matter of Tips Industries Limited vs Wynk Music Ltd, Single bench of Justice S.J. Kathawalla in the Bombay High Court vide judgement dated April 23, 2019 ruled upon many issues with respect to internet streaming on OTT platforms and its implications on the statutory licensing provided under Section 31D of the Copyright Act. The dispute arose between the parties when licensing renewal negotiations failed between Tips and Wynk and the latter took refuge of Section 31D of the Copyright Act. Section 31D of the Copyright provides for a statutory licensing scheme, as per which any ‘broadcasting organization’ desirous of ‘communicating to the public’ any sound recording or its underlying works, may obtain a statutory license to do so, provided they pay the royalty rates to the copyright owners, at rates fixed by the IPAB.
Music streaming platform Wynk has filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court against the judgement dated April 23, 2019 passed by Justice Kathawala ruling that internet broadcasting is outside the purview of Section 31D of the Copyright Act. Recently, the Government issued the draft Copyright Amendment Rules, 2019 in which it has proposed to amend Rules 29 to 31 to include ‘each mode of broadcast’ within the scope of the statutory licensing provisions instead of radio and television broadcast.
GOVERNMENT PROPOSES TO AMEND THE COPYRIGHT RULES, 2013 SEEKS TO BRING ALL MODES OF BROADCAST WITHIN THE AMBIT OF STATUTORY LICENSING PROVISIONS
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) has notified on May 30, 2019 the proposed amendments to the Copyright Rules, 2013 (“Proposed Rules”) in exercise of its powers conferred under Section 78 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The Ministry has sought objections or suggestions from all persons likely to be affected thereby within a period of thirty days [ READ DRAFT RULES HERE].
The major highlight of the Proposed Rules is the amendment to Rules 29 to 31 to include “each mode of broadcast” for the words “radio broadcast or television broadcast”. Rules 29 to 31 deals with Statutory license for broadcasting of literary and musical works and sound recordings.
DELHI HIGH COURT RULES THAT DESTRUCTION OF WORK DOES NOT AMOUNT TO MORAL RIGHT INFRINGEMENT
In the case of Raj Rewal vs Union of India, the Delhi High Court the Delhi High Court has held that an architect of a building, in the capacity of an author of an artistic work of architecture, does not have the right to restrain the demolition of a building on the ground that it was designed as per his work.
The suit sought a direction against Union of India and ITPO to compensate the plaintiff by recreating the work of architecture in the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion at the same location or at any other location in Delhi which is equally prominent as the earlier location of the said buildings, under the direct supervision of the plaintiff. The Court held that while the plaintiff’s rights in the work were purely statutory rights circumscribed by the Copyright Act, the right to property was a constitutional right under Article 300A, which must prevail over statutory rights, observing that “when the Constitution in Article 300-A mandates that no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law, no law unless expressly providing for deprivation of property can, by implication be interpreted as depriving a person of his property.” The court further held that the author’s rights to prevent ‘distortion, mutilation or modification’ of their work under Section 57 did not permit an author to prevent the destruction of a work in its entirety, since “that what cannot be viewed, seen, heard or felt, cannot be imperfect and cannot affect the honour or reputation of the author.” The Court however observed that Central Government and ITPO had a duty to inform the Plaintiff in advance about the demolition of the buildings.
MRF LIMITED VS METRO TYRES LIMITED: DELHI HIGH COURT RULES THAT THE RIGHT TO MAKE A COPY OF A FILM UNDER SECTION 14(d)(i) IS NOT LIMITED TO MAKING A PHYSICAL COPY BUT ALSO A SUBSTANTIAL COPY
The Delhi High Court on July 1, 2019 has held that a film owner’s right ”to make a copy of the film” guaranteed under section 14(d)(i) includes the right to make a “physical or a mechanical copy” of the film by a process of duplication as well as “substantial copy” of the film. This decision is sided with Calcutta High Court’s view in Shree Venkatesh Films Pvt. Ltd. vs. Vipul Amrutlal Shah & Ors., but opposed Bombay High court’s decision in Star India vs Leo Burnett. This decision opens up a path for the producer or owners of the Cinematograph film to claim a copyright infringement of the films to include not just complete duplication of the work/mechanical copy but also substantial/material copy as well under section 14 (d) of the Act. As opposed to earlier such infringement will be an infringement of the film and not individual components.
EOW REGISTERS FIR AGAINST YRF IN A COMPLAINT FILED BY IPRS ALLEGING FAILURE OF ROYALTY PAYMENTS TO THE TUNE OF 100 CRORES BY YRF TO AUTHORS
The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) accused Bollywood production house Yash Raj Films (YRF) of unauthorizedly collecting over 100 crores in music royalties belonging to IPRS members. In an FIR filed with the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW), IPRS alleged that the production house has prevented it from collecting royalties from telecom companies, radio stations and music streaming platforms by pressuring artistes into signing illegal agreements. The FIR, registered under S. 409 (criminal breach of trust) and S. 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Copyright Act, named YRF directors Aditya Chopra and Uday Chopra, asserted that the production house cannot collect royalties on behalf of artistes and music producers as it is the sole and exclusive right of IPRS.
ILAYARAJA CASE- MADRAS HIGH COURT RULES THAT PRODUCER OF CINEMATOGRAPH FILMS HOLDS COPYRIGHT BY DEFAULT IN THE SOUND RECORDINGS UNLESS THERE IS A CONTRACT TO THE CONTRARY
The Madras High Court on June 4, 2019 put an end to a long-standing copyright infringement case between Ilayaraja, Agi Music Pvt. Ltd and Echo Recording Company Pvt. Ltd [Read judgement here]. The court held the special rights under Section 57 to be absolute i.e. a right which cannot be negated or defeated contractually. The court further held that the special right to exploit such ‘musical work’ apart from being used in a cinematographic context otherwise is unfettered. The court also held that the producer of the ‘cinematograph film’ will, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be the first owner of the copyright therein including such ‘sound recording’.
SAREGAMA AGREES TO PULL DOWN PHOTOGRAPHS & STOP USING NAME OF MANNA DEY ON COVER OF ITS CD’s IN A CASE FILED IN SUPREME COURT
In an SLP filed by daughter of Shri Mannay Dey, Saregama India Limited agreed to remove and not make any further use of the photographs and the name of late Shri Manna Dey on the cover of the subject CDs. The Court further directed that Civil Suit being O.S. No.6676 of 2017 pending before the City Civil Judge at Bangalore shall be decided as expeditiously as possible preferably not later than one year after the next date of hearing.
The order was passed in the proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 31C of the Copyright Act, 1957, which stipulates that a Cover Version shall not be sold with any packaging, cover or label which is likely to mislead the public and in particular shall not contain the name or depict in any way any performer of an earlier sound recording of the same work.
SAREGAMA DRAGS SPOTIFY TO DELHI HIGH COURT OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
In a copyright infringement suit filed by music giant Saregama against Spotify before the Delhi High Court, Spotify gave an undertaking to the court to pull down all the works belonging to Saregama from Spotify’s platform within 10 days. The suit was filed on account of Saregama songs being available on Spotify without any license being taken from Saregama.
MADRAS HIGH COURT RESTRAINS SONY MUSIC FROM EXPLOITING SONGS OF 17 TAMIL FILMS IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CLAIM
As per reports, the Madras High Court has restrained Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt Limited from exploiting the sound recordings in digital and other electronic platforms of songs of 17 Tamil feature films, including Villan, Vaali, Vanjinathan and Citizen. Justice M Sundar granted the injunction while passing an interim order on an application arising out of civil suit filed by S Khaja Mohideen, proprietor of city-based Bayshore Records. The plaintiff claimed that despite the cease and desist notice issued by the Plaintiff, Sony Music continued to exploit the said songs. Hence the copyright infringement suit was filed seeking permanent injunction and the court found the prima facie case to be established and balance of convenience in favor of the Plaintiff.
DELHI HC DISMISSES SHARECHAT’S LAWSUIT AGAINST BYTEDANCE
As per reports, the Delhi high court on May 17, dismissed Bengaluru-based social media platform ShareChat’s lawsuit against ByteDance, where the former accused the Chinese company of copying its design, infringing its copyright and creating unfair competition. Sharechat had dragged Bytedance to the Delhi HC last year alleging copyright infringement and passing off. ShareChat alleged that ByteDance’s Helo is a ‘complete copy’ of ShareChat and has copied the features, ‘look and feel’ and also certain icons that appear on ShareChat. It had also accused Bytedance of ‘adwords ambushing.
NOVEX COMMUNICATIONS DRAGS OVER 30 PUBS, RESTAURANTS IN BENGALURU AND MYSURU OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Novex Communications has dragged over 30 pubs, microbreweries and hotels in Bengaluru and Mysuru seeking injunction against them from playing songs of the music labels represented by Novex without procuring a public performance license. Novex Communications currently represents Zee Music, YRF, Eros International, Tips, Think Music, Red Ribbon Entertainment, Sukhbir and Nucleya. The High Court granted temporary injunction against the parties that was effective till April 26,2019 and sent the case back to trial court.
CISAC CHAIRMAN DECLARES IPRS WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING COPYRIGHT SOCIETY
At the recently held CISAC General Assembly 2019 held in Tokyo, CISAC chairman Eric Baptiste declared IPRS to be the world’s fastest growing Copyright Society. CISAC (The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) is the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, which represents 239 member societies in 122 countries/territories.
ENTHIRAN ROW : KALANITHI MARAN GETS RELIEF FROM MADRAS HIGH COURT
As per reports, Writer Aarur Tamilnadan had filed a legal suit ten years ago, accusing Enthiran director S Shankar and producer Kalanithi Maran of Sun Pictures for plagiarizing his content. He accused both of them of violating the Copyright Act and of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC. The matter came up for hearing before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, wherein Justice Pugazhendi absolved Kalanithi Maran of all charges as he was in no way connected with the story. However, the court refused to quash the proceedings against director Shankar.
WRITER SARAH ABOOBAKKER WINS PLAGIARISM CASE AGAINST MAKERS OF NATIONAL AWARD WINNING MOVIE ‘BYARI’.
Kannada Writer, Sarah Aboobakker has filed case of plagiarism against the makers of Swarn Kamal Award winning movie Byari for her famed work Chandragiriya Teeradalli , the first movie ever made in Beary Language. She claimed the filmmakers have used the story without her permission. However, the Court passed the Judgement in favour of Aboobakker and upheld her contention that there was an infringement of Intellectual Property Rights. The Court directed the filmmaker to pay compensation along with the interest.
DELHI HIGH COURT APPLIES DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY, DIRECTS IPAB TO HEAR URGENT MATTERS EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF TECHNICAL MEMBERS
The Delhi High Court in the matter of Mylan Laboratories Limited vs Union of India vide judgement dated July 8, 2019 had held that the doctrine of necessity has to be invoked in relation to IPAB being able to take up urgent matters even in the absence of a technical member. The Court observed:
The Court also observed that it is pained to note that no Technical Member (Copyright) has been appointed till date. The post of Technical Member (Patents) is lying vacant since 04th May, 2016 whereas the post of Technical Member (Trade Marks) is lying vacant since 05th December, 2018. IPAB has only one Technical Member relating to Plant Varieties Protection. About 3935 cases are pending adjudication before IPAB across all its Benches. However, cases relating to trademarks, copyrights and patents are not being taken up as there is no Technical Member relating to those specialties. The Court also relied on the Delhi HC’s decision in the matter of Radio Next
YASH RAJ FILMS PVT LTD VS SRI SAI GANESH PRODUCTIONS & ORS- DELHI HIGH COURT GRANTS INJUNCTION IN FAVOUR OF YRF IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT
The Delhi High Court on July 8, granted an injunction in favour of YRF restraining the defendant from infringing the Plaintiff’s film “BAND BAAJA BAARAAT” by its dubbing and release in Tamil as a cinematograph film titled “JABARDASTH”. The Court reiterated its ruling in the case of MRF Limited vs Metro Tyres in which the court had held that a film is recognized as being more or greater than the sum of its parts and copyright subsists in a “cinematograph film” as a work independent of underlying works that come together to constitute it. Further, though the expression “original” is missing in Section 13(1)(b) of the Copyright Act, 1957, yet the requirement of originality or intellectual creation is brought in through Sections 13(3)(a) and 2(d). Further, the expression “to make a copy of the film” in Section 14(d)(i) does not mean just to make a physical copy of the film by a process of duplication. Further, as the scope of protection of a film is at par with other original works, the test laid down in R.G. Anand v. M/s Deluxe Films and Ors. (1978) 4 SCC 118 would apply. Accordingly, the Court compared “the substance, the foundation, the kernel” of the two films and viewed that the defendants copies the fundamental essence and structure of the plaintiff’s expression.
DELHI HIGH COURT REFUSES TO GRANT AD-INTERIM INJUNCTION TO SAREGAMA IN ITS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT AGAINST MADDOCK FILMS FOR THE SONG “KE ODHNI ODHU ODHU NE UDI JAYE”
Saregama India Limited dragged Maddock Films Pvt. Ltd, producers of the Rajkumar Rao and Mouni Roy starrer ‘Made in China’ to the Delhi High Court alleging infringement of their copyright in the song titled ‘Ke Odhni Odhu Odhu Ne Udi Jaye”. In view of Sony Music not being impleaded as a party to the suit, the Court refused to grant an ad-interim injunction to Saregama. In the meantime, in view of the stand of the defendant that Saregama has no rights either in the song or the underlying work for the reason that the gramophone company which is the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiff only received limited rights and the plaintiff is not entitled to any license fee, the Court as an ad-interim measure directed the defendant to furnish a security for a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs with the court. The matter was eventually settled between the Parties.
DELHI HIGH COURT GRANTS INJUNCTION TO SAREGAMA IN ITS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT FOR THE SONG ‘DHAGALA LAGLI KALA’ FROM THE FILM DREAM GIRL
Delhi High Court granted injunction in favour of Saregama in a copyright infringement suit pertaining to the song ‘Dhagala Lagli Kala’ from the film Dream Girl. Appeal filed against the order pending before the Delhi High Court.
DELHI HIGH COURT GRANTS INJUNCTION AGAINST LEE PHARMACEUTICALS IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT FILED BY MANKIND PHARMA
The Delhi High Court vide order dated July 12, 2019 restrained Lee Pharmaceuticals from using the content of the website of Mankind Pharma.
Mankind Pharma had filed a suit for a permanent injunction restraining Lee Pharmaceuticals from using the content of its website. Mankind Pharma has various domain names registered in its name with the mark ‘Mankind’, with the main website being www.mankindpharma.com. The website by Lee Pharmaceuticals is allegedly a copy of Mankind Pharma’s website.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT PAVES WAY FOR RELEASE OF MISSION MANGAL
The Bombay High Court on August 9 refused to stay the release of the Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Mission Mangal in a copyright infringement and breach of confidentiality suit filed by US based filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj. The plaintiff who is making a film ‘Space Moms’ based on women scientists of ISRO, had alleged that Ellipsis Entertainment had shared her script with Vidya Balan, one of the Mission Mangal actresses, who in turn, leaked it to R. Balki. She sought damages to the tune of INR 90 Lacs for breach of confidentiality. The Court was of the view that the plaintiff failed to make a proper case for ad interim reliefs and added that it’s not possible to allege copyright infringement by attempting to draw similarities between the script of Space Moms (which was not submitted before the Court) and the trailer of Mission Mangal.
DELHI HIGH COURT DIRECTS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS TO BLOCK ACCESS TO WEBSITES SUCH AS TAMILROCKERS AND SIMILAR WEBSITES.
Warner Bros had filed a plea in the Delhi High Court alleging that the websites such as Tamilrockers, eztv, katmovies and limetorrents are hosting, streaming and making available to the public its original content, as well as that of others like UTV, Star, Paramount, Universal and Netflix, without any authorisation. The Court was satisfied that a prima facie case is made out by Warner Bros company and in absence of an interim order, irreparable injury would be caused to the company and hence has passed an interim order to block access to all the Uniform resource locators (URLs) and IP addresses of the aforementioned websites.
PLEA ALLEGING PLAGIARISM FILED IN MADRAS HIGH COURT AGAINST THE TAMIL FILM ‘KAAPPAAN’.
A writer named John Charles had 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. After hearing both the Parties and recording the submissions, Court refused to grant an interim relief. The Madras High Court, further in the next hearing, dismissed the plagiarism charges against the movie ‘Kaappaan’.
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. 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.
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.
FILMMAKER JANAK TOPRANI ACCUSES MAKERS OF ‘DREAM GIRL’ OF PLAGIARISM
Ayushmann Khurrana’s comedy-drama ‘Dream Girl’ was recently drawn into controversy after filmmaker Janak Toprani accused the makers of plagiarism. Janak Toprani who has directed a film called ‘Call For Fun’ in 2017 alleged that Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Dream Girl’ has a striking resemblance to his film which sees the main male lead character donning various female avatars.
COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT FILED IN BOMBAY HIGH COURT AGAINST AYUSHMANN KHURRANA’S FILM “BALA”
A copyright infringement suit had been filed in Bombay High Court against Ayushmann Khurrana’s upcoming film “Bala” by Praveen Morchhale against the author Niren Bhatt and maker of the film Maddock Films. He states that the film’s idea has been duplicated from his content titled Mr Yogi. He claims that he has registered the script with the Film Writer’s Association back in 2007.
MADRAS HIGH COURT GRANTS A JOHN DOE ORDER TO CURB PIRACY OF THE TAMIL FILM ‘NAMMA VEETTU PILLAI’
The Madras high court restrained 43 internet service providers (ISPs) across the country and 6,455 websites from uploading or streaming pirated versions of the Tamil film ‘Namma Veettu Pillai’. Justice N Sathish Kumar passed the order while allowing a plea moved by the film’s producer Sun TV Network. The producer claimed the company had invested substantial money in the making of the film which is set to be released across the world, including screens in Chennai, on September 27. Allowing the plea, the court restrained the ISPs and the websites from releasing pirated versions of the film.
UJDA CHAMAN VS BALA- PANORAMA STUDIOS MOVES BOMBAY HIGH COURT AGAINST MADDOCK FILMS ALLEGING COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Producers of the film ‘Ujda Chaman’ had moved the Bombay High Court against the producers of the film ‘Bala’ alleging infringement of copyright of their film. The two films are both featuring a bald protagonist and have similar story lines attached to them. The matter was heard before Justice A.K. Menon on 18th October, wherein the Court directed the plaintiff to deposit a copy of the film ‘Ujda Chaman’ with the court. The parties also agreed that the plaintiff’s representative would be permitted to view the defendant’s film on 19th October. Read order here. Panorama Studios withdrew the suit and the matter was accordingly disposed of on October 28, 2019.
OGLIVY AND MATHER DRAG VIVO MOBILE TO BOMBAY HIGH COURT OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IN AN ADVERTISEMENT
Brand David Communications Pvt. Ltd which is a part of the well-known advertising and marketing group Oglivy an Mather (O&M) Group filed a copyright infringement suit against Vivo mobiles seeking permanent injunction to restrain them from exploiting the television commercial of their mobile phone titled ‘Amusement Park’. The Plaintiff claimed that they had made an advertising and marketing pitch to the Defendant No.1 and that the literary, artistic and other creative works pertaining to the pitch were made in confidence by the Plaintiff to the Defendant No.1. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants in collusion with each other unauthorizedly and illegally reproduced and exploited the said works so as to infringe the Plaintiff’s copyright. The court observed certain similarities in the works of the plaintiff and the defendant. However, the court was convinced on the issue of balance of convenience being in favor of the defendant as the TVC had aired for the first time on 20th September 2019 which the plaintiff was aware of. The Court was of the view that if an unconditional injunction is granted, it would not be in interest of justice. The Court accordingly directed the Defendant No.1 to deposit Rs. 1 crore with the court. Read order here. The matter was eventually settled between the parties.
MADRAS HIGH COURT RESERVES ORDER ON VIJAY’S FILM ‘BIGIL’
Since 2012 almost all films of Vijay have faced controversies in one way or the other. This time it is his latest sports action movie ‘Bigil’ starring Vijay and Nayanthara, written and directed by Atlee and produced by Kalpathi S Aghoram. Petitioner KP Selvah, a movie director, had moved to the Madras High Court claiming copyright over the story. The story of Bigil resembles his 256 page script which he has duly registered with South Indian Film Writers Association. He claims to have discussed the story with many producers, however, the makers of Bigil have produced the said film completely resembling his script, which amounts to infringement of his copyright. Justice R Suresh Kumar has adjourned the plea to 16th October for the producers of Bigil to submit proof of evidence in connection with the claim. The judge had set aside the order in so far as disallowing Selvah to file a fresh suit before appropriate forum. However, the High Court refrained from stalling the film’s release on 25th October.
KAMAL KANT CHANDRA MOVES BOMBAY HIGH COURT AGAINST AYUSHMAAN KHURANA AND PRODUCERS OF ‘BALA’, FAILS TO OBTAIN ANY AD-INTERIM RELIEF DUE TO NON-JOINDER OF RELIANCE AS A PARTY
A lot of drama seems to have unfolded prior to release of the film ‘Bala’. After the makers got out of the Ujda Chaman litigation, another litigant, Kamal Kant Chandra moved the Bombay High Court seeking stay on the release claiming that the makers of Bala had plagiarized his story. The Bombay High Court however declined to grant any ad-interim reliefs since the party which would be most affected by the stay i.e. the distributors, Reliance / Jio Studios were not made party to the suit. Read order here.
IPRS MOVES BOMBAY HIGH COURT AGAINST USHODAYA ENTERPRISES WHICH RUNS THE RADIO CHANNEL EENADU FM
The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) had filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against Ushodaya Enterprises Pvt. Ltd which runs the radio channel Eenadu FM/ EFM.After hearing the parties at length, the Court decided that since the issue involved in the matter is an issue of law, in particular relating to the rights to be claimed under Section 33 post its amendment in 2012, the Interim Application itself may be heard finally.The Interim Application is stood over to 21 January 2020 for final hearing. Read detailed post here.
SPOTIFY FACES $1 BILLION LAWSUIT OVER INTENTIONAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES
Pro Music LLC and Sosa Entertainment LLC had filed a suit alleging that Spotify has failed to pay on 550,000,000 musical streams. A major part of the non-payment stems from a contested removal of content, starting in 2017. For the content removal, it seemed like Spotify was seizing catalogue based on certain rules and regulations, but both PRO and Sosa contested that such removal was unjustified. In May 2017, Spotify removed all of Plaintiffs’ songs from its digital music streaming platform without giving any advance notice to them, without giving a reason to the Plaintiff why their songs were removed, without giving Plaintiffs an opportunity to address the issue, without providing Plaintiffs with an opportunity to cure whatever the reason for removal, and not adhering to the rules, procedures, policies and obligations to which Spotify holds itself out to the public. Pro Music Rights intended to ask a Florida jury at trial to hold Spotify responsible for its reprehensible conduct of intellectual property infringement and unfair and deceptive trade practices as said by Jake Noch, the founder and CEO of Pro Music Rights. The case, Pro Music Rights LLC et al v. Spotify AB, was filed earlier on November 25th in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
NO STAY ON ‘PANIPAT’S’ RELEASE; BOMBAY HC REFUSES TO GRANT RELIEF IN A PLEA BY MARATHI AUTHOR VISHWAS PATIL AGAINST THE FILM
A Marathi author Vishwas Patil had filed a lawsuit in Bombay high court against Ashutosh Gowariker’s upcoming release ‘Panipat’ starring Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon in lead roles. The Bombay high court refused to grant interim relief against the stay of the film. The Single Judge Bench of Justice S C Gupte refused to grant the relief by stating that depiction of Maratha warriors in a positive light is not copyrightable. He also mentioned that the complainant can’t just walk up to the court and say that he has an apprehension. The request of having a private screening by Mr. Patil of the film before its release was also rejected.
MADRAS HIGH COURT QUASHES PROCEEDINGS AGAINST VIJAY, LYCA PRODUCTION AND 3 OTHERS
The Madras High Court on December 10 set aside proceedings against actor Vijay, Lyca productions, which is the producer of Tamil film ‘Kaththi’, and three others in a copyright infringement case. It directed a judicial magistrate court to summon Kaththi director A.R. Murugadoss and compare the short film Thaga Bhoomi and the 2014 Vijay-starrer and said it could go ahead with proceedings if there was prima facie evidence regarding the complaint of copyright violation. Justice G R Swaminathan of the Madras High court’s Madurai bench was hearing a plea filed by Vijay and others seeking quashing of proceedings in the Thanjavur judicial magistrate court. The judge set aside the proceedings against Vijay, Lyca productions and three others, saying there was no material against them.
DELHI COURT ASKS MAKERS OF THE FILM ‘URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE’ TO SETTLE THE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CLAIM MADE BY AUTHOR NITIN A. GOKHALE:
In the copyright infringement suit filed by Nitin A Gokhale, author of the book, ‘Securing India-The Modi Way, Pathankot, Surgical Strikes and more’ before a Delhi Court, alleging that the film is substantially based on his book which amounts to copyright infringement as his permission was not obtained for such exploitation, reportedly, the Court had asked the film’s producers to settle the issue with the author.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT TO DECIDE ON COPYRIGHTABILITY OF TRADITIONAL SONGS
The division bench of Justices B P Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite-Dere of Bombay High Court admitted the petition filed by lyricist and song writer Pramod Surya and two publishers Pukhraj Surya and Hiten Patel seeking to quash a FIR lodged against them for copyright violation. According to the petition, the petitioner Pramod Surya had compiled and published old Marwari and Gujarati traditional songs, sung during marriage and other ceremonies in two of her books. J. Dharamadhikari stated:
“These are old traditional songs that have been played and sung at weddings and other ceremonies since generations. How can one claim copyright on it? This is like saying our national anthem and ‘Vande Mataram’ cannot be reproduced by anyone anywhere”
Meanwhile, the bench directed the police to not file the charge sheet in the case against the petitioners. The Court will now decide whether reproduction of old traditional songs and compilation of such songs amounts to copyright violations and criminal action.
COPYRIGHT OFFICE ALLOWS ONLINE SUBMISSION OF THE LITERARY, ARTISTIC AND DRAMATIC WORK-RELATED DOCUMENT
The Copyright Office, New Delhi vide order dated January 17, 2019 has allowed Applicants to upload soft copies of literary, artistic and dramatic work related documents on its online portal through its e-filing module. This move has been initiated to facilitate seamless registration of works and a manual for uploading the documents has been uploaded on the copyright website to help Applicants upload the documents via online medium. The documents can be uploaded in their original colour scheme after paying the requisite fees.
BENNETT COLEMAN WINS COPYRIGHT AND TRADEMARK INFRINGMENT SUIT AGAINST AJAY KUMAR AND WEBSITE
A suit was filed by Bennett Coleman after it found that one Ajay Kumar ran a website called www.sscias.com and made the electronic copy of the plaintiff’s Delhi edition newspaper available for downloading on their website. The website also displayed the petitioner’s logo on its website without authorization. The plaintiff contended that the website was run to earn illegal commercial benefits as it allowed advertisers to place their advertisements online which would affect the petitioner’s business. Due to the activities of the other party, there would be fall in the sale of physical copies of newspapers and the number of online visits on the plaintiff’s website. In an interim order dated January 16, 2019 passed by J. Manmohan, Delhi High Court restrained the said website and its founders from putting the copies of the plaintiff Bennett Coleman owned newspapers ‘The Times of India’ and ‘The Economic Times’ on its website www.sscias.com, or through any platform/device. The order also restrained the other party from using the logo of the Times Group.
DIPP CLARIFIES THROUGH TWITTER REGARDING IPRS NOT CHARGING ROYALTY FOR MARRIAGE AND RELATED EVENTS
Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) clarified and informed the general public that “IPRS does not charge any Royalty or License Fees for events/functions declared as marriage or its related events as per law.” It also clarified that “If any organizer or third party asks for any Royalty/License Fees to be paid to IPRS for such marriage events, the user is advised to take appropriate action as advised.”
NEERAJ PANDEY GETS INTO COPYRIGHT TROUBLE OVER HIS FILM LADDOO
Recently, Director Neeraj Pandey released his short film titled ‘Laddoo’ online starring Kumud Mishra, Manasi Parekh and Kabir Sajid. This has been contested by filmmaker Ajay Dhama to be a clear case of plagiarism as the impugned movie Laddoo is clear copy of the idea of his film ‘In the name of God’. Dhama claims that the name of the characters, theme of the film and even dialogues have been plagiarised. He has also sent a legal notice to the makers of ‘Laddoo’ for violating trademark, copyright and patent act. Whereas on the other hand, producer Shital Bhatia in news report replied that they take such (copyright) claims very seriously as they are responsible storytellers. They have on their part reached out to Mr. Ajay Dhama and asked him to show his film and script.
MADRAS HC REFUSES ANTICIPATORY BAIL TO THOSE WHO PIRATED TAMIL MOVIE ‘RAJA RANGUSKI’
Justice GK Ilanthirayan of Madras High Court recently refused to grant anticipatory bail to five accused who had pirated Tamil movie ‘Raja Ranguski’. The accused were booked after a complaint was filed by the producer MKS Vasanth on 21st September 2018 alleging that the accused had illegally videographed the entire movie while it was playing in the theatre and then uploaded it on pirate websites including ‘Tamilrockers’. The complaint was filed at the Intellectual Property Enforcement Cell of Tamil Nadu Police for offences under Section 379, 380, 406 and 409 of Indian Penal Code, Section 63, 63B, 65 of the Copyright Act and Section 66B of the Information Technology Act.
BOMBAY HC SUMMONS PRAKASH RAJ OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT FILED BY ZEE STUDIOS
Bombay High Court had summoned actor Prakash Raj to be present in the court regarding a suit over the movie ‘Tadka’. Essel Vision Productions Limited, the company which owns Zee Studios, moved the High Court on January 25, 2019 to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between them and Prakash Raj’s brother-in-law Jatish Verma who is the partner of the production house Movie Makers. Zee Studios claim that according to the terms of MoU, there was an agreement of 60:40 share of intellectual property rights whereas the exploitation rights were solely vested with Zee. The problem started when Prakash Raj sold some rights related to the film to the financing company Akshay Communication Pvt. Ltd. which is in possession of the rights of the negatives.
NETFLIX FACES COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT OVER ITS AWARD WINNING SERIES ‘WILD WILD COUNTRY’
Netflix had been hit with a copyright infringement suit in the US District Court over its cult hit series ‘Wild Wild Country.’ Directors Chapman, Maclain Way and Duplass Brothers Productions have been named in the suit filed by the Osho International Foundation, a company that promotes the teachings of the documentary’s subject, a controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh also known as Osho. Osho Foundation states that Netflix infringed their copyrighted works, which document the teachings and life of Osho, by producing, distributing and streaming the series. The lawsuit asserts that a substantial portion of these works has been used without the Foundation’s permission and also that the first episode includes about 88 discrete instances of copyright infringement and the infringing material lasts for 12 minutes. The Foundation had asked the US District Court to grant an injunction to permanently restrain Netflix from further infringing the copyrighted works and is further seeking damages and disgorgement of Netflix’s profits.
MALAYALAM DIRECTOR AASHIQ ABU’s MOVIE ‘VIRUS’ GETS STAYED OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGMENT
Ernakulam District Court has issued a stay order against Director Aashiq Abu’s movie titled ‘Virus’. The movie is based on Nipah Virus outbreak of 2018 that happened in Kozhikode and Malappuram district claiming 17 lives. The efforts of the state government and doctors were lauded worldwide which helped in diagnosing the virus in its initial stages. The Court issued the stay after Director Uday Anand filed for copyright infringement stating that he had the story of the movie registered under his name. The Court will hear the case next on 16th February 2019.
SONGWRITER CLAIMS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT OVER ONE DIRECTION SONG ‘NIGHT CHANGES’ FIVE YEARS AFTER IT WAS RELEASED
Singer-Songwriter David Lewis Smith has filed a case of copyright infringement against a song ‘Night Changes’ released by One Direction five years ago in 2014. Damages have been claimed from all the five original members of One Direction including Zayn Malik who had left One Direction in 2015. All the defendants have denied the claims.
The case was listed before Justice Leonie Reynolds and lawyers representing Lewis Smith are seeking discovery orders with respect to documents of composition and writing for the song ‘Night Changes’, including documents relating to any earlier and separate drafts of the song.
EUROPEAN UNION AGREES ON COPYRIGHT DIRECTIVE TEXT TO MODERNISE COPYRIGHT RULES
In order to make copyright legislation fit for today’s digital environment, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission, via a press release dated February 13, 2019, agreed upon the final text of the new EU Copyright Directive. Representatives of the three branches of the European Government had been locked in “trilogue” negotiations for several days before this final deal was reached.The agreed text, includes the directive’s two most controversial aspects, Article 11, wherein the directive proposes to grant stronger protections for press publishers, by granting rights over ‘works of a journalistic nature’, which are used by information society service providers (i.e. platforms) for a period of 20 years (the so-called “Link Tax” proposal) and Article 13, where the directive proposes that large content hosting platforms must, in cooperation with rights holders, implement appropriate mechanisms to prevent the availability of works identified by rights holders, emphasizing on the need to adopt content recognition software to monitor and filter their content to prevent access (the “Upload Filter” proposal). On receiving confirmation of the agreed text by the European Parliament and Council, the Member States would have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the EU’s Copyright Directive by a majority of 348 votes for, 274 against and 36 abstentions. Consecutively, there were public protests in a number of European cities and an unprecedented multi-million-dollar lobbying campaign from the tech sector and Google, which owns YouTube. Now that the legislation has been officially passed, all EU member countries will have two years to transpose the directive into national law, preceding which, member states will need to re-approve the Parliament’s decision on the EU Statute Book
BOMBAY HC DIRECTS SPOTIFY TO DEPOSIT 6.5 CRORES IN A SUIT FILED BY WARNER CHAPPEL MUSIC
Just before its launch in India, the Bombay High Court vide order February 26, 2019 directed the music streaming app Spotify to deposit Rs 6.5 crores after a suit for infringement was filed by Warner Chappel Music (WCM), the music publishing division of Warner Music Group (WMG). The suit was filed with a motion seeking an interim injunction to prevent the music streaming service from publishing its songs on the app without a license.
After engaging in months of negotiations with WCM to seek a licence, Spotify claimed that it could offer the songs on its platform pursuant to its application for obtaining a statutory licence under Section 31 D of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. Spotify also stated that WCM had initially clarified that it was willing to grant Spotify a voluntary license for India, but that it suddenly and shortly prior to Spotify’s planned India launch refused to grant the license “without providing any reasonable grounds whatsoever”. However, Warner Music accused Spotify of abruptly changing course after months of negotiations and falsely asserting the statutory license for its songwriters’ music publishing rights in India, due to which they had no choice but seek an injunction to prevent this. Justice SJ Kathawalla while passing the order, firstly, directed Warner Music to instruct the International Copyright Enterprises Services Limited to return the amount of 5,28,000 Euros to Spotify so that the same could be deposited in Court. Secondly, the Court also asked Spotify to maintain a complete record of the use of WCM’s musical works as well as the advertisement and subscription revenue and lastly restrained Spotify from approaching the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) for a period of four weeks for their claim to Statutory License. The order was passed without prejudice to the claims of the parties regarding the jurisdiction of the IPAB with respect to Section 31 D of the Copyright Act, 1957 regarding statutory license as claimed by Spotify. The Notice of Motion is further placed for directions on March 25, 2019.
MADRAS HIGH COURT ISSUES NOTICE TO PRODUCERS OF ‘YAATHRA’- A BIOPIC ON THE LATE CHIEF MINISTER OF ANDHRA PRADESH
The Madras High Court issued a notice to the producers of Mammootty starrer ‘Yaathra’ which is a biopic on the late Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Y S Rajasekhar Reddy. The notice was in response to a petition filed by M Murugan of Sri Saai Lakshmi Pictures who sought a permanent injunction from releasing the film in Tamil in any theatre.
The petitioner claimed that the shooting of a film with the same name was almost over and was to be released by February end. He also stated that since the title and story of the film had already been registered with the Film and Television Producer Guild of South India, it belonged to him.
DUBAI BASED FIRM MOVES BOMBAY HC TO BLOCK NETFLIX’S FILM ON 26/11
Plus Holdings (Petitioner), a Dubai based firm filed a petition against Netflix Global LLC and others in the Bombay High Court to block Netflix from releasing the film titled “Hotel Mumbai” on Netflix’s OTT platform in India on the grounds that petitioner had the rights to release the film in the Indian market vide agreement between the petitioner and Netflix. The film story is based on true events of 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. The High Court vide order March 07, 2019, stated that Netflix shall not be exhibiting the film in question and will also withdraw all publicity material in respect of the film as the licensed rights which were granted to Netflix were also terminated. In furtherance, the Court added that Netflix is no more a necessary party to these proceedings and accordingly ordered them to be removed. The Court also restrained original Owners from entering into any agreements or creating any third party rights in relation to the said film as an ad interim protection. The matter is further listed for hearing on April 04, 2019.
FILMMAKER AMITABH PARASHAR SENDS LEGAL NOTICE TO T-SERIES; ACCUSES THEM OF STEALING HIS IDEA
The national award winner for the documentary ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ journalist turned filmmaker, Amitabh Parashar, had sent a legal notice to Bhushan Kumar’s T-series. He is alleging them for pilfering his ideas of the script of its upcoming movie ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’, starring Sonakshi Sinha and Anu Kapoor. Parashar, through his legal notice, stated that he had developed the idea of comedy film, titled ‘Bhaag Mohabbat’ which revolves around the world of street sex doctors and had approached the production house last year to discuss the same. For this, he had met with T-series’ Mukesh Desai and also narrated the same in brief to Anjali Bhushan of the same company. He further stated that he had mailed them a soft copy of his script in March 2018 for which he had received an acknowledgement and also got it registered with the Screen Writer’s Association, Mumbai.
WRITER MOVES BOMBAY HIGH COURT AGAINST ‘CHHAPAAK’, SEEKS CREDIT FOR STORY
‘Chhapaak’ starring Deepika Padukone and Vikrant Massey is based on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. Rakesh Bharti, a writer, has approached the Bombay High Court claiming that he is the original author of the acid attack survivor’s story on which the film is based and should be given credit as one of the writers of the film. In the suit, Bharti claims that he conceived the idea/script for the movie and tentatively titled it Black Friday. He also got it registered with the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ (IMPPA) in February 2015. In his plea, Bharti claims that the release of the movie should be stayed until he is given due credit as one of the writer of the film and an expert should be appointed to compare his script with that of ‘Chhapaak’.
The matter is next listed on January 7, 2020. The film is slated for release on January 10, 2020.
PPL, IPRS, NOVEX OBTAIN ORDERS SEEKING INJUNCTION AGAINST HOTELS/ EVENT ORGANIZERS PLAYING MUSIC SANS LICENSE.
PPL obtained an order from the Bombay High Court which can be accessed here. Single Bench of Justice R D Dhanuka continued an interim relief sought by Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a performing rights organisation, thereby restraining several hotels including Hotel Hilton and other pubs, restaurants in the State from playing recordings of popular film and non-film music under the control of PPL. In the 2019 order the court, considering the ad-interim orders passed in 2018 and the fact that no appeal is preferred by any of the defendants, continued the ad-interim relief granted in 2018 for Christmas and new year during the pendency of the notices of motion.
Novex Communications and IPRS also obtained an order from the Bombay High Court against several hotels and pubs in the state restricting them from playing Bollywood music, licenses of which are vested with Novex. Orders can be accessed here.
Check out more of international copyright updates of the year here on the amazing 1709 blog.
DELHI HC RESTRAINS E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS LIKE AMAZON, 1MG & FLIPKART FROM SELLING DIRECT SELLERS’ PRODUCTS WITHOUT CONSENT-
The Delhi High Court, on July 8, 2019, has restrained e-commerce platforms like Amazon, 1MG, Flipkart from selling products of Amway, Modicare and Oriflame without their prior consent.
While answering upon the 4 main issues raised in the case the court went on to hold the following:
- The E-Commerce guidelines, which was notified in 2016, has yet not been challenged, are deemed to be binding and not infringing any Fundamental rights of sellers of platforms. It is prudent for both platforms and sellers to abide by these guidelines to avoid any sort of injustice to either parties. Hence, effectively, the platforms need to take consent of Direct Selling entities to display/sell products on their platform in compliance with clause 7(6).
- Unconsented use of the mark by sellers and platforms is violative of Plaintiff’s trademark rights as well as passing off including Dilution. No defense is available under section 30.
- For safe harbor provisions to apply under section 79 of the IT Act and Guidelines of 2011, it is imperative that the due diligence requirements are fulfilled by the claiming platforms, in absence of which, such safe harbor would not be available.
- The E-commerce platform must ensure that it is not inducing a breach of contract or a tortious wrong and they must ensure proper remedy for a such a violation on its platform. Offering a refuge to sell outdated products, expired and damaged products by the seller on their platform is in itself an inducement of infringement and quality control must be present. Continued sale of infringing products without due diligence and quality check as well as consent, amounts to inducement of breach of contract and tortious interference with contractual relationship of plaintiffs with their distributors. (Judgement)
This decision has been challenged by Amazon in the Supreme Court of India.
DELHI HIGH COURT RULES THAT ONLINE INTERMEDIARIES ARE LIABLE TO PULL DOWN INFRINGING CONTENT AS AND WHEN BROUGHT TO THEIR NOTICE
In a trademark infringement suit by the owner of the mark ‘Da Milano’ against online advertisements that were illegally using the Da Milano trademark, the trial court had sought the presence of Facebook and Instagram in the matter. This prompted the intermediaries to approach the Delhi High Court seeking exemption from personal appearance before the trial court.
The Delhi High Court, in a trademark infringement suit filed by the owner of the mark ‘Da Milano’ against online advertisements that were illegally using the Da Milano trademark, reiterated that while online intermediaries may not perform an active role in the posting of infringing content, they would still be liable to pull down such content as and when it is brought to their notice., by the terms of Section 79(3) of the IT Act. Personal Appearance before the trial court has although been exempted. (order)
SUPREME COURT DIRECTS MINISTRY OF ELECTRONICS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (MEITY) TO FINALISE INTERMEDIARY GUIDELINES.
In the Facebook transfer case which is based on linking of AADHAR card with social media accounts and sharing of such information by the intermediaries with the law enforcing agency as and when the need for any such information required in investigation and detection of cyber-crime, the Supreme Court has directed the Government department to draft such Intermediary guidelines which address the issues raised in the petition.
The Central Government has to notify these Intermediary guidelines by January 15, 2020. Read order here.
KERALA HIGH COURT ISSUES NOTICE IN PLEA SEEKING A BAN ON TELEGRAM APP
Major concerns regarding misuse of application ‘Telegram’ due to poor governmental control over it were put to the notice of the Kerala High Court. A dreadful concern was highlighted by the petitioner about how the App has no governmental control or nodal officer or registered office in India, which is one of the significant reasons for the increase in crime rate via the said App. The prime reason for the same being the high level of anonymity enjoyed on the app. Recent reports had been mentioned by the petitioner which involve the use of Telegram to commit the mischiefs such as child pornography, grooming children for sexual abuse, obscene videos of women being circulated, use of the app after pornography ban, to name a few. The Kerala High Court (HC) on October 4 directed the central government to file their response on the same.
MAKEMYTRIP SUES EASEMYTRIP OVER GOOGLE AD-WORD
MakeMyTrip “MMT” had 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 was 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. 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.
SUBODH GUPTA SEEKS RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN ON THE INTERNET
A civil defamation suit for a token damage of Rs.5 crore from operator of an anonymous Instagram Account had been filed by Indian artist Subodh Gupta. In an order dated September 18, the Delhi High Court had ordered Facebook, Google, Instagram to remove all posts, search results and contents containing defamatory content on sexual harassment allegations against Gupta. The court held that allegations cannot be permitted to be made in public domain without being backed up by legal recourse, the same if permitted would be capable of mischief. The order contains blocking or removal of the list of URLs or web links mentioned in the order.
While Facebook diligently followed the courts order, Google resisted any attempts to control the content as that would have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression and be against public interest. The matter has further been listed on 22nd January 2020.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA DENIES RELIEF TO GOOGLE IN CRIMINAL DEFAMATION PROCEEDINGS
In its judgement delivered on December 10, 2019, the Supreme Court denied quashing defamation proceedings against Google for its failure to expeditiously remove allegedly defamatory material from its ‘Google Group’ service. The case goes on to hold that online intermediaries may be liable as a ‘publisher’ in criminal defamation proceedings under the Indian Penal Code. Visakha had previously, sent a notice to Google India, demanding the takedown of defamatory content (but not providing the URLs of the content), which was forwarded to Google Inc. for action. Google Inc. wrote back to the complainant asking for specific URL’s. A major concern in this case was that the allegation was with respect to an action which came into being prior to the Amendment of the IT act which brought in safe harbour provisions under the IT Act, notwithstanding any other act. Prior to this act, this protection was applicable only to act in violation of the IT act, and nit concerned with the violation of the IPC, in specificity section 499 of the code. The Court also importantly went on to define the ambit of defamatory publication, for the purposes of Intermediaries and an action under Section 499 of the IPC, stating that, there may be publication within the meaning of Section 499 of the IPC even in the case of an internet operator, if it has the power and the right and the ability to remove a matter, upon being called upon to do so, and there is a refusal of the same. The question of whether a request for URL is a refusal or not, was not addressed. This judgment would not be applicable, however in cases covering criminal liability post the amendment to the IT Act, however the scope and ambit of the meaning of publication holds complete relevance.
GURGAON COURT DISMISSED THE REQUIREMENT OF SUBMITTING URL’S FOR A TAKEDOWN OF CONTENT BY INTERMEDIARIES IN THE CASE OF A COPYRIGHT VIOLATION
After an eight year-long copyright battle, Suneel Darshan, proprietor of the Shree Krishna International film production company, has won a copyright infringement suit against Google India and YouTube LLC. The District court of Gurgaon has awarded damages of Rs. 50,000 in favor of the production company and has restrained Google and YouTube from displaying the disputed content on its platform. The court has been reported to have noted that the defendant (YouTube) was supposed to take down the content after being informed of the supposed infringement by the plaintiffs to be immune from secondary liability, under the Information Technology Act and Rules thereunder, however the stance of the defendant stating that the proper take-down request procedure, with specifications of the specific URL’s which are being claimed to have been infringing, was not complied with or produced, is not sufficient to render this claim of infringement invalid. The court has also reportedly stated that the defendant by virtue of being aware of the title of the content had the burden upon itself to locate the URL’s and take down the allegedly infringing content. This rationale is contrary to the holding of URL as a location indicator to be provided under the My Space judgment as well as Rule 75 of the IT Rules. The decision, as can be found herein, has been appealed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and has been prima-facie admitted by the bench. The HC has admitted the matter and put it for listing within six months ordering “no coercive steps” in furtherance of the impugned judgment to be taken, effectively granted a stay in the interim. The copy of the order can be found here.
DELHI HC ISSUES A GLOBAL BLOCKING ORDER AGAINST INTERMEDIARIES UNDER SECTION 79 OF THE IT ACT
On October 23, a single judge of the Delhi High Court issued an interim injunction directing Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other unnamed intermediaries to take down on a global basis, defamatory content uploaded on their platforms against Baba Ramdev. This is a first in the Indian Jurisprudence which goes against the traditional norm of Geo-blocking. It revolves around the book “Godman to Tycoon: the untold story of Baba Ramdev”. This book was subsequently restrained from distribution and certain offending portions to Baba Ramdev, were directed to be deleted, as an interim measure in a civil suit for defamation. This judgment is with respect to certain videos uploaded on the intermediary platforms which are a result of those offending portions, restrained from existence in the interim of the pendency of the civil suit. Although the intermediaries were willing to carry out geo-blocking thereby limiting accessibility of offending content in India, Ramdev argued that this was an ineffective solution. This is because internet users in India could still access such content using VPNs and other mechanisms. Thus, the only effective remedy was to issue a global blocking order, submitted Ramdev. The court went on to hold that since the uploading took place in India, or the information/data is located in India on a computer resource, Indian courts have jurisdiction to not only geo-block rather further go on and pass global injunctions. This was exactly which was done in this case, to meet up the evolving race with technology, and avoid circulation of defamatory content (even prima facie determined by the court) being accessed through a VPN. This decision was challenged before a division bench, which refused to order a stay.
TIKTOK OWNER BYTEDANCE TO ESTABLISH LOCAL DATA CENTRES FOR INDIAN USERS
Chinese Internet technology company, Bytedance, has announced plans to establish local data centres in India. Bytedance is the company behind popular social media platforms TikTok and Helo. The company was recently issued a notice for these apps, by the Indian government, for allegedly misusing the platforms for “anti-national activities”. The move would be in line with the Indian government’s efforts towards data localization for user data gathered from India by various companies.
HURTING RELIGIOUS AND OTHER SENTIMENTS
SUPREME COURT DISMISSES PETITION FILED BY BRAHMAN SAMAJ TO BAN THE FILM ‘ARTICLE 15’
Brahman Samaj of India, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the certification granted to the film ‘Article 15’ and claiming that the title of the film is a misuse of the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and is in violation of Section 3 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and that the film would spread caste hatred which remarkably violates and diminish the true spirit of Article 15 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court refused to grant any stay on the film.
SHIV SENA MEMBER FILES A POLICE COMPLAINT AGAINST NETFLIX ACCUSING IT FOR ‘DEFAMING’ HINDUS AND INDIA GLOBALLY.
Shiv Sena member Mr. Ramesh Solanki filed a police complaint in LT Marg Police Station against Netflix alleging that the online video streaming service is defaming Hindus and India through its shows. He has cited examples of series such as ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Ghoul’, ‘Laila’ and standup comedy show of Hasan Minhaj to support his complaint and accused the online streaming services of ‘trying to paint an incorrect picture of India and Hindus globally’. Mr. Solanki has urged the authorities, through his complaint, to take necessary steps such as cancelling of licenses in order to stop the online streaming service from trying to defame the religious minority of Hindus in countries other than India on the basis of ‘bogus rhetoric’. He has also urged the authorities to take necessary legal actions for hurting Hindu sentiments.
TITLE OF VARUN TEJ’S FILM CHANGED FROM ‘VALMIKI’ TO ‘GADDHALAKONDA GANESH’ AFTER PROTESTS FROM GROUPS
After protests from the Boya community, who objected to the title of Varun Tej’s Valmiki, the film’s title has been changed to Gaddhalakonda Ganesh, just a day before the film’s release. The title was changed after some groups from the Boya community threatened to protest in Anantapur and Kurnool districts, following which the district collectors had sought the filmmakers to resolve the issue.
PESHWA BAJIRAO’S DESCENDANT SENDS LEGAL NOTICE TO MAKERS OF THE FILM ‘PANIPAT’ OVER KRITI SANON’S DIALOGUE
Descendant of Peshwa Bajirao has taken objection over Kriti Sanon’s dialogue in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s upcoming directorial venture ‘Panipat’. In the film, Kriti plays Arjun Kapoor’s wife, Parvatibai and in the trailer, before Arjun is leaving for the battle, she says, “Maine suna hai Peshwa jab akele muhim par jaate hain to ek Mastani ke saath laut te hain (I have heard whenever Peshwa leaves for a battle alone, he returns with a Mastani).”
SALMAN KHAN’S DABANGG 3 LANDS IN CONTROVERSY AS A HINDU OUTFIT DEMANDS CBFC TO HALT FILM’S CERTIFICATION
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti demanded CBFC to halt the certification of the film Dabangg 3 as the title track of the film, Hud Hud Dabangg, according to them hurt the sentiments of Hindus as the makers have degraded the image of Sadhus by showing them dancing with Salman Khan on the river banks. They also had the objection where Salman Khan is seeking blessings from the three characters dressed as the holy trinity – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma in the scenes.
DELHI HIGH COURT DIRECTS CBFC TO CONSIDER THE PETITION AGAINST AJAY DEVGN’S TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR FOR DISTORTING FACTS
In a petition filed by the Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Koli Rajput Sangh against the film Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior a film starring Actors Ajay Devgn and Kajol, the petitioners claimed that the director has tried to ‘conceal’ the lineage of great warrior Tanaji Malusare in the film. The Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Koli Rajput Sangh demanded the Delhi High Court to direct the CBFC to take an action instructing the director to show the correct lineage of Tanaji. The petitioner further requested the court to ask CBFC not to grant a clearance certificate to the film until the correct lineage of Tanhaji is shown in the film. The Delhi High Court vide its order dated December 19, 2019 directed the CBFC to consider the contents of the present petition as a representation while considering the certification to be granted to the Film in question and accordingly disposed of the petition. Read order here.
KARNATAKA HIGH COURT REFUSES TO STAY RELEASE OF THE FILM ‘GOOD NEWWZ’ IN A PIL FILED AGAINST THE FILM
In a Public Interest Litigation filed by one Mr. Sameem Raza against the Central Board of Film Certification and others, the division bench of the High Court of Karnataka presided by Hon’ble Justice Krishna S Dixit and Hon’ble Justice M. Nagaprasanna refused to grant stay on the release of the film ‘Good Newwz’ starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljeet Dosanjh, Kiara Advani and others. The grievance of the petitioner was that the contents of the film are trying to create confusion in the mind of patients who have already taken the service of assisted pregnancy in the centers other than Indira IVF centers and is bound to create confusion regarding paternity of the child of a patient and the same may affect such families. After hearing the arguments of the parties, the court refused to grant any stay on the release of the film and posted the matter for further hearing on first week of January, 2020.
ANDHRA PRADESH HIGH COURT STAYS RELEASE OF RGV’S FILM ‘LAKSHMI’S NTR’ ON THE EVE OF ITS RELEASE
The Andhra Pradesh High Court on March 28, 2019 stayed the release of the movie “Lakshmi’s NTR” till April 3. The order came a day before the release of the film. The court adjourned further hearing on petitions filed by two individuals till April 3. The producer was directed to arrange special screening of the movie in the judge’s chamber to enable him to take a final view in the presence of lawyers from both sides. The petitioners sought direction to stop the release of the movie till the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections on April 11. The petitioner complained that the film has portrayed TDP President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in a negative light, which could influence voters.The Election Commission passed an Order on 10th April, 2019 restricting the exhibition of the Film until further orders. Ram Gopal Varma and Rakesh Reddy were both detained by the Vijaywada city police and sent back to the airport, after attempting to promote the Film by calling for a press release at NTR circle in the city, ahead of its release. Three theatres in Andhra Pradesh were also seized for screening the film against the court order in May. The Producer, Rakesh Reddy approached the SC, challenging the stay order of the Andhra HC on the Film. It was the claim of the Producer that the Film had been cleared by CBFC as well as that it was not made by a person having political patronage. The SC Order dismissing the petition can be found here. The Film finally released on 1st June, 2019, in Andhra Pradesh, after the Model Code of Conduct was lifted on account of the election period coming to an end.
BUSINESSMAN FILES PIL AGAINST RGV’S ‘KAMMA RAJYAMLO KADAPA REDLU’ MOVIE IN TELANGANA HIGH COURT
A businessman had approached the Telangana High Court on 26th November seeking direction to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) not to issue censor certificate to Ram Gopal Varma directed Telugu movie Kamma Rajyamlo Kadapa Redlu. Petitioner M. Indrasena Chowdary filed the petition on the ground that the trailers of the movie that had been circulated in social media had content which was humiliating and insulting the Kamma community. The film also had roles similar to real life personalities like former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, his son N. Lokesh, and Tollywood star Pawan Kalyan. The petitioner alleged that the movie depicted that the director and producer of the film wanted to defame the Kamma community. The petitioner while mentioning a song ‘Pappu Laanti Abbayi’, whose trailer got widely circulated in the social media, said that it was aimed at Mr. Chandrababu Naidu and his son Lokesh. He further added that the song would show them in poor light, and amounted to humiliation. He informed the court that a memorandum was already submitted to the CBFC not to issue censor certificate to the film, and not to allow its release in theatres or social media platforms. As per reports, the Telangana High Court has stalled the release of Ram Gopal Varma’s latest film Kamma Raajyamlo Kadapa Redlu. While the political satire was scheduled for a worldwide release on November 29, the High Court ordered the Censor Board (CBFC) to take a week’s time, watch the film, take all the objections into consideration and then, award a censor certificate. It also instructed the director to change its title and forward the film for censor.
Another petition against the film was filed by Christian evangelist, K.A. Paul, who claimed that he was insulted in a comic scene in the Film.
The CBFC cleared the Film with a U/A certificate after Ram Gopal Varma changed the title of the Film to ‘Amma Rajyamlo Kadapa Biddalu’. The clearance was given and demanded minor revisions such as, to change (or mute) some words, among them, Kamma Rajyam to Amma Rajyam, and Kadapa Reddlu to Kadapa Biddalu. It also suggested removal of references to YS Jaganmohan Reddy and Vijay Mallya. The Film finally released on 12th December.
OTT PLATFORMS SIGN IAMAI CODE FOR SELF REGULATION
Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio, Zee5, AltBalaji, Sony-Liv, Viacom 18, Arre are some of the online video streaming platforms who signed the Code on Self-Regulation drafted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). However, Amazon Prime Prime, TVF, Hungama, Yupp TV Google and Facebook seem to be missing from the list of signatories to the Code. Amazon Prime Video has not signed the code, though it had contributed in its draft as the Company does not want to act in the absence of the government-mandated regulation. The ‘Code for Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers’ (Code) drafted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) aims to act as guiding principles for Online Curated Content Providers (OCC Providers).
SUPREME COURT ASKS WEST BENGAL GOVT TO PAY INR 20 LAKHS COMPENSATION TO PRODUCER OF BENGALI FILM “BHOBHISHYOTER BHOOT” WHICH SUFFERED UNOFFICIAL BAN
The Supreme Court bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta on April 11, 2019 passed a landmark judgement directing West Bengal Government to pay compensation of INR 20 lakhs to the producer of the film “Bhobhishyoter Bhoot”, which had to face an “unofficial” ban in the state. Justice Chandrachud and Justice Gupta had deliberated on the matter stating that “once a movie is certified by (the) Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), it is not open to any authority to issue formal or informal directions preventing the producer from having the movie screened”.
SUPREME COURT DISMISSES PLEA FILED BY MAKERS OF THE BIOPIC ON PM NARENDRA MODI
The Supreme Court on April 26 dismissed the petition filed by the producers of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi challenging the decision of the Election Commission to ban the film until the Lok Sabha elections are over. The Election Commission had directed “ That any biopic material in the nature of biography/ hagiography sub-serving the purposes of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media including cinematograph during the operation of MCC”. The producers of the film challenged this decision of the EC before the Apex Court. On April 15, the Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to watch the biopic on Prime minister Narendra Modi and submit a report in a sealed cover. Th EC was also told to give its opinion on whether the broadcast of the movie ought to be put on hold till the Lok Sabha elections are over. In its report to the Court, the EC once again opined that the film should be shelved during the election season. The court was not inclined to interfere with this decision of the EC.
The Election Commission on April 20, 2019 also issued a notice to Eros Now, the digital platform streaming the web series titled “Modi-Journey of a Common Man”, directing them to immediately stop the online streaming and remove all connected content of the web series until further orders.
Likewise, the Election Commission initiated steps to ensure the removal of the trailer of the film “Bhagini” alleged to be a biopic on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee as they found the trailer to be in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
BANNED FOR HOSTING PORN, TIKTOK CITES DAMAGE TO FREE SPEECH IN ITS APPEAL TO INDIA’S SUPREME COURT
ByteDance, the Chinese publisher which owns the app TikTok had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court order imposing a ban on the App. In its petition, Bytedance states that ban “amounts to curtailing of the rights of the citizens of India”. The plea will be heard on April 15 before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna. The court had earlier refused the ‘urgent listing’ of the same plea on April 8.
MADRAS HIGH COURT VACATES THE BAN ON TIKTOK IN INDIA
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court vacated the ban on Tik Tok in India imposed by it earlier, on the condition that sexually explicit material will not be uploaded to the platform and that it will address any content-related complaint in three to 36 hours, failing which contempt of court proceedings would begin. On 22nd April the apex court directed to the Madras High Court to decide on the question of interim relief for TikTok, and in failing to do so would render the interim order as null and void. Amicus Curie to the Court Adv Arvind Datar submitted to the court that banning the app is not the solution and that the rights of the legitimate user must be protected. The argument was raised on the backdrop of Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India, that the ban is a violation of online free speech guaranteed as a fundamental right. On 3rd April, the Madurai bench passed an ex-parte order directing the Government to ban the popular application. It had observed that the application is dangerous for children in view of inappropriate contents including language and pornography being posted in the application. Later, Bytedance (India) Technology Pvt. Ltd., which owns the mobile application, filed a special leave petition against the Madurai bench order directing the Government to ban the application. The Apex Court had referred the matter back to the Madras High Court.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT ASKS THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW THE ONLINE GAME PUBG
The Bombay High Court on April 12 asked the Central Government to review the online game ‘Player Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) and decide if regulatory guidelines have to be issued to internet service providers. The bench comprising of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Nitin Jamdar was hearing a PIL filed by a student Ahad Nizam through hismother where he argued that the game promotes violence and aggression and the players use expletives.
SUPREME COURT ISSUES NOTICE IN PLEA SEEKING REGULATION OF CONTENT ON ONLINE STREAMING PLATFORMS
The Supreme Court bench presided by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjiv Khanna has issued notice in a petition calling for regulation of content on online streaming platforms like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime etc.
The appeal was filed against the decision of Delhi HC, which had dismissed the PIL filed by the NGO Justice for Rights. The NGO claimed that online media streaming platforms show content which is “unregulated and uncertified” for public viewing.
The High Court bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao rejected the petition after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed it that online platforms are not required to obtain any licence from the ministry.
DELHI HIGH COURT REJECTS PLEA SEEKING STAY ON THE RELEASE OF SALMAN KHAN’S MOVIE ‘BHARAT’
The Delhi High Court rejected a public interest litigation filed by Vikas Tyagi against ‘Bharat’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. As per his contentions the name of the movie is in contravention to Section 3 of The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. He claimed that the movie can’t be released as the name ‘Bharat’ is being used for trade, business or professional purposes. The petition condemned the usage of the name ‘Bharat’ since as per Article 1(1) of the Constitution of India, Bharat is the official name of our country. Petitioner stated that being a Bharatiya himself he is not comfortable with such a “flippant character” associating himself with such a name since the trailer displays “Salman’s typical flippancy and vulgarity”. He called the movie a “shameless cunning stratagem to encash the deep-rooted feeling for our country”. He requested that there be a change in any dialogues mentioning ‘Bharat’ and also alter any scenes depicting a comparison between the country and Salman’s character. A vacation bench consisting of Justices JR Midha and Chander Shekhar criticized the move by the petitioner of circulating the petition with media houses prior to actually filing it before the court, as well as for filing such a case without watching the movie himself. The court viewed the trailer and found no merit in the petitioner’s plea and dismissed it.
I&B MINISTRY CAUTIONS CHANNELS OVER PORTRAYAL OF CHILDREN IN DANCE REALITY SHOWS
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has cautioned private satellites from telecasting dance reality shows and other shows which portray children in obscene, vulgar or evocative fashion. The ministry noticed that children are shown dancing performing age-inappropriate dance moves which may negatively impact or distress the children. The ministry, while issuing the advisory, expects all TV channels observe the Rule 6(1)(l) and 6(4) of the Programme Code which prohibits channels from telecasting content that denigrates children in any manner and not showcase any vulgar language or violent scenes in programmes which are meant for children and for the channels to show maximum caution and mindfulness while televising reality TV shows.
KERALA HC ALLOWS SCREENING OF A DOCUMENTARY FILM ‘REASON/VIVEK’ IN FILM FESTIVAL BY ANAND PATWARDHAN
Overruling the objections raised by the Centre, the High Court of Kerala has passed an order to allow the screening of ‘Reason/Vivek’ a documentary film by Anand Patwardhan at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival at Thiruvananthapuram. The court observed that the apprehension of it might affecting law and order is not a valid reason to withhold sanction, the court further held that the documentary to be solely screened at the festival only. Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the organizer of the festival, against the refusal of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting filed a writ petition in Kerala HC. The Documentary explores the rise of religious fundamentalism in India in the backdrop of murder of leaders and rationalist such as Govind Pansare, Gauri Lankesh, M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar etc.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT DIRECTS CBFC FOR RE-CERTIFICATION OF THE FILM TITLED ‘CHIDIAKHANA’.
The Bombay High Court directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to consider the children’s movie ‘Chidiakhana’ for fresh certification, after the filmmakers have made the modifications to the movie according to the standards required to be eligible for ‘U’ certification. CBFC had granted the aforementioned movie a U/A certificate, against which the filmmakers had approached the Court on the ground that the movie was a children’s movie and hence U certificate should be granted. The film included objectionable scenes and abusive words and therefore, CBFC had given the U/A certification. CBFC agreed to revise it to a U certification only if the filmmakers deleted the objectionable content. The filmmaker agreed to mute an abusive word, delete a scene and apply for fresh certification for which two weeks were granted by the Court. The Bombay High Court, directed CBFC to consider the movie for fresh certification, when submitted by the filmmaker without being influenced from its previous decision.
PUNJAB WOMEN COMMISSION DEMANDS BAN ON RAPPER HONEY SINGH’S UPCOMING SONG.
The Punjab Women Commission panel has taken a strong action against Contoversial Rapper Honey Singh for his upcoming song ‘ Makhana’ in Siddharth Malhotra starrer ‘Marjawa’ due to vulgar and irreverent language used for Women. They have send a letter to Punjab government, Director General of Police and home secretary to take action against this song. The Committee is hopeful of setting a benchmark so singers and songwriters do not make songs that disrespect women and get superior authorities support like State Government.
DELHI HIGH COURT DISMISSES PLEA TO QUASH 6AM-10PM BAN ON CONDOM ADVERTISEMENTS ON TV-
The Delhi High Court on July 8 dismissed a plea seeking quashing of the Centre’s notification banning telecast of condom advertisements between 6.00 am to 10.00 pm, saying it was not going to interfere with a “conscious policy decision” of the government. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the court will be “extremely slow in interfering with a policy of the government” unless it was violating the Constitution or any other law. The court further said it has “no expert knowledge” about the issue and there was “no violation of the Constitution or any other law in force” by the government’s decision. “It is a conscious policy decision of the government. We see no reason to interfere with it,” the bench said, dismissing the petition challenging the Centre’s December 11, 2017 notification by which condom advertisements were banned between 6.00 am to 10.00 pm. The petitioner, Sarita Barpanda had stated that the ban on the advertisement is unjust and was done without any legal provision as the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994. Barpanda also suggested setting up of a Committee to review such advertisements on case-to- case basis and make a differentiation between good and bad advertisements.
I&B MINISTRY HOLDS MEETING FOR DISCUSSION ON CONTENT REGULATION ON OTT PLATFORMS
On October 11, the I&B Ministry held a meeting in Mumbai with OTT stakeholders to discuss regulation and certification for streaming platforms. The meeting was attended by representatives of almost all OTT platforms. The ministry, at the meeting, clarified that it is currently taking legal, commercial and civil society’s view into account to zero down on the requirement of the industry — norm, law or just a set of guidelines. The ministry officials also said that it is waiting for the industry to unite on the certification issue, before I&B can take the next step. This was in reference to the self-regulatory Code of Best Practice, under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), signed by only eight major players in the OTT domain. Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji, Netflix and Eros Now had stepped forward to practice self-regulation, whereas Google, Facebook and Amazon Prime did not sign the policy.
MISUSE OF NATIONAL EMBLEMS TO BE PUNISHED BY JAIL, RS 5 LAKH FINE
The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, is an Act which restricts the use of the national flag, the coat-of-arms used by a government department, the official seal of the President or Governor, the pictorial representation of Mahatma Gandhi and the Prime Minister, and the Ashoka Chakra. The government has proposed increasing the fine for illegal and improper use of national emblems for commercial gains from Rs 500 to Rs 1 lakh — the suggested change also includes jail time and a fine of Rs 5 lakh for repeat offenders, in an attempt to bring down on their misuse. The other change being considered is that in case there is a prosecution, the burden to prove that the alleged contravention or alteration was lawfully authorized shall be on the violator as of now, that burden to prove the same is on the state. The Department of Consumer Affairs has placed its recommendations to amend the law on its official website and invited public views till December 20. Under section 3 of the Act no person can commercially use any government trademark or design, name, emblem, official seal or pictorial representation or any colourable imitation of the same, without Centre’s previous permission. The law is applicable to Indian citizens living abroad too.
CBFC OBJECTS TO THE TITLE OF EMRAAN HASHMI’s MOVIE TITLED CHEAT INDIA
Owing to the objection raised by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Producer of Emraan Hashmi’s movie titled ‘Cheat India’ decided to change their movie title to ‘Why Cheat India’. Just a week left for the movie to release, this decision was made after CBFC’s Examining Committee felt that the title was misleading in the context of the film. The decision of the Examining Committee was also echoed by the Revising Committee which was referred after the Producers contended that the title ‘Cheat India’ has been in the public knowledge for two years.
YOUTUBE REMOVES VIDEO LINKS OF IAF COMMANDER AFTER REQUEST FROM THE IT MINISTRY
Google-owned Youtube removed 11 objectionable video links of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, after a request from the IT Ministry. An IT Ministry official stated that, following a directive from the Home Ministry, it had asked Youtube to remove the clips of the pilot, who was captured by the Pakistany Army during an air combat. The videos were being released on the Internet and were being shared across social media platforms like Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook. A Google spokesperson stated that wherever possible, valid legal requests from authorities are complied with and also added that the data on government requests to remove content from Google services is updated periodically in their transparency report.
MINISTRY LAYS DOWN NEW NORMS FOR TEMPORARY UPLINKING APPLICATIONS FOR LIVE COVERAGE OF NON-NEWS
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) vide order dated January 11, 2019 has laid down new norms for temporary uplinking applications for live coverage of events on non-news and current affairs TV channels. The order states that now only those channels and teleport operators that had previously been allowed by the MIB will be eligible to apply for temporary permits for live coverage of events. The notice has been issued with immediate effect.
DELHI HC DISMISSES PLEA SEEKING BAN ON ONLINE PLATFORMS INCLUDING NETFLIX, AMAZON PRIME
The Delhi High Court vide order dated February 8, 2019 dismissed a petition filed by NGO‘Justice for Rights’, which sought formulation of guidelines for regulation of content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. The PIL, filed in October 2018, claimed that the content on such platforms was inappropriate, sexually explicit, religiously forbidden and legally restricted.
Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao passed the order after they were informed by the Central Government that a license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was not required to be obtained by the online platforms and also that its content was not regulated by it. Further, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology clarified that content on the internet was subject to regulation as per Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, however, online platforms did not fall within the purview of this section.
While dismissing the plea, the Court observed that as such platforms did not necessarily need to acquire a license under law, it cannot direct them to get one. It also further directed the petitioner to pursue the FIR that it had filed on the issue instead.
UNION CABINET APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO CINEMATOGRAPH ACT TO COMBAT FILM PIRACY AND IMPOSE STRICT PENALTIES
On February 6, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The Bill aims to tackle film piracy by including penal provisions for unauthorised camcording and duplication of films by making it a legal offence.
The I&B Ministry, in order to check film piracy, proposed for the inclusion of a new Sub-Section (4) of Section 7 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 which would provide for imprisonment up to three years and fines that may extend to Rs.10 lakhs or both for the offender. The proposed amendments also state that “any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.”
A statement from the ministry said that the proposed amendments would help to increase industry revenues, boost job creation and give relief against piracy and infringing content online.
I&B MINISTRY REQUESTS TV CHANNELS TO MAKE ALL SHOWS PwD FRIENDLY WITH SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETATION
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry on February 7, 2019 requested all private satellite TV channels to carry TV programmes with sign language interpretation for accessing by differently abled people. The MIB letter mentions the concerns raised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DOEPwD) in the past regarding formulation of Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) for achieving universal accessibility for persons with disabilities which had stressed that access to TV programmes for many persons with disabilities is denied due to lack of assistive technology. The MIB advisory of June 13, 2016 had requested all TV channels, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India (ARTBI) to carry the same language captions and audio description along with the programmes and news reports by TV channels for accessing by persons with disabilities.
PANELS SET UP TO MONITOR TV PROGRAMMES, STATE TELLS HC
In a Public Interest Litigation led by Geeta Mishra seeking for enforcement of provisions of Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act, the Karnataka State Government has filed an affidavit stating that the state government established a control room working 24×7 at its headquarters. It also provided an e-mail id (firstname.lastname@example.org). An exclusive landline and mobile number were also provided to the public to register their complaints. The state government of Karnataka informed the High Court that it has Constituted committees to monitor the contents of programmes on television channels. The department of Information and Public Relations filed the affidavit before the division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur, on steps taken to implement the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. Read the affidavit here.
KARNATAKA HIGH COURT RULES THAT ONLINE CONTENT CANNOT BE REGULATED UNDER THE CINEMATOGRAPH ACT
The Karnataka High Court in the matter of Padmanabh Shankar vs Union of India & Ors, vide its judgement dated August 7, 2019 ruled that online content cannot be regulated under the Cinematograph Act. Read judgement here. The issue before the court was whether the transmission or broadcast of any films, cinemas or serials and other multimedia content through the internet will come within the definition of ‘cinematograph’ under clause (c) of Section 2 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952? The Court held that The Cinematograph Act, 1952 applies to films within the meaning of cause 2(dd) of the Act. The Cinematograph is an equipment which includes a camera which creates a film and the machine which exhibits or display a film. A video is recording of moving images and their recording is made digitally or in the form of digital files. Therefore, a video film or a video compact disc is included in Section 2 (c) of the Act.
PRIVACY AND PERSONALITY RIGHTS
‘THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINSTER’ – MULTIPLE CASES FILED- FILM RELEASES
Petitions were filed in several courts against release of the film ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’. Pooja Mahajan, a Delhi based fashion designer moved the Delhi High Court against the film ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’. In first instance, the petition of Delhi based fashion designer Pooja Mahajan was dismissed by the Delhi High Court vide order dated January 7, 2019 without even going into the merits of the case. The petition was disposed by Single Judge Justice Vibhu Bakhru as it was noticed that the petitioner had “no personal interest” in the matter and was filing the petition in public interest. Justice Vibhu Bakhru asked the petitioner to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which would be listed before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. Thereafter, a PIL was filed by Pooja Mahajan before the Delhi High Court. However, the Delhi High Court Division Bench vide order dated January 9, 2019 comprising of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao again dismissed the PIL filed by Pooja Mahajan on the ground that the petitioner had no locus standi. Pooja Mahajan then filed a plea in Supreme Court against the movie which was denied urgent hearing. The petitioner contended that movie ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ was in violation of Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 read with Rule 38 of the Cinematographic (Certification) Rules, 1983. The petitioner also claimed that the movie violated Section 416 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which makes impersonation of living persons impermissible in law.
DELHI HIGH COURT ALLOWS RELEASE OF THE FILM “BATLA HOUSE” SUBJECT TO DELETION OF CERTAIN SCENES.
The Delhi High Court vide order dated August 13, 2019 permitted the release of the John Abraham starrer movie Batla House, directed by Nikhil Advani, subject to a strong disclaimer and certain modifications in the film. The movie faced opposition from Ariz Khan and Shehzad Khan, who are accused in the Batla House encounter case. They objected release of the movie, by way of a petition in Delhi High Court, stating that the movie is likely to prejudice their trial as it is shown to be inspired from true events. They sought postponement of release of the movie until the pending cases involving the accused are resolved. After the detailed arguments presented by both the parties and after the accused were given an opportunity to watch the movie, the Court directed the filmmaker, to carry out deletion of few scenes and certain other modifications which address the concern of fair trial of the accused, after which the movie could be released.
AFGHAN EMBASSY RAISES CONCERN OVER THE PORTRAYAL OF AHMAD SHAH ABDALI IN ASHUTOSH GOWARIKAR’S UPCOMING FIM ‘PANIPAT’
Fearing misrepresentation of former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s upcoming Bollywood period drama Panipat, the Embassy of Afghanistan has expressed concerns to New Delhi and sought a meeting with Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar over the issue. “Since the film is related to former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali, any insensitive/ distorted depiction of his character might provoke emotions of Afghans which could be unfairly exploited by others to adversely affect the trust and harmony that exists so well among the people of two countries,” part of the letter reportedly read.
KARNATAKA HIGH COURT REFUSES TO STAY RELEASE OF THE KANNADA FILM ‘CHAMBAL’
The Karnataka High Court on February 21, 2019 refused to stay the release of the Kannada film ‘Chambal’. The plea was filed by parents of Late IAD officer DK Ravi, claiming that the film maligned the image of their son. Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav said that no grounds have been made for grant of interim relief at this stage. He however directed the producers/ distributors to submit a CD/ DVD of the film with the court’s registry on Feb 24. The Court also asked the CBFC to submit tis stand on the issue by the next date of hearing. ASG C Shashikantha who appeared for the Central Government and CBFC ingormed the court that the certification was granted on November 30, 2018 and no allegation or complaint was made against the film or claim over depiction of Ravi’s character.
MADRAS HIGH COURT REFUSES TO STAY RELEASE OF ALLEGED BIOPIC ON JAYALALITHA ‘QUEEN’ AND ‘THALAIVI’
In the suit filed by Late AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa Jayakumar, before the Madras High Court, seeking a stay on two in-production projects, allegedly based on the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s life –a film “Thalaivi” and a web series “Queen”- will tell the politician’s story, the Madras High Court has vide its order dated December 12, 2019 refused to grant any stay on the release of the two projects. Read order here. Read facts of the case here.
MADRAS HC REVERSES ORDER ON PLEA TO BAN QUEEN DURING LOCAL BODY POLLS
The Madras High Court reversed its decision on a PIL which sought to restrain the Gowtham Vasudev Menon’s web series Queen, a fictional rendition based on former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s life, until the completion of the local body elections in the State.
Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha deferred after the petitioner P.A. Joseph who claimed to be a businessman in his affidavit turned out to be the president of a daily wage labourers’ association at Koyambedu market. Senior counsel Satish Parasaran, representing the respondents told the court the that the PIL petitioner had also filed cases against Justice Arumughaswamy Commission which probed into the death of Jayalalithaa. Senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan, representing the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission, told the court that the commission would take a call on a representation made by the petitioner after ascertaining whether the web series was fictional and whether it would have any bearing on the polls. Read detailed post here.
PIL FILED BY KIN OF NARASIMHA REDDY TO STAY THE RELEASE OF THE BIOPIC MOVIE ‘SYE RAA’
Doravari Dastagiri Reddy and others who claim to be the legal fourth-generation heirs of the freedom fighter Narasimha Reddy, have filed a PIL seeking a direction against the filmmakers of the biopic titled ‘Sye Raa’ based on Narasimha Reddy and a direction for CBFC to not grant a certificate to the said movie. The kin have demanded to watch a preview of the film before its release and the royalty due shall also be paid before the release of the movie.
The filmmakers had met the kin and agreed to pay 10% remuneration for the kin of the total cost of making the movie as royalty, for using their family history, house and other articles in the film. The amount was promised to be paid before the release of Sye Raa’s trailer.
The petitioners allege that Rs 25,000/- was initially paid towards their travel expenses after which the producer and others from the film unit stopped attending their calls. They claimed a royalty of Rs.20,00,00,000/- from the filmmakers.
The matter was heard by Justice Abhinand Kumar wherein it was pointed that if the parties had an agreement to the effect of paying 10% of the cost of movie as royalty, the same had to be enforced in a civil court.
The filmmakers had already obtained an injunction against the Petitioners herein restraining them from interfering in release of the movie. They are also issuing a disclaimer that the film resembles none and that it is not a biopic.
The Telangana High Court Refused to grant a stay on the release of the film ‘Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy’ starring Chiranjeevi, the Court asked the petitioners as to how they seek to stall the release of a film citing a reason which relates to a civil dispute. Hence the PIL was dismissed. The film was released on 2nd of October, 2019.
SIVAKARTHIKEYAN’S ‘HERO’ RUNS INTO TROUBLE, INTERIM STAY ON RELEASE
TSR Films Private Limited petitioned the Madras HC on a matter of loan that was then directed to the Arbitration Centre under orders of the high court. In its petition, TSR Films had stated that it had loaned Rs 10 crore to 24 AM Studios Pvt Ltd. represented by RD Raja, D Prabhu and D Jaya Devi as per the loan agreement dated September 11, 2018.
The petition states, “If the movie is released without settlement of the loan to the applicant (TSR Films) it would cause severe prejudice to the applicant and the funds would disappear in thin air.” The petitioner has sought for an interim stay until the loan amount is returned along with the interest value based on the agreement.
Upon hearing the case, the judges panel passed an interim stay on the film’s release and scheduled the next hearing for December 2.
However, KJR Studios immediately responded to the news and issued a press release claiming that they are the sole producers of Hero. “We wish to caution general public that KJR Studios had no contact whatsoever with either 24 AM Productions or TSR Films Private Limited with regard to out movie Hero.” They have also warned severe action against TSR Films for involving their name in the issue. The production house also said that the film will release as per schedule on December 20 on Twitter.
The interim stay was lifted. Movie was released on the scheduled date. The movie is still in theaters and has been received well by the audiences. (Could not find any orders from the Madras High Court).
DELHI HIGH COURT ORDERS IN FAVOUR OF T-SERIES; FINDS PEWDIEPIE’S SONGS ON YOUTUBE RACIST AND DEROGATORY AND DIRECTS IMMEDIATE REMOVAL FROM YOUTUBE
The Delhi High Court passed an ex-parte injunction directing Youtube to remove and disable access to the songs ‘T-Series Diss Track/ Bitch Lasagna’ and ‘Congratulations’ and also ensure that the said videos do not get uploaded ever again on the Youtube platform. The Court found these videos to contain racist, defamatory, disparaging and offensive content particularly targeting T Series and Indians as a community.
PATIALA HOUSE COURT ORDERS STAY ON EX-ICICI BANK CEO CHANDA KOCHHAR’S BIOPIC:
Patiala House Court, Delhi stayed the release of a movie purportedly made on the life of former ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar without her consent. Additional District Judge Sandeep Garg passed the directions on a complaint filed by Kochhar’s lawyers, who claimed that the content of the film was “defamatory” as “it makes insinuations and judgments about the life of the plaintiff (Kochhar)”.
MARCIO LIMITED FILES SUIT AGAINST YOUTUBER FOR NASTY PARACHUTE OIL REVIEW
Marcio Limited, one of the leading consumer product companies in India, had filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against a Youtuber, Abhijeet Bhansali, for posting a video criticizing Parachute coconut oil. In the video, Bhansali stated that the Parachute coconut oil was of inferior quality in comparison with other organic cold pressed coconut oils and recommended against using the Parachute oil. Following the video, the Company sent a notice to Bhansali seeking its removal. Bhansali, in response, invoked the right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the constitution.
RANVEER SINGH ISSUED NOTICE FROM WWE WRESTLER BROCK LESNAR’S ADVOCATE PAUL HEYMAN
Brock Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman noticed when Ranveer Singh made use of Brock Lesnar’s popular punchline ‘Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Repeat.’ with a twist while captioning a picture with Hardik Pandya. Ranveer Singh’s caption, which read ‘Eat. Sleep. Dominate. Repeat.’, elicited an aggressive response from Heyman in which he threatened to sue for copyright infringement. Ranveer Singh was served with a legal notice soon after.
TENDULKAR SUES AUSTRALIAN BAT-MANUFACTURER FOR NON-PAYMENT OF $2 MILLION DUES
Sachin Tendulkar filed a civil lawsuit against Sydney-based Spartan Sports International in June claiming that the company had failed to honor their contract with him. Tendulkar’s civil suit accused Spartan of breach of contract as well as of “passing off” via deceptive conduct by using his endorsement even though the agreement had been terminated and he had retracted his endorsement. Tendulkar is seeking ‘substantial damages’ (up to 3 million AUD) from Spartan and cancellation of trade marks featuring Tendulkar’s silhouette. The case is expected to go ahead soon before the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney.
UP POLICE VISIT SONAKSHI SINHA’S HOUSE IN ALLEGED CHEATING CASE
A team of officials from the Uttar Pradesh Police visited the home of Bollywood actor Sonakshi Sinha in connection with a case of cheating filed against her in Moradabad last year by event organizer Pramod Sharma. The complainant’s case (registered under S. 420 and S. 406 of the Indian Penal Code) is that the actress failed to turn up for an event in New Delhi despite accepting a booking amount of Rs 24 lakhs. The UP Police, assisted by officials from the Juhu police station, went to Sonakshi Sinha’s home to record her statement in this regard but was unable to do so as the actor was not at home. Sonakshi however took to social media and refuted these claims by stating, “An event organizer who couldn’t live up to his commitment obviously thinks he can make a fast buck by maligning my crystal-clear image in the press.” Earlier this year, the Allahabad High Court had directed that Sinha will not be arrested till submission of report by police after complete investigation into the matter, though her attempts to have the FIR lodged against her quashed were refuted by the court.
KANGANA RANAUT SENDS LEGAL NOTICE TO ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST GUILD, PCI FOR ‘IMMORAL, UNETHICAL’ SUPPORT
Kangana Ranaut sent a legal notice to the committee members of Entertainment Journalist Guild and Press Council of India for supporting a journalist, who got involved in a spat with her during her film’s song launch. The legal notice was sent for “wrongful, immoral, unethical and illegal acts of lending support to a journalist Justin Rao, who is accused of indulging in unprofessional and illegal activities.” The notice claims that the EJG or PCI did not have the authority to ban Kangana, and accuses the said addressees of forming a cartel and being in violation of provisions of the Competition Act. The notice also mentioned various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Section 503 (Criminal Intimidation), Section 506, Section 499 (defamation), Section 383 (extortion), Section 384, and Section 385. The notice warned the addresses to “rectify all wrongs” done by them within 24 hours and that failing to do so will result in an action against them.
KOENA MITRA GETS SIX MONTHS’ JAIL IN CHEQUE-BOUNCING CASE
In an order passed on July 6, Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate’s court convicted actress Koena Mitra in a cheque-bouncing case and sentenced her to six months’ imprisonment. She was also asked to pay Rs. 4.64 lakh. The court was hearing a 2013 case filed by model Poonam Sethi, who alleged that Koena Mitra borrowed Rs. 22 lakh from her and failed to return the entire amount. The court noted that in repayment of the same, Koena gave Poonam a cheque for Rs. 3 lakh but this was dishonored by the bank. Subsequently, Poonam filed a complaint to initiate these proceedings under the Negotiable Instruments Act.
ACTOR PRAKASH RAJ GIVES A CHEQUE OF INR 2 CRORE TO ESSEL VISION.
Essel Vision Pvt. Ltd had filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against the production companies of the movie ‘Tadka’ for a breach of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the companies. Actor-director Prakash Raj was one of the defendants in the suit, due to his non-payment of Rs.5.88 crores as per the MoU. Raj finally presented a cheque of Rs.2 Crore to Essel Vision and the company agreed to give time till February 2020 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 and he was also warned that he would be sent to jail if such a situation were to arise.
(Read order here)
CALCUTTA HIGH COURT ASKS SHAH RUKH KHAN TO FILE AFFIDAVIT EXPLAINING HIS RELATION WITH IIPM
The Calcutta High Court on September 5, directed actor Shah Rukh Khan to file an affidavit to explain his relation with the Indian Institute of Planning and Management. A Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry was sought against the institute for allegedly misleading and duping students, with the West Bengal Police investigating the matter at the time. SRK has appeared in some of IIPM’s advertisements. The petitioners (students of the institute) claimed that they were impressed by the SRK’s advertisements where he promoted the institute and was shown to be its brand ambassador.
RAJASTHAN HIGH COURT ORDERS DISMISSING FRAUD COMPLAINT AGAINST PRODUCER BONEY KAPOOR
The Rajasthan High Court ordered the quashing of an FIR lodged against Bollywood film producer Boney Kapoor. The alleged victim, Praveen Shyam Sethi, had registered an FIR in June this year against Boney Kapoor, Mustafa Raj and the director of the Signature Cricket League — Pawan Jangid — for allegedly duping him in the name of unrealistic returns on his investment in the Celebrity Cricket League. The FIR was lodged after the complainant and his friend made a huge investment of Rs. 2.5 crores in the ‘Celebrity Cricket League’, which was eventually not organized. In his plea, Kapoor said that knowing Mustafa, he attended the press conference at his request but he never collected any money from him. The court, while announcing its verdict on September 20, quashed the FIR against Kapoor, but not against the other two accused.
YO YO HONEY SINGH, BHUSHAN KUMAR BOOKED BY PUNJAB POLICE FOR USE OF VULGAR LANGUAGE IN T-SERIES SONG MAKHNA
Singer Honey Singh and music-producer Bhushan Kumar were booked by Punjab Police in relation to the use of vulgar lyrics against women in their song ‘Makhna’. This action was prompted by a complaint lodged by the Punjab Women Commission against the song. Singh was booked under S. 294 (punishment for obscene song and acts) and S. 509 (punishment for word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
NON-BAILABLE WARRANT ISSUED AGAINST HONEY SNGH IN A CASE OF OBSCENE LYRICS
As per reports, a non-bailable warrant was issued against singer Yo Yo Honey Singh by a Lucknow court in a seven-year-old case lodged by IPS officer Amitabh Thakur. The FIR was lodged against Honey Singh on December 31, 2012, at the Gomti Nagar police station. The complainant claimed that the lyrics of the song, Main hoon balaatkari, sung by Honey Singh, were derogatory and condemnable. After investigation, the police registered a case against the singer in 2013, under S. 292, 293 and 294 of the IPC. However, in October, a court in Nagpur allowed Singh to travel abroad for his concerts spread over two months, despite the prosecution claiming that the singer has not been cooperative with the police in the ongoing probe.
FIR LODGED AGAINST 50 CELEBRITIES WHO WROTE LETTER TO PM MODI ON MOB LYNCHING
An FIR was lodged in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district against nearly 50 celebrities – including Ramachandra Guha and Anurag Kashyap – who had written an open letter to PM Modi raising concerns over the growing cases of mob lynching in the country. Advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha had filed a petition in this regard in the Chief Magistrate court, which after hearing the case ordered police to lodge an FIR against the celebrities. The FIR was lodged under provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to sedition, public nuisance, etc. However, the investigation was closed soon thereafter as the police revealed that the allegations against the accused ‘lacked substance’ and that the petitioner’s case was ‘maliciously false’.
TWO COMPLAINTS FILED IN DELHI AGAINST DIRECTOR ANURAG KASHYAP IN RELATION TO THE KADA SCENE IN NETFLIX ORIGINAL ‘SACRED GAMES’.
Two criminal complaints were filed against Anurag Kashyap (by BJP legislator, Manjinder Singh Sirsa and BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga) accusing him of disrespecting the religious sentiments of the Sikh community through a scene in his show Sacred Games. In the impugned scene, a Sikh character (played by Saif Ali Khan) threw his ‘Kada’, which is one of the five Kakaars revered by the Sikhs. The complainants asked for FIRs to be filed against Kashyap under various sections of the IPC (such as S. 295-A and S. 153-A) and IT Act.
RANCHI COURT ISSUES ARREST WARRANT IN CHEQUE BOUNCE CASE AGAINST AMEESHA PATEL
In October, a Ranchi court issued an arrest warrant against Bollywood actress Ameesha Patel in a cheating and cheque bounce case. The warrant was issued on a complaint lodged by Ajay Kumar Singh alleging that Ameesha Patel and her business partner Kunal had taken Rs 2.50 crore for making a film (which was never released). Ameesha Patel later gave a cheque of Rs 3 crore to the complainant, which bounced. Ameesha is also facing a cheating case, which accuses her of not attending an event in Ranchi after taking money. And, in November, a Madhya Pradesh court issued summons against the actress in another cheque bounce case (amount of Rs. 10 lakh) and asked her to remain present before it on January 27, 2020.
PAYAL ROHATGI SENT TO JUDICIAL CUSTODY IN CASE FILED FOR MAKING OBJECTIONABLE COMMENTS AGAINST NEHRU FAMILY
The Rajasthan Police registered a case against TV actress and reality star Payal Rohatgi under S. 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act. The case was registered on a complaint filed by Rajasthan Youth Congress leader Charmesh Sharma who claimed that Rohatgi made false and defamatory allegations against Motilal Nehru and his wife on social media. In December, a local Rajasthan court sent Rohatgi to judicial custody for 9 days for posting such ‘objectionable content’.
SUNNY DEOL AND KARISMA KAPOOR ACQUITTED IN CASE OF PULLING EMERGENCY CHAIN IN TRAIN
A Rajasthan court acquitted Bollywood actor Sunny Deol and actress Karisma Kapoor in a 22-year-old case of illegally pulling emergency chain of train ‘2413-A Uplink Express’ while shooting for a film. Charges were initially read out against both the actors in 2009, which they successfully challenged in a sessions court in April 2010. However, on 17 September 2019, the railway court again framed charges against the two following which the actors filed a review petition in the district and sessions court. Additional District Judge Pawan Kumar finally granted relief to the actors in October and acquitted them.
POLICE COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST ACTRESS VANI KAPOOR FOR WEARING A TOP WITH ‘RAM’ WRITTEN ON IT
A complaint was filed against actress Vani Kapoor by a Mumbai resident, Rama Sawant, for posting pictures on social media wearing a top with a plunging neckline that has the word ‘Ram’ written on it. The complaint, filed with Mumbai’s NM Joshi Marg Police Station, alleged that Vaani has hurt religious sentiments and should be booked under S. 215A of the Indian Penal Code.
GOVINDA, JACKIE SHROFF FINED RS 20,000 OVER MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENT IN RELATION TO A PAIN RELIEF OIL
A consumer court in UP’s Muzzaffarnagar imposed a fine of Rs. 20,000 on actors Govinda and Jackie Shroff while hearing a complaint filed by local lawyer Abhinav Agarwal. The complainant alleged that the oil did not provide pain relief in 15 days as promised in its advertisements and as represented by the company’s brand ambassadors. The court ordered all five stakeholders – the company, Govinda, Jackie Shroff, Telemart Shopping Network Pvt Ltd. and Max communications – to pay Rs 20,000 as compensation to the complainant.
VIPUL K RAWAL RECEIVES FLAK FOR HURTING CATHOLIC SENTIMENTS IN THE POSTER OF HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT ‘TONY’
Bollywood scriptwriter Vipul K Rawal was served a legal notice for allegedly hurting Catholic sentiments in his directorial debut, ‘Tony’. Rawal however refused to withdraw the film’s poster, which shows a chopped hand nailed to the Holy Cross. Subsequently, a PIL was filed against Rawal’s film before the Bombay HC by the Christian Reform United People Association.
HIGH COURT ISSUE NOTICES TO PRASOON JOSHI, GIPPY GREWAL ON CONTEMPT PLEA
The Punjab & Haryana HC issued notice of motion on a contempt petition to CBFC Chairperson Prasoon Joshi and actor Gippy Grewal for disobeying the directions issued by the HC in its order dated October 28. The order was passed by the HC after a petition was filed by Punjab Gramin Bank alleging that it was depicted in a “poor/shabby and insecure condition” in the movie. Accordingly, the court directed blurring of the bank’s name in the movie, which the respondents failed to implement before releasing the movie.
SUPREME COURT ON LOVEYATRI ROW: NO COERCIVE ACTION WILL BE TAKEN AGAINST SALMAN KHAN
The Supreme Court on November 29 said that no coercive action, in the nature of a FIR or criminal prosecution, will be taken against actor Salman Khan for his production ‘Loveyatri’. This direction was given in response to several criminal complaints filed in Bihar and Gujarat against the movie alleging that its name has hurt the religious sentiment of Hindus.
MADRAS HC QUASHES FIR AGAINST ‘KAKKOOS’ FILMMAKER DIVYA BHARATHI
The Madras high court quashed an FIR filed against documentary filmmaker Divya Bharathi, who directed the documentary “Kakkoos” on the lives of manual scavengers. The complaint was filed in 2017 alleging that the director wrongly portrayed the Devendra Kula Vellalar community in her film and that what it depicted was an ‘imposed identiy’. The FIR against Bharathi had been filed under S. 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and S. 505 (1)(b) (Statements conducting to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
BOMBAY HC DISMISSES PETITION AGAINST SRK’s KIRPAN SCENE IN MOVIE ZERO
Bombay HC dismissed the petition filed by Delhi Sikh Gurudwara General Secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa against actor Shah Rukh Khan for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community due to a scene in his movie ‘Zero’ where he was seen carrying ‘Gatra Kirpan’. The petitioner had sought to initiate action against Shah Rukh Khan for violating S. 295A of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or beliefs as an offence. The petition was dismissed as the petitioner admitted in the Court that his grievances were addressed by the makers of the film ‘Zero’ as they had made amendments to the scene in question.
BONEY KAPOOR SENDS LEGAL NOTICE TO THE MAKERS OF MOVIE SRIDEVI BUNGALOW
Producer Boney Kapoor, the husband of late actress Sridevi, slapped legal notice on the makers of the Priya Prakasha Varrier-starring film ‘Sridevi Bungalow’ which was evidently shown to be based on the life of Sridevi. The director of the film, Prasanth Mambully confirmed the news of legal notice and stated that he was ready to face the same as the film is not based on Sridevi’s life. Boney Kapoor also later sought a restraint order against the use of the name of his late wife in the title of the film.
CASE REGISTERED AGAINST KARAN JOHAR, HARDIK PANDYA AND KL RAHUL OVER MISOGYNISTIC COMMENTS
An FIR was registered under S. 504 of the Indian Penal Code by advocate Deva Ram Meghwal against director Karan Johar and cricketers Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul for their alleged misogynistic comments on Johar’s chat show ‘Koffee with Karan’. The complainant termed the remarks as being indecent and also alleged that they had been made to increase the popularity of the show. The two sportspersons were also initially suspended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) before the BCCI ombudsman D.K. Jain fined them Rs. 20 lakh each in April.
FIR AGAINST ANUPAM KHER AND AKSHAYE KHANNA FILED IN MUZAFFARPUR, BIHAR FOR THE MOVIE ‘THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER’
Muzaffarpur Police lodged an FIR against actors Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna and 12 others related with the movie ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’. The FIR was lodged on February 12, 2019 after the district court took objection to non-compliance of its January 08, 2019 order through which it had directed police to lodge an FIR against the aforementioned on a complaint filed by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha with a plea that the movie presented Manmohan Singh and a number of other public figures in bad light. The FIR was lodged under S. 295, 153, 153A, 293, 504, 506, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code which relates to promoting enmity among different groups, sale of obscene objects, insult with intent to provoke breach of peace and criminal conspiracy, etc.
ALL INDIA CINE WORKERS ASSOCIATION BANS PAKISTAN ARTISTS POST PULWAMA TERROR ATTACK
The All India Cine Workers Association (AICWA) announced a total ban on Pakistan artists and actors working in the film industry through a notice dated February 18, 2019. This was in response to the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir which claimed lives of more than 40 CRPF Jawans. The notice also stated that if any organization is found working with the Pakistani actors or artists, it will have to face the dire consequences of strict action and a ban by AICWA.
CYBERABAD POLICE ISSUE NOTICES TO CELEBRITIES IN QNET SCAM PROBE
The Cyberabad Police issued notices to about 500 people including celebrities Shahrukh Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Anil Kapoor in the multi-crore Qnet multi-level marketing scam. The notified celebrities allegedly endorsed and promoted the companies involved, which are facing charges of cheating, and some of them also worked as their brand ambassadors. They were asked to appear before the investigation office within a week’s time to explain their involvement with QNet, failing which, appropriate legal action would be initiated. After multiple postponements of the deadline to reply to the notice, Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor and Boman Irani responded and explained their role in promoting the schemes of the companies accused, but others such as Vivek Oberoi and Jackie Shroff did not reply and risk facing legal action.
INDIAN NATIONAL LEAGUE CALLS BAN ON FILM ‘90 ML’; DEMANDS ARREST OF ACTOR OVIYA AND CAST MEMBERS
Indian National League Party’s State Women’s Wing chief Aarifa Razak filed a complaint against actor Oviya, director Anita Udeep and the cast members of a recent Tamil film ‘90 ML’ for degrading Tamil culture and promoting ‘rape culture’. In addition to arresting the film’s cast and its director, Aarifa also called for a ban on the film. Notably, the film was certified ‘A’ by the Central Board of Film Certification ahead of its release.
AMITABH BACHCHAN RECEIVES LEGAL NOTICE DEMANDING RUPEES ONE CRORE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA POST
Actor Amitabh Bachchan received a legal notice for posting a “poem” on his Twitter and Facebook handles that was allegedly written by the MDU welfare youth director, Dr. Jagbir Rathee without his consent. Rathee demanded Rs. 1 crore as compensation. He added that he tried to communicate the issue to the star via Facebook and Twitter accounts but was unable to contact him for almost a year. Consequently, he used his only option of sending a legal notice through his lawyer, asking him to remove the post and demanding the monetary damages within 15 days.
CHARGES CONTINUE AGAINST SHAH RUKH KHAN FOR ‘RAEES’ PROMOTION STUNT
The Rajasthan High Court on March 06, 2019 ruled that the charges of rioting and endangering the life of people against actor Shah Rukh Khan during the promotion of his film ‘Raees’ on board a train in Kota will continue even though the petitioner said he did not want to pursue the case further. Vikram Singh, a railway vendor who was a victim of the stampede caused by Khan’s act of throwing gifts at his fans, had filed this case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including S. 147 (rioting), S. 149 (unlawful assembly), S. 427 (mischief causing damage), as well as S. 3 of Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act, 1984.
MS DHONI MOVES SUPREME COURT AGAINST AMRAPALI GROUP WITH RS 40 CRORE CLAIM
Former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni moved the Supreme Court to claim Rs. 40 crore from the Amrapali group for his services in branding and marketing activities. Dhoni was the brand ambassador of the Amrapali Group from 2009 to 2016, ending his contractual relationship with them when thousands of homebuyers campaigned against him for promoting Amrapali that duped them.
FIR ON RAVEENA, FARAH AND BHARTI FOR ‘TRIVIALISING HALLELUJAH’
Punjab police booked Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, director Farah Khan and comedian Bharti Singh under Section 295-A of the IPC for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Christians during a show webcast on the internet. The trio is believed to have said something questionable during Farah’s YouTube comedy show, The Backbenchers, that did not go down well with certain members of the Christian community.
DELHI HIGH COURT REJECTS DABUR’S PLEA TO STOP EMAMI’S CHYAVANPRASHAD ADVERTISEMENTS
The Delhi High Court on 3 July 2019, in the case of Dabur India Ltd. v. Emami Limited dismissed a plea by Dabur seeking to restrain Emami from broadcasting, printing and publishing Zandu Chyavanprashad advertisements in any media as it stated that it should not stifle innovation and fair competition. Dabur filed this interim application alleging that Emami’s advertisements were disparaging and injurious to the goodwill of its product, Chyawanprash. The court analyzed the Code of Advertising Standards Council of India and observed comparative advertising is permissible in law, provided it is not misleading, unfair or deceptive. It also stated that while making a comparison, a competitor could declare his goods to be the best in the world even if untrue. However, one could not say that the competitor’s goods were bad. It also recorded that the declaration in the Chyavanprashad advertisement to the effect that Chyawanprash contained more than 50% sugar was factually correct (which was asserted by Dabur to be disparagement).
ACTORS IN COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENTS CANNOT BE SHOWN IN MILITARY FATIGUES WITHOUT APPROVAL BY THE DEFENCE MINISTRY.
The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) in a tweet on 13 August mentioned that in a new advisory, the Additional Directorate General of Public Information has stated that advertisements portraying actors in military fatigues will need a prior approval from the Defence Ministry before release of such an advertisement in public domain. This advisory reportedly came after some consumers complained regarding an ad released by a pan masala brand which depicted actors in camouflaged uniform of the army personnel chewing the product.
INDIAN ARMY ISSUES NEW GUIDELINES FOR ADVERTISERS
Indian Army on November 12 issued a new guideline directing advertisers showing actors in uniform to get clearance for their advertisement before releasing it to the public. It was strictly noted that no pan masala or fairness cream advertisements should depict soldiers in it. This step is seemingly being taken as the army does not want to promote any kind of negativity in society.
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, wrote 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 which were to be held on 23 March 2019 in Mumbai. Dr. Arora stated that such advertisements would be in violation of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and the Food Safety and Standard Act and that timely action was necessary to prevent youngsters from getting influenced from such advertisements.
RAJAT SHARMA GETS RELIEF AGAINST ZEE HINDUSTAN’s ADVERTISEMENT CAMPAIGN
Delhi High Court vide order dated 11 January 2019 granted an ex-parte interim injunction restraining Zee Hindustan from issuing any advertisement relating or referring to Rajat Sharma, the Editor-in-Chief of India TV. The suit was filed by Rajat Sharma and India TV after Zee Hindustan used taglines in its advertisements targeting Rajat. The plaintiff contended that the advertisement was deliberately used to maliciously represent and disparage the image of India TV and Rajat Sharma and claimed infringement of his personality rights. The court took into account the celebrity rights of Rajat Sharma while holding that the advertisement is prima facie illegal and directed the Defendant to remove all the hoardings within 3 days of the order which make any reference to the petitioners.
I&B MINISTRY ASKS TV CHANNELS TO RUN SCROLL TO REPORT OBJECTIONABLE ADS
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry on 24 January 2019 issued an advisory asking all television channels to run a scroller which provides information about reporting an objectionable advertisement. In a bid to create mass consumer awareness about the self-regulatory mechanism of advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Ministry mandated all television channels to run scroller “Objectionable ads? Complain to The Advertising Standards Council of lndia (ASCI) 7710012345ascionline.org” during ad breaks. It also asked channels to strictly adhere to the Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and specifically Rule 7(9) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 which bars cable service providers from carrying advertisements which violate the Code for self-regulation in advertising.
BOMBAY HC QUESTIONS FACEBOOK ON ITS VIEW TO REGULATE PAID POLITICAL CONTENT BEFORE ELECTIONS
In a PIL filed by lawyer Sagar Suryavanshi, the Bombay High Court asked social media giant Facebook as to why it was reluctant to strictly regulate paid political content in India, considering that a strict scrutiny system is already in place in countries like the US and the UK. The PIL sought directions to the Election Commission on prohibiting all persons, whether politicians or private individuals, from posting political or poll-related advertisements or paid political content on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter 48 hours before election day. The High Court asked Facebook to file an affidavit listing the steps it could initiate to regulate such content, as well as a reply in terms of the stringent scrutiny systems Facebook adopts for paid political content in the UK and the US. Facebook reportedly rolled out new norms on February 21, similar to its policy followed in the US, to prevent ‘foreign intervention’ in polls and to disclose who has paid for a certain advert.
TWITTER INTRODUCES ADVERTISER VERIFICATIONS AND ADS TRANSPARENCY CENTRE
Twitter stated that from 11 March 2019 it would introduce and commence ‘Advertiser Verification’ and ‘Ads Transparency Centre’ in India to regulate political ads and increase election transparency. From the effective date, political advertisers would have to verify themselves to run ads on Twitter, thereby requiring political parties to submit their Election Commission registration certificate or founding documents of the party. Twitter would also soon start adding disclosures before showing such advertisements by way of visual labels.
CODE TO REGULATE AND REDUCE AD-SUPPORTED ILLEGAL CONTENT TO BE FRAMED SOON BY THE CELL FOR IPR PROMOTION AND MANAGEMENT
Cell for IPR Promotion and Management, a unit of the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, took up the initiative of forming a ‘Voluntary Code’ aimed at reducing ad-supported illegal content. Signatories to the Code will agree not to advertise on websites that host infringing content, thereby cutting off revenue channels for owners of websites hosting pirated content and disincentivizing piracy. It was also reported that India will soon be coming out with an ‘Infringing Website List’ which will differentiate between grey listed websites (unsafe) and white listed websites (safe) for advertising purposes. Notably, the government has suspended 235 notorious pirate websites, which had 186 million users per month, over the past 2 years. The draft e-commerce policy also proposed to set up a body of industry stakeholders, including internet service providers, to effectively implement such anti-piracy measures.
BCCI REFUSES TO GRANT PERMISSION TO STAR INDIA TO RUN POLITICAL ADS DURING IPL 2019
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) declined to grant permission to Star India to run political advertisements during the Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcast earlier this year, which coincided with the Lok Sabha elections. The broadcaster had written to BCCI, requesting them to waive off Clause 8.6 (B) in the Media Rights Agreement which prohibited the broadcast of any kind of religious and political advertisements. After deliberation, the BCCI stated that it would adhere to its current policy and refrain broadcasters from airing political and religious advertisements during a bilateral, international or domestic tournament held under its banner.
CCI DISMISSES COMPLAINT FILED BY RONNIE SCREWVALA AGAINST PVR, INOX AND OTHERS:
The complaint filed against PVR, Inox, Cinepolis, Carnival and FICCI Multiplex Association of India 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.
The CCI, however, dismissed the complaint due to lack of evidence to prove collusion among the multiplex chains, according to the CCI order.
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.
Inox Leisure boycotted Ronnie Screwvala’s film ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ after he had filed the aforementioned complaint.
MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SECTOR TO BE ASSESSED BY THE COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA:
With the objective of studying the new practices and technologies in this dynamic sector and its impact in affecting competition adversely, 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 study will cover print, electronic and online media, broadcasting companies, content providers and industry bodies.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT SETS ASIDE THE CCI ORDER IN THE MATTER OF NSTPL VS STAR AND SONY:
The division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and S J Kathawalla held that the CCI had applied a wrong test to determine the anti-competitive conduct, as argued by the broadcasters. “Before directing an investigation, the CCI ought to have applied its mind to and scrutinized the Petitioners’ conduct based on the factors set out under Section 19(3) of the Competition Act,’’ said the HC after observing that it had jurisdiction to entertain and decide the broadcasters’ challenge against the CCI order.
The HC observed that the CCI order “lacks this necessary finding’’ and hence it cannot be sustained on this count alone.
CCI PROBES GOOGLE WHO IS ACCUSED OF ANDROID DOMINANCE IN INDIA:
Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been probing into Alphabet Inc’s unit Google which has been accused of abusing its Android mobile operating system in order to block its rivals.
In October, Google had said that smartphone makers would be charged a fee in order to use its popular Google Play app store and also permit them to use rival versions of Android to comply with the European Union order. The change, however, covered only the European Economic Area.
In a similar kind of case in European Union, Google had been charged with a penalty of 4.34 billion euros in 2018, wherein the anti-trust regulator held Google abusing its market dominance. The order has however been challenged by Google.
COMPETITION COMMISSION DISMISSED COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST INOX, HINDUSTAN COCA-COLA:
Dismissing the complaint alleging unfair trade practices against multiplex chain operators, Inox and Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, with respect to selling of beverages in multiplexes alleging that there existed an arrangement between them wherein consumers had no option but to buy essential goods like water in multiplexes.
However, CCI noted that there was no appreciable adverse effect on competition, with regard to the agreement between the companies, which needed to be established in order to examine any possible violation of Section 3 of the Act. It was also observed that there was no necessity to buy any such goods to watch a movie, contrary to which Inox even provides free water inside the multiplexes as noted by CCI.
SPORTS AND GAMING
DELHI HC ISSUES NOTICE TO CENTRE, PRASAR BHARTI, BCCI ON A PIL CHALLENGING SECTION 3(1) OF SPORTS ACT
The Delhi High Court, on 10 May 2019, issued notices to the Centre, Prasar Bharti and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) following a PIL challenging the provision of the Sports Act that restricts the transmission of the live broadcast of sporting events of national importance to Prasar Bharti’s terrestrial and DTH networks. The PIL contended that restriction on the airing of sporting events to Prasar Bharati’s terrestrial and DTH networks defeats the purpose of the Sports Act which is to enable everyone to access such sporting events free of cost. Further that S. 3(1) of the Act prevents citizens from freely accessing sporting events of national importance on any other digital platform except the terrestrial and DTH networks of DD. Therefore, the petition sought setting aside of section 3(1) of the Sports Act. A similar petition was filed before the Punjab & Haryana High Court in which the petitioner also sought directions to make the shared feed of “sports events of national interest” available on Prasar Bharti’s sports channels available on private cable and other DTH platforms.
PIL FILED IN DELHI HIGH COURT AGAINST ONLINE POKER, BETTING WEBSITES AND FANTASY GAMES
A Public Interest Litigation was filed by social activist Avinash Mehrotra in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the Union Ministry of Information Technology and the Reserve Bank of India to ban/prevent online gaming websites under Sections 67 and 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It further asked for a direction to the Ministry of Finance to recover taxes due from players and operators as well as prosecution of operators and promoters of online gaming websites. The petitioner contended that these websites seem to encourage the horrible habit of gambling amongst youngsters, and are doing so solely with a view of making large amounts of profits at the cost of unsuspecting citizens. He also asserted that sports betting is dependent on the performance of individual players and there is no skill involved on part of the person placing the bet. The petition also challenged provisions in the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016, contending that ‘the State Legislature has permitted people to lay waste to their fortune, hard earned money, and possible inheritance, by permitting them to play games of pure chance, under the garb of calling them games of skill.’
DELHI HC DECLINES INTERIM BLOCKING OF POKER & BETTING WEBSITES
A division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi declined to issue an order directing interim blocking of online gambling, betting and poker websites in the aforementioned PIL filed by social activist Avinash Mehrotra. The court however issued notice to the centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and sought their response on the petition which has alleged that illegal and illicit gambling, betting and poker portals are soliciting bets from India in violation of foreign exchange laws, tax laws and existing gambling legislation.
BOMBAY HC DISMISSES PIL AGAINST THE FANTASY LEAGUE DREAM 11
The Bombay High Court held that Dream 11 doesn’t qualify as gambling as it is a game of skill and not chance while dismissing a PIL filed by Gurdeep Singh Sachar who sought to commence criminal proceedings against Dream 11 for conducting illicit gambling or betting in the semblance of Online Fantasy Sports Gaming and for evasion of GST. The petitioner claimed that online fantasy games entice working class people to make quick cash via games of chance, which results in them losing their money quite frequently. However, the court found no merit in this case as the chances of winning of a player in the fantasy game is not dependent on the winning of a real-sport hence no gambling or betting or wagering is involved. The court also took cognizance of a judgment of the Punjab & Haryana HC in which it held that Dream 11’s online fantasy sports competitions are not in the nature of betting or gambling. Therefore, the court held that there is no evasion of GST as Dream 11 doesn’t come under the ambit of gambling. Special Leave Petitions filed against the Bombay HC’s order before the Supreme Court were also dismissed recently by the Supreme Court.
KERALA HC HOLDS RUMMY FOR STAKES TO BE AT PAR WITH OFFENCE OF GAMBLING
The High Court of Kerala held via judgment dated January 24, 2019, that playing rummy for stakes would constitute an offence under the Kerala Gaming Act, 1960. This was held in a petition filed by Ramachandran K, Secretary of Sopanam Arts and Sports Club against alleged harassment by police by visiting the club and booking cases against its members for playing rummy. The Division Bench of Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar noted that the rummy was held to be a ‘game of skill’ by the Apex Court in State of A.P v. K. Satyanarayana (1968 AIR 825). However, it stated that if there is evidence of any profit or gain from the game of rummy or any other game played for stakes, the offence of gambling is made out as it is to be played as an ‘innocent pastime’. Through an order dated 11 October 2019 though, a division bench comprising of Justices AM Shaffique and N Anil Kumar held that the legality of online rummy for stakes has to be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the manner in which games are conducted and what are the stakes involved. This order was passed in response to several review petitions filed against the court’s order in January.
DELHI HIGH COURT DIRECTS KINGS XI PUNJAB TO DEPOSIT THE ENTIRE AMOUNT OF ROYALTY DUE TO ISRA IN THE DELHI HIGH COURT FOR ALL THEIR HOME MATCHES IN 2019 IPL SEASON.
In an interim application filed in the matter of ISRA vs Ashok Singh & Ors before the Delhi High Court, ISRA sought compliance by Kings XI Punjab, defendant no.7, of the order dated 8 April 2016 by deposit of the requisite royalty before the court in case the said IPL team intends to communicate to the public any of ISRA’s repertoire of songs comprising of performance of any of its members during its IPL matches. The counsel for Kings XI agreed to deposit the previously-settled amount of Rs.3,80,125/- for the current IPL season also, with the court allowing the application on the basis of this statement.
DELHI HIGH COURT ANSWERS IF ITS ‘FAIR AND LOVELY’ OR ‘HANDSOME’:
The Delhi High Court finding no merit in the case filed by by Hindustan Unilever Ltd. rejected the same and held that prima facie it cannot be concluded that Emami’s TV commercial seeks to slander the goods of the Plaintiff. Additionally, the commercial advertisement does not leave an impression that in any manner disparages the product of the plaintiff
DELHI HIGH COURT RESTRAINS JUSTDIAL FROM USING PVR TRADEMARK ON ITS PLATFORM:
The Defendant had received repeated reminders from the Plaintiff but did not cease with its unauthorized activity with the mala fide intent to popularize its platform. The Delhi High Court held that a prima facie case of infringement and passing off was made out in favour of the Plaintiff.
MADRAS HIGH COURT GRANTS AN INTERIM INJUNCTION IN FAVOUR OF MATRIMONY.COM IN DOMAIN CASE:
The case concerns an infringement of Matrimony.com’s trademarks. Kaylan Matrimony is alleged to have infringed multiple trademarks, including Tamil Matrimony, Telugu Matrimony and Kerala Matrimony. The dispute arose around SEO and Google AdWords practices.
MADRAS HIGH COURT CLEARS DECKS FOR RELEASE OF NAYANTHARA-STARRER KOLAYUTHIR KAALAM:
On learning the film producers had incurred huge losses, the Court vacated the interim injunction and held that no one could claim copyright over the title of a movie as case of the plaintiff was only with regard to similarity in title and not that the content of the novel as well as the movie was the same.
DELHI HC PULLS UP PRASAR BHARTI FOR INFRINGING DISH TV TRADEMARK:
While passing the injunction, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw noted “Rather, I am dismayed that the defendant, a public sector enterprise, indulged in using another’s trade mark and in spite of the plaintiff objecting thereto, refused to act reasonably. The same is not expected of a public sector enterprise which according to the proclaimed litigation policy of the Government is not to be indulged in. It is at least now expected that the officials responsible for conduct of the business of the defendant will bestow attention thereto and take a call, whether it is worthwhile to contest this litigation, obviously at the cost of the exchequer.”
DELHI HIGH COURT REJECTS PLEA FILED AGAINST RELEASE OF THE FILM ‘KHANDANI SHAFAKHANA’:
Rejecting the plea of the Plaintiff the Court held that (i) the trademark of the Plaintiff were no longer registered as per the Registry’s record and (ii) the Plaintiff only had a device mark registration.
The Court rejected the passing off claim raised by the Plaintiff on the ground of non use of the mark since the last 18 years.
DELHI HIGH COURT BARS INK MANGO FROM USING ‘JUGGERNAUT’ AS IT IS A TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT:
The New-York based company Ink Mango was directed by the Delhi High Court to refrain from using the word ‘Juggernaut’ including its domain name ‘www.juggernaut.com’ as it led to trademark violation.
The publishing house deals with authors around the world through a web based software accessible from various electronic devices such as computers and smartphones. One of the authors associated with the publishing house was approached by Ink Mango to publish his writing on their portal titled Juggernaut. The Author then informed the Juggernaut Books about the same and hence the publishing house filed a suit seeking permanent injunction to restrain Ink Mango Company from using their trademark amongst other reliefs.
REGISTRAR OF TRADE MARKS DUTY-BOUND TO SUPPLY GROUNDS FOR REFUSAL OF APPLICATION:
A judgement by Justice JR Midha declared Rule 36 of the Trade Mark Rule, 2017, to be arbitrary, unreasonable and inconsistent with the Act in so far as it empowers the Registry to communicate the decision without the grounds for refusal or conditional acceptance and has directed the Registrar to strictly comply with Sec 18(5) of the Trade Marks Act giving a detailed reasoned order containing the grounds of refusal/ conditional acceptance to be sent to the applicant within two weeks of passing of the order.
FLIPKART DECLARED A WELL-KNOWN TRADEMARK:
Flipkart, had filed for a permanent trademark injunction to restrain Somasundaram Ramkumar from using the trademark FLIPPINGKART and the domain www.flippingkart.com who had unauthorizedly registered the domain www.flippingkart.com to encash upon the reputation and goodwill of Flipkart.
In an ex-parte judgment, the Madras High Court opined that the mark FLIPPINGKART was adopted with a mala fide intent and the same would amount to trademark infringement and passing-off of Flipkart’s goods and/or services. The Court further declared Flipkart a well-known trademark.
SURROGATE TOBACCO ADVERTISEMENT: MAHARASHTRA GOVT SEEKS TRADEMARK INFO ON BRAND:
Taking a stern view of surrogate advertisements of flavoured and scented tobacco, both banned in Maharashtra, the state government has written to the Trademark Office of the central government to provide details of three trademarks- ‘Dane Dane Me Kesar Ka Dum’, Vimal (Hindi logo) and Vimal (English logo) from the Trademark Office.
As per section 5 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, tobacco and cigarette advertisement are prohibited.
MCDONALDS BIG MAC TRADEMARK LOSES TO SUPER MAC IN EUROPEAN UNION IP OFFICE:
In a case of ‘trademark bullying’, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that the fast food giant McDonalds was not using its trademark in accordance with European Union (EU) law and held that McDonalds could not submit adequate evidence to demonstrate the genuine use of the mark ‘Big Mac’ for the five year period before the case was filed.
NETFLIX’s BLACK MIRROR BANDERSNATCH GETS TRADEMARK NOTICE OVER THE MARK ‘CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE’:
Chooseco LLC, publisher of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ (CYOA) book series has filed a lawsuit against Netflix’s show Black Mirror alleging that the streaming giant has damaged the complainant’s brand by using it without permission. It is also alleged that the impact of the film’s graphic content on the CYOA brand has not been good as the film associates with scenes depicting violence, murder, drug abuse and other disturbing content. The complainant also states the fact that Netflix had tried to license the trademark back in 2016, but did not obtain it. Post release of the film, the complainant had no other option but to litigate.
SINGER RIHANNA FILES TRADEMARK LAWSUIT AGAINST FATHER FOR USING THE WORD FENTY:
World famous singer Robyn Rihanna Fenty had filed a lawsuit against her father Ronald Fenty and his business partner Moses Joktan Perkins for fraudulently representing that their Entertainment Company Fenty Entertainment is associated with the singer. According to news reports, Rihanna has also alleged that her father had accepted $15 million exclusive concert deal on her behalf without her authorization.
Rihanna alleges that by using the trademark Fenty, her father’s company is trying to cash on the success and recognition of Rihanna’s beauty brand ‘Fenty’ which she started in 2012.
Prior to filing the suit in California federal court, Rihanna had sent cease and desist letters to her father to stop him from exploiting the Fenty trademark.
HBO FAILS TO STOP ‘GAME OF STONES’ BEER MARK BEFORE THE UK INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE:
Recently, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) rejected an application in opposition to the applied-for trademark “Game of Stones” and a ring of standing stones.
Allowing the trademark and rejecting HBO’s arguments, the IPO held that even though a high level of aural similarity between the marks exists, there is a a reasonably low level of conceptual similarity.
TRAI PLANS TO BRING TV STREAM APPS UNDER LICENSING FRAMEWORK
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) plans to bring over-the-top (OTT) service providers that stream TV channels, under a licensing framework similar to the one for broadcasters. TRAI plans to focus on the OTT service providers of TV channels via apps that are currently unregulated and, in some cases offer free streaming.
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.
TRAI REVISES REGULATION ON INTERCONNECTION AGREEMENTS.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released revised regulation regarding the Register of Interconnection Agreements on 4th September, 2019.
According to this regulation, broadcasters must inform the regulator details of their commercial deals with cable and DTH players, or distribution platform operators (DPOs). These details include individual agreements like marketing and placement, agreements on advertisement slots, and extended credit facility.
TRAI TARIFF SCHEME GETS CONTESTED IN VARIOUS HIGH COURTS
TRAI Tariff scheme was notified on 3rd March 2017 and which would allow consumers to decide what channels they want to watch and pay only for those witnessed multiple litigations across the country as its deadline neared.
(i) CALCUTTA HIGH COURT- Just two days before the deadline for consumer migration to new channel packages under TRAI tariff scheme, the petition by 80 cable operators was successful in getting the TRAI compliance date extended from 31st January 2019 to the new date of 18th February 2019.
(ii) MADRAS HIGH COURT
Justice S Manikumar and J. Subramonium Prasad vide order January 29, 2019 dismissed a PIL filed by V. Rama Rao who contended extension of TRAI Tariff compliance deadline of January 31, 2019. The deadline is given by TRAI to the broadcast industry to finalise necessary arrangement for implementing the new tariff regime.
In the PIL, the petitioner contended that the process of cable TV digitization has not been completed in the state. Out of 11.1 million TV homes in the state of Tamil Nadu, only 4.6 million homes have gone digital. Hence, if the deadline is not extended, a substantial number of consumers would be left out.
However, the Madras High Court dismissed the PIL by quoting the Supreme Court case of Star India Private Limited v. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion dated October 30, 2018 stating that TRAI had jurisdiction to lay down tariff and regulations for TV channels. It also held that “It cannot be said that TRAI has been acting hastily or implementing its directions in a hurried manner, without taking into account the interest of all the participants.”
(iii) BOMBAY HIGH COURT
The Bombay HC refused to stay the TRAI tariff scheme on the petition by the Pune Cable Operator’s Association. The petitioners prayed for the stay of the TRAI tariff scheme on the basis of the Calcutta HC’s order’s dated January 29, 2019 which had stayed the TRAI tariff scheme till February 18, 2019. The petitioners also complained that they needed more time to comply with the scheme. However, the Court refused to grant a similar stay.
(iv) DELHI HIGH COURT
DTH player Tata Sky along with Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct have filed petition in Delhi High Court against TRAI’s tariff scheme. The petitioners have specifically asked the Court to understand how TRAI came to the decision to implement the upcoming tariff plan. The petitioners had also challenged the scheme stating the new tariff will impact the business and its profitability adversely.
(v) TELANGANA HIGH COURT
- P Naveen Rao of Telangana HC on January 31, 2019 heard a writ petition filed by the local cable operators of Secunderabad who had challenged the press note of TRAI regarding the new regulations. They contended that they were notified about the TRAI regulations through the press note which got published on 18.12.2018. The HC reserved its judgement and expressed surprise on the fact that the petitioner had chosen to challenge the press note which contained the new regulations instead of challenging the regulations themselves.
DPOs REACT ON SC DISMISSAL OF THE SLP FILED BY TRAI FOR SEEKING CLARITY ON 15% BOUQUET DISCOUNT CAP
The Supreme Court of India dismissed a Special Leave Petition filed by the TRAI on seeking clarity on the 15 per cent bouquet discount cap. The Special Leave Petition has arisen from the Madras High Court Order of May 2018 which had upheld TRAI’s right to regulate the broadcast sector with the only exception of capping of 15 per cent discount.
PRASAR BHARATI WANTS OTT TO CARRY DOORDARSHAN CHANNEL AND REGISTER NEWS CONTENT WITH MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING
In a reply to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) Consultation Paper dated November 12, 2018, Public Broadcaster Prasar Bharati has suggested some norms for Over-The-Top (OTT) so that they can be at par with TV Broadcasters and not just be leveled with the Telecom Service Providers (TSP).
The reply comment mainly included two suggestions- firstly; OTT platforms streaming Live TV should mandatorily carry all Doordarshan channels in a manner similar to DTH, MSOs and other Cable Operators. Secondly, these OTT services applications providing audio/video based content should comply with the basic regulatory and legal conditions that are followed by the TV Broadcasters. Prasar Bharati feels that OTT providers are not only replacing TSPs but also traditional broadcasters. Hence, they should register themselves with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting if they are broadcasting news content.
INOX FOLLOWS PVR; FILES COMPLAINT WITH SEBI AGAINST RONNIE SCREWVAL
Inox has written to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), saying the statements made by Ronnie Screwvala about the virtual print fee (VPF) i.e. a charge levied by film exhibitors, were false and misleading. Inox is the second firm after PVR to write to the market regulator on the issue. Inox also claimed in its letter that brokerage firm Emkay Global had flouted the Research Analysts Regulation that prohibits analysts from providing unreliable, misleading and unsubstantiated advice to investors.
I&B MINISTRY REQUESTS TELEVISION CHANNELS TO MAKE ALL SHOWS PwD FRIENDLY WITH SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETATION
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry vide letter dated 7th February 2019, requested all private satellite TV channels to carry TV programmes with sign language interpretation for accessing by differently abled people.
I&B MINISTRY SETS UP FILM FACILITATION OFFICE IN NFDC AS THE SINGLE WINDOW CLEARANCE AND FACILITATION MECHANISM FOR FILM SHOOTINGS
The I&B Ministry vide letter dated 30th May, 2019 has informed the film fraternity members that the Ministry has set up the film facilitation office in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) as the single window clearance and facilitation mechanism, with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by both domestic and foreign filmmakers in India and to enhance India’s positioning in the global market as an ideal filming destination. In this regard, the
Facilitation Office (FFO) has also set up the web portal www.ffo.gov.in which allows submission of online film shooting applications from both domestic and international filmmakers.
I&B MINISTRY ASKS TV CHANNELS TO DISPLAY CREDITS OF SERIALS IN HINDI, REGIONAL LANGUAGES TOO
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) issued an advisory to all private television channels to display the casting/credits/titles of Hindi and regional languages serials in the respective languages as well.
SCREENWRITERS ASSOCIATION COMES UP WITH PLAN ENSURING FAIR PAY FOR WRITERS
The Screenwriter Association (SWA) had announced an initiative under which a writer will be paid remuneration depending on the scale of a film production.The new plan aims to ensure fair pay to writers, who are most of the time underpaid in the industry for their services
KOLHAPURI CHAPPALS GET GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS TAG
The ethnic leather and world famous handcrafted footwear Kohlapuri chappal that rose from local or rural market to enter global fashion trends, now has a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
DELHI HIGH COURT DIRECTS SNAPDEAL TO DELIST COUNTERFEIT TITAN/FASTRACK WATCHES
The Delhi High Court granted the Tata Group Company, Titan, an ad-interim relief against Snapdeal and two other e-tailers restraining them from selling, marketing or otherwise dealing in goods bearing the marks Titan and Fastrack of Titan. Snapdeal was further ordered to remove the Uniform Resource Locators (URL) as mentioned in the complaint lodged by Titan Company with Snapdeal within 24 hours of receiving the court order. It was also directed in event of any further complaints raised by Titan company about URL’s selling counterfeit goods of Titan, such URL’s should also be removed immediately
BOMBAY HIGH COURT FINDS CBFC NOTICE ON SUB-TITLES UNSUSTAINABLE; ORDERS THAT SUBTITLES CAN BE ADDED IN THE FILM EVEN AFTER CERTIFICATION BY GETTING ENDORSEMENT FROM CBFC
In a petition filed by Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPAA) challenging a notice issued by CBFC which required that applicants must submit an undertaking along with their application clearly stating that (a) subtitles are included or (b) no subtitles will be added once a film is certified, the Bombay High Court has vide its order dated September 25, 2019 ruled that any addition of subtitles after certification of the film is required to be reported to the Board in Form III in the Second Schedule of the Cinematograph Rules and the Board has to endorse the particulars of the alteration on the certificate, as mandated under Rule 33 of the said Rules.
JUSTICE PRATIBHA SINGH SEEKS REPLY ON THE DYSFUNCTIONAL AFFAIRS OF IPAB
In a stringent order passed on October 23, 2019 Justice Pratibha Singh, Delhi High Court has demanded answers from the Secretary of the DIIPT on the state of affairs of IPAB.
GOVERNMENT PROPOSES TO REPLACE ARCHAIC PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF BOOKS (PRB) ACT, 1867 TO REGULATE DIGITAL MEDIA
On 25 November, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) released a draft Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill (RPP Bill) for public consultation. Once finalised, this Bill is meant to replace the existing law in place for registration of newspapers in the country, the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867 (PRB Act).
MIB SEEKS FEEDBACK ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO CABLE TELEVISION NETWORK RULES 1994
The ministry of information and broadcasting has sought feedback/comments from general public stakeholders on amendments in the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
The ministry stated that it has received representations on the issue of display of casting/credits/titles of Hindi serials telecast on TV containing the names of artists, singers, lyricists, musicians, directors, producers, etc. in the Hindi language/Regional languages also.
KARNATAKA HIGH COURT ISSUES NOTICE IN A WRIT PETITION QUESTIONING THE KARNATAKA FILM AWARDS
Kannada film producer N Narasimharaju has filed a writ petition questioning the announcement of Karnataka State Film Awards and subsidy for the films for 2017 and 2018 for violating the guidelines under the Kannada Film Policy 2011. A single-judge bench of Justice K Nataraj, while hearing the petition on November 14, issued a notice to the Kannada and Culture Department, Information and Public Relations Department and chairman and regional officer of the Central Board of Film Certification.
IPAB’S NON PROVISION TO APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT
In a press release by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, it was clarified that any order of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and any decision of intellectual property offices (such as the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks) can be challenged before High Courts by way of a writ petition uWEEnder Article 226 of the Constitution and before the Supreme Court by way of Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.
UNION CABINET APPROVES CINEMATOGRAPH AMENDMENT BILL
The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2019. The amendment bill aims to amend the the Cinematograph Amendment Act 1952. The amendment bill makes film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fines that may extend to 10 lakh or both.
SPOTIFY ANNOUNCES ITS GLOBAL DEAL WITH MUSIC GIANT T-SERIES
Spotify, a music streaming platform based in Sweden announced its global tie-up with T-Series, the biggest Indian Film and Music Company. The deal will give Spotify customers access to the entire music catalogue of T-Series which includes regional, Bollywood and other songs.
THINK MUSIC ASSIGNS ITS ‘ON GROUND PERFORMANCE RIGHTS’ TO NOVEX COMMUNICATIONS
Think Music, the music label headquartered in Chennai recently assigned its ‘on ground performance rights’ to Novex Communications. The ‘exclusive’ assignment deed has been entered for the period starting from 01st January 2019 to 31st December 2023 which is subject to renewal. The ‘on ground performance rights’ according to the contract includes public performances or communication to the public of the songs/sound recordings across various ground based events and venues including malls, pubs, hotels etc.
PIL FILED IN INDORE HC AGAINST THE USE OF WORD ‘ADHINAYAK’ IN NATIONAL ANTHEM
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed by one Indore resident Kanhaiya Bhawsar in the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the usage of word ‘Adhinayak’ appearing in the national anthem of India. The Petitioner contended that the time when Rabindranath Tagore wrote the national anthem in 1913 was different than what the free India stands for today. ‘Adhinayak’ means a supreme ruler or a dictator and Rabindranath Tagore had then dedicated the anthem to King Edward, who was India’s supreme ruler at that time. The petitioner also contends that Tagore had not planned Jana Gana Man to be the free India’s national anthem. Hence, when the free India decided to adopt Jan Gana Man as national anthem, the word ‘Adhinayak’ should have been changed or removed at that time itself. It is to note that the petitioner has been fighting the said cause for many years before filing this petition seeking relief from the court.
A BIG WIN FOR SONGWRITERS AS US STREAMING ROYALTY RATES RISE 44%
The US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has recently approved a major increase in the mechanical royalty rates to be distributed to songwriters for 2018-2022. The decision includes a 44% increase in the overall percentage of revenue paid to songwriters which would rise from 10.5% to 15.1% and is the largest rate increase in the CRB’s history.
SUPREME COURT ASKS STATES TO SENSITISE COPS ABOUT SCRAPPING OF SECTION 66A OF IT ACT IN 2015
The Supreme Court on Feb 15, 2019 directed all state governments to sensitise their police personnel about its March 24, 2015 verdict in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India which had scrapped Section 66A of Information Technology Act, so that people are not unnecessarily arrested under the struck down provision.
PRODUCER GUILD OF INDIA SIGNS MOU WITH PRODUCER GUILD OF AMERICA TO STRENGTHEN ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR
The Producer Guild of India (PGI) released a press statement on February 11, 2019 stating that it joined hands with Producer Guild of America (PGA) in order to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU was signed to build a strong collaborative system of assistance between the film, television and new media sectors of India and United States of America.
BOLLYWOOD SEES A SUBSTANTIAL SPIKE TO REGISTER ‘PATRIOTIC’ FILM TITLES POST BALAKOT
Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) has received a surge of applications to register so called ‘patriotic’ titles pertaining to the recent terrorist attack in Pulwama, and the capture of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman following aerial conflicts between India and Pakistan.
NCLT APPROVES PVR CINEMAS’ MERGER WITH SPI CINEMAS
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the merger of north India’s leading multiplex chain PVR Ltd with south India’s largest premium cinema chain SPI Cinemas. The merger will take effect after the two companies abide by a slew of directions spelt out by the Tribunal. This will make the new entity the biggest player in the film exhibition industry.
MADRAS HIGH COURT ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO FIND OUT IF TV SERIALS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIRS
In a peculiar order passed on March 5, 2019, the High Court of Madras instructed the Government to find out whether TV Shows have influenced people to have extra marital affairs, which according to them lead to a surge in crimes such as murder, assault and kidnap.
NETFLIX TO SET OWN OFFICIAL AGE RATINGS UNDER BRITISH BOARD OF FILM CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM, FOR UK
Netflix will soon collaborate with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to set the official UK age ratings, by using a new algorithm, for its entire catalogue of films and shows. Netflix will become the first company to be granted the seal of approval by BBFC to determine its own age ratings, and could be the starting point for the self-regulatory system to be extended to other streaming services.
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.
FACEBOOK PARTNERS WITH TOP MUSIC LABELS IN INDIA INCLUDING T-SERIES, ZEE MUSIC AND YASH RAJ FILMS
The social media giant Facebook, announced licensing partnership with Indian music labels such as T-series, Zee Music Company and Yash Raj Films that would allow users express themselves with music in their posts on its platform as well as on Instagram.
SUPREME COURT DIRECTS CONTINUANCE OF JUSTICE MANMOHAN SINGH AS IPAB CHAIRMAN FOR ONE YEAR, HOLDS THAT POST CANNOT REMAIN VACANT
The Supreme Court through a 3-judge bench, in the case of The International Association for Protection of Intellectual Property (India group) v. Union of India, has held the position of the Chairman cannot be held to be vacant. The SC has ordered an extension of the period of Chairmanship of Justice Manmohan Singh, for a year, from the date of his superannuation, as deemed to have not taken a break from service.
P.S. (I would like to thank Suyash Malhotra for his assistance in collating the updates and for the IPRMENTLAW team- Akshat Agrawal, Sudarshan Mohta, Angad Makkar and Anusha Das for editing the compilation).