IPRMENTLAW ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS 2020

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Wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year. As IPRMENTLAW enters its third year, keeping our tradition, we bring to you our annual media and entertainment law highlights. These highlights have been compiled by team IPRMENTLAW (Akshat Agrawal, Sudarshan Mohta, Pooja Gala, Angad Makkar, Lokesh Vyas, Harshil Dureja, Anushka Verma, Anusha Das and edited by Anushree Rauta)

 For ease of reference, we have divided the updates topic wise viz:

  • Copyright
  • Intermediary Liability
  • Hurting religious and other sentiment
  • Content Regulation
  • Privacy and Personality Rights
  • Defamation
  • Celebrities
  • Advertisement
  • CCI
  • Sports and Gaming
  • Trademark
  • Miscellaneous

I. COPYRIGHT

IPAB PASSES ORDER IN FIRST RADIO STATUTORY LICENSING CASE

IPAB passed its order in the statutory licensing applications filed by radio broadcasters against music labels. The order fixes royalties on needle per hour basis as against the net advertising revenue model which was adopted in the 2010 CRB Order. The rates have been classified based on the time slots in which the songs are played and the city in which they are broadcast, with sound recording royalty being capped at INR 750NPH and underlying works royalty being capped at INR 300 NPH. The royalty rates have been fixed for both sound recording and underlying works thus recognizing and distinguishing the rights and royalties in underlying works from sound recording royalties. The decision further recognizes that while the rates set would be a benchmark, parties are free to negotiate under voluntary licensing mechanism under Section 30 of the Copyright Act.

MULTIPLE CASES FILED BY MUSIC LABELS AGAINST SHORT VIDEO PLATFORMS ALLEGING COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

The year 2020 witnessed rising number of cases filed by music labels against short video platforms who have been claiming “intermediary” status and protection under Section 79 of the information Technology Act. Some of these cases include:

T-Series vs Roposo

T-Series filed a copyright infringement suit in Delhi HC against the mobile application, ‘Roposo’, a video sharing application (similar to TikTok) which is backed by investors Tiger Global and Bertelsmann seeking injunction to restrain Roposo from using/exploiting T-Series copyrighted work. T-Series claims that Roposo has violated its copyrighted content by exploiting the same without any license by actively modifying the music, abetting and inducing users to exploit the same for their commercial use. The manner in which the copyright of T-Series has been allegedly infringed includes illegally ripping / extracting copyrighted songs belonging to the T-Series repertoire from the phones and devices of its users especially from their Apple Music and Google Music accounts, illegally compiling the songs into a music library for use by users and brand owners and also using these songs within video advertisements and contests run by Roposo, creating effects/filters with the songs, etc. In response to the suit, Roposo filed an affidavit before the Delhi High Court, inter alia, stating that the music library in the mobile application does not contain any content belong to T-Series, it has removes the commercials/advertisements allegedly containing the sound recording owned by T-Series that were cited by T-Series in the suit, the mobile application does not permit the accessing of the phone music folder, it does not have the local library feature hence the question of ripping/illegally extracting songs from users devices (Apple Music and Google Music accounts) does not arise, it has disabled the extracting/ripping of sound recording along with underlying literary and musical works from videos of other users. On hearing the matter and placing Roposo’s affidavit on record, the Delhi High Court vide an order dated August 31, 2020 denied an ad-interim injunction and held that without hearing the parties on the application, it would not be appropriate to pass an ad-interim injunction of a sweeping nature as sought by T-Series. Access Link: Source (here).

Similar cases were filed by Saregama against Chingari, Tips against 13 short video platforms and unknown defendants (John Doe). These cases are pending before Delhi High Court.

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

ISRA MOVES DELHI HIGH COURT AGAINST DHARMA PRODUCTIONS PVT. LTD FOR CLAIMING PERFORMERS’ ROYALTIES QUA SONGS SYNCHED IN GUNJAN SAXENA

The Delhi High Court has issued summons against Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd (“Dharma”), in a suit filed by Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA) claiming that Dharma released the cinematograph film “Gunjan Saxena- The Kargil Girl” by commercially utilizing three performances of the members of the ISRA which were originally part of cinematograph films. ISRA on becoming aware of the infringement of its rights had issued a legal notice to Dharma claiming that ISRA members had the copyright in respect of the performers’ rights in ‘Ae Ji O Ji’ from the cinematograph film ‘Ram Lakhan’, ‘Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai’ from the cinematograph film ‘Khalnayak’ and ‘Saajan ji Gher Aaye’ from the film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”. In furtherance to this, ISRA seeks royalty from Dharma for commercial exploitation of performance of ISRA’s members. ISRA urged the Court that as per Copyright Act the tariff for the performers’ rights is fixed and Dharma should be made to deposit the said amount before Court. Dharma defended ISRA’s claim on the ground that studio performances are not live and therefore do not qualify for any royalty. The Court opined that issue of Dharma’s performer’s right was triable and matter will be heard further on 12th March 2021. (Order: here)

SCI-HUB AND LIBGEN, ONLINE RESEARCH FACILITATING AND SUPPOSEDLY ACADEMIC “PIRACY” WEBSITES SUED BY PUBLISHERS FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Top tier publishing houses in academia- Elseiver, Wiley and the American Chemical Institute have filed an injunction suit against the websites SciHub and Libgen for copyright infringement before the Delhi HC seeking damages. The contentions of the plaintiffs are that they have exclusive rights to communicate their literary works to the public and that no other entity can host, distribute or make these works available to the public, in any manner. Further they also pleaded that Sci Hub as well as Libgen were substantially indulged in online piracy by providing access to their copyrighted content. The infringing activity has been on since 2011 in one form or the other, they contended. A Single Judge Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakhder has issued summons in the concerned suit, although raised a question about the delay of the publishers in waking up. This is going to be one of the revolutionary copyright cases in 2021.

SHIVANI TIBREWALA V/S RAJAT MUKHERJEE: BOMBAY HIGH COURT REITERATES NO COPYRIGHT IN AN IDEA

Plaintiff Shivani Tibrewala had filed a copyright infringement suit against Rajat Mukherjee alleging that their cinematographic work named “Umeed” is a substantial reproduction or altered copy of her script of the play “The Laboratory”. The theme of the script was on clinical trials.

The court, relying on the principles laid down in R.G. Anand v/s. Delux Films, held that the work of the Defendant does not amount to infringement of copyright of Plaintiff. The decision was based on the Court not finding any substantial similarities in the protectable elements of the works in question. The Court further noted that there cannot be a monopoly on a theme of illegal drug trial or big pharmaceutical companies indulging in it and that the Defendants have prima facie proved that their work is original and has been independently arrived at.

Read order here.

BOMBAY HIGH COURT REFUSES TO GRANT AN INJUNCTION AGAINST NETFLIX’S BETAAL

The Bombay High Court refused to grant an interim injunction against the release of Netflix’s web-series Betaal. The application was filed by Mr. Sameer Wadekar on the  grounds that one of his scripts titled “Vetaal” which is registered with the Screenwriter’s Association in 2015, was copied to make the Netflix series and such act has infringed copyright. Wadekar claimed that he had found 146 similarities between his script and trailer of 146 seconds of the series Betaal. On the contrary, Netflix had argued that the “Betaal” was originally created without any reference or knowledge of Mr. Wadekar’s screenplay or concept and the similarities that were highlighted were mere ideas which are generic and do not have any copyright-able elements. Justice Shriram refused to grant the injunction and granted liberty to the Plaintiff to amend the plea to include claim and damages. The matter has been listed for hearing after 8 weeks.  Access Link: Source (here) and Order (here)

SINGARDAAN COPYRIGHT CASE

Shamoil Ahmad Khan wrote a story called Singardaan in Urdu which was published in a literary magazine in 1993 and was translated in Hindi in 1994. It was also published again in the year 1996 by the Khan. In 2019, a web-series was produced under the same title ‘Singardaan’ that was launched on an application called ‘Ullu’. Khan claimed that the web-series was a copy of his story including the plot, characters and theme. After comparing the two works, the Court was of the opinion that the web series constituted all the essential elements of Khan’s work. As the web-series was up and running since 2019, the Court considered the totality of the circumstances and instead of granting an injunction to the movie, the defendants were asked to maintain accounts of profits made by the web-series since its inception. Furthermore, any further adaptation or derivative works of the web-series was also restrained. Access Link: Source (here)

SCRIPTWRITERS PLEA FOR INJUNCTION ON RELEASE OF FILM ‘LOOTCASE’ ON HOTSTAR REJECTED BY DELHI HC

In a latest, landmark judgment titled Vinay Vats v. Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. delivered on July 30, 2020, the Delhi High Court has reaffirmed that there can be no copyright in an idea/theme. While holding thus, it refused to pass an injunction order, restraining the release of Film ‘Lootcase’ on Hotstar hours before its scheduled release on July 31, 2020.  The Delhi High Court pointed out that the Plaintiff Neeraj Kishan Kaul based his cause of action on a script, which never came in the public domain, and public knowledge of which is being sought to be attributed on the basis of a trailer, for a film which never saw the light of day. “The mere fact that certain plot points, between the plaintiff’s script and the story of the upcoming film ―Lootcase as reflected in the trailer, released on YouTube, may be common, cannot be the basis to lay a claim to copyright, as the plaintiff has chosen to so,” – the court said. Access Link: Source (here)

AMITABH BACHCHAN STARRER ‘JHUND’ RECEIVES STAY ORDER OVER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Telangana High Court has ordered a complete stay on the release of Jhund in India, abroad, and digital platforms. The claim of the Petitioner is that he owns the exclusive rights to the story of the footballer Akhilesh Paul on whose life the film is based and hence the film infringes upon his copyright. The petitioner has alleged in his claims that the footballer Akhilesh Paul cheated him. Access Link: Source (here)

GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS TO DISCUSS ISSUES PERTAINING TO COPYRIGHT

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) called for a meeting on February 13, 2020 in New Delhi to discuss the stakeholder issues pertaining to copyrights, the provisions under the Copyright Act, 1957 and the rules framed thereunder.

The list of stakeholders included networks and broadcasters, radio broadcasters, online streaming services, music labels, copyright societies and hotel associations.

The meeting witnessed demand of a single copyright society by some stakeholders. The Government has called for written suggestions to be provided by the stakeholders’ post which another meeting would be scheduled by end of March, 2020.

Another consultation meeting was called by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to discuss the matter of registration of multiple copyright societies as opposed to single copyright society in a single class of work. Some of the stakeholders include Television and radio broadcasting organizations, Internet broadcasters, Hotel Associations, Copyright Societies, etc. The issue to be discussed is – section 33 of (3) of the Copyright Act, 1957 contains a proviso stating that “Provided that the Central Government shall not ordinarily register more than one copyright society to do business in respect of the same class of works”. Access Link: Source (here)

MIB SEEKS TO DECRIMINALISE MINOR OFFENCES UNDER THE CABLE TV NETWORKS ACT

MIB is looking at decriminalising minor offences under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. As part of the ongoing exercise to reform governance, MIB is looking forward to removing jail terms for violating the Act (Sections 16, 17 and 18). According to the new proposal, punishments for offences committed under the Act would be limited to a graded set of penalties, such as issuing advisory, warnings, prohibition of transmission of offending programme, running apology scrolls and giving the channel an opportunity to explain, and thereafter a ban of up to 30 days on the broadcasting of the channel or cancellation of the license depending on the offence. The proposal has been opened for comments from the general public as well. Access link: Source (here)

GOVT TO CONSIDER PROPOSAL TO ALLOW MULTIPLE COPYRIGHT SOCIETIES FOR SINGLE CLASS OF WORK

Urged by regional music and film industry, the Government is planning to look at proposals to have multiple copyright societies for the same sector, and will have a critical discussion on the same. According to the note of the meeting, commerce minister Piyush Goyal was to attend the online meeting held on 10th November, 2020. Among the participants forming part of the consultation process were broadcasting organisations, including News Broadcasters Association, Doordarshan, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Association for Radio Operators for India, heads of many private TV and radio companies, Music Composers Association of India, copyright societies, hotel associations and representatives from the Internet and Mobile Association of India, and Netflix. Access Link: Source (here)

GOVERNMENT STARTS PRIVATE CONSULTATION TO AMEND COPYRIGHT ACT

The Registrar of Copyrights has indicated that the government may soon make amendments to the Copyright Act, according to an email to industry associations and law firms. An amendment of the Copyright Act could have significant ramifications for technology policy — issues like digital rights management, online piracy, statutory licensing, intermediary liability, and live performances online are concerns that the industry may push to formalise changes. Access Link: Source (here)

GOVERNMENT INVITES COMMENTS ON REGISTRATION OF SCREENWRITERS RIGHTS ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (SRAI) AS A COPYRIGHT SOCIETY.

The Copyright Office vide its public notice dated November 27, 2020 has invited for objections/ comments, if any from public/ stakeholders, in respect of application filed by Screenwriters Rights Association of India (SRAI) for registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act in literary and dramatic works such as story, script, screenplay, dialogues or any other literary works (excluding lyrics).

While SRAI’s registration as a copyright society, if achieved, will definitely help in the writers collecting royalties, it would be an uphill task to see the implementation where all rights in the film are owned by producers. This registration is bound to change the dynamics of the way the audio-visual industry currently works in India.

PARLIAMENT PANEL ASKS I&B MINISTRY TO INCLUDE ”FAIR-USE” CLAUSE IN CINEMATOGRAPH BILL

A parliamentary standing committee has noted that the amendments proposed in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to check film piracy do not provide for “adequate safeguards” to the people who share film clip on various social media platforms as memes, jokes and for other non-commercial purposes. It noted that in the absence of the “fair use” provision in the Bill, there will be no protection to “someone who forwards a film clip/short extract of movies as memes, jokes etc., for non-commercial purposes.” The Bill seeks to deal with the menace of film piracy by introduction of stringent penal provisions for unauthorised cam-cording and digital duplication of films. It provides for handing down a maximum three years of imprisonment to the convicts of film piracy, and/or imposition of a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh on them.

INDIAN RECORD MANUFACTURING CO MOVES MADRAS HIGH COURT AGAINST ILAYARAJA AND OTHERS

M/s Indian Record Manufacturing Co filed a copyright infringement suit against Agi Music, Ilayaraja and Unisys Info Solutions in the Madras High Court seeking injunction against them from exploiting the plaintiff’s copyright over musical works and sound recordings in certain films.

The Court held that in the absence of contract to the contrary, the producers of the respective films are the first owners of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings in a cinematograph film.

The court noted that since M/s Indian Record Manufacturing Co.  has obtained the copyright by assignment, being a written document signed by the assignor. Thereby, they become the owner of the said copyright.

Illaiyaraja, the author of the musical work, had not produced proof to show the producers have given up their ownership in his favour. Hence the court ruled in favour of the plaintiff and held that Ilayaraja  did not own the copyrights in 22 film soundtracks that belonged to music label The Indian Record Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Inreco). Our articles on this – here and here

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED V. MOVIESTRUNK.COM AND OTHERS

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

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

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

SAREGAMA RAISES A COPYRIGHT VIOLATION CLAIM AGAINST DD NATIONAL AND LATER CALLS IT A GLITCH

Just after the prosperous 74th Independence celebrations, SaReGaMa raised a copyright claim against the state owned channel, Doordarshan National (DD National). DD National aired a video of defense officials, both men and women, singing to the tunes of “Sare Jahan Se Acha”. The video was uploaded on various social media handles belonging to DD National including Twitter and YouTube. CEO of DD National, Mr. Shashi S. Vempati took his disappointment to twitter saying that it raises serious questions on the basis for these copyright claims. What is the basis for SaReGaMa to claim copyright on “Saare Jahan Se Accha” performance by the Tri-services band? The Music Company later apologised by clarifying that it was a glitch. As a part of the system driven automatic copyright claims activity, this unintentional incident happened. They have removed the claim. Access Link: Source (here)

SG250 SHOOT HALTED UNTIL THE COPYRIGHT CASE IS RESOLVED.

The Ernakulam District Court has ordered stay on the shooting and other activities until the copyright case filed by Kaduva writer Jinu Abraham is resolved. The court announced the verdict on August 19, 2020. The district court announced the verdict almost 50 days after issuing a temporary stay on all the activities of SG 250. In his complaint, Kaduva writer Jinu Abraham has alleged that the story and characters of SG 250 have been plagiarised from the script of the Prithviraj Sukumaran-starrer. The Kerala High Court had earlier ordered a temporary stay on the shooting and promotional activities of the film, for the alleged violation of copyright laws. Access Link: Source (here)

TWITTER REMOVES A MUSIC VIDEO FROM TRUMP’S PAGE OVER A COMPLAINT

Twitter has removed a post tweeted by Trump after receiving a copyright claim from musician Eddy Grant. Grant’s hit song ‘Electric Avenue’ appeared in the video that Trump had shared without his permission. This is not the first instance where Twitter had to remove media content from Trump’s account over copyright violations. A video shared from the official White House account earlier was pulled down over Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice. The video had used a Linkin Park music which the band stated had been used without their permission. Access Link: Source (here)

NETFLIX’S ENOLA HOLMES SUED FOR MAKING HENRY CAVILL’S SHERLOCK ‘TOO NICE’

The estate of original author Arthur Conan Doyle owns copyright for the final ten stories in the series, and has filed a lawsuit against Neflix, production company Legendary Pictures, book publishers Penguin Random House and others, including Nancy Springer. It claims that the final ten stories are the ones in which Sherlock becomes warmer and more friendly, and so it was an infringement of copyright to depict him behaving so in the Enola Holmes film. Access Link: Source (here)

‘CHHAPAAK’ CREDITS ROW: FOX STAR STUDIOS AGREES TO ACKNOWLEDGE LAWYER APARNA BHAT’S CONTRIBUTION IN INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION OF THE FILM

Lawyer Aparna Bhat had filed a contempt petition in the Delhi High Court against the makers of the movie ‘Chhapaak’ for not acknowledging her contribution in the copies screened internationally. The petition was filed after the makers abided by the previous order of the Delhi High Court and acknowledged Bhat’s contribution by adding the line, “Inputs by Ms. Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal are acknowledged” in the copies of the film distributed in Indian theatres.

Fox Star Studios contended that they had misconstrued this order to be only directed towards domestic exhibition of the film, and had in fact not added the line in the copies screened internationally. Pursuant to the clarification, Fox Star Studios has assented to adding the acknowledgment line in overseas screening, as well as donating Rs. 50 lakh for the larger public good.

PLAGIARISM ALLEGATIONS AGAINST KAJOL STARRER ‘DEVI’

Abhishek Rai, who works at AndaKurry Productions, has accused makers of Kajol-starrer ‘Devi’ of plagiarising their short film ‘Four’. He alleged the film has “heavy resemblance” with their film that they made when they were in film school.

The film depicts how nine women belonging to different strata of society are brought together by circumstance and end up forming a sisterhood after they share their stories of abuse.

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

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

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

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

Singer Ritiviz has accused T-Series of plagiarism.

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

EROS DIRECTED TO PAY RS.19.3 LAKHS TO BHANSALI PRODUCTION

In 2013, Bhansali Production and Eros International Media Limited co-produced a blockbuster movie titled – ‘Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela’ and had a strict understanding regarding any further exploitation rights of the same. This year, Eros announced a merger with foreign companies based out of California (USA) and the British Isles (UK) and the companies started to use the poster of the film to highlight this merger. Bhansali Productions invoked the arbitration clause from the contract that restrained Eros from either selling, exploiting and renewing the rights of the film. The hearing was postponed due to the involvement of foreign parties, but the Court ordered Eros to pay dues of Rs. 19.3 Lakhs within three weeks due to a breach by Eros of the co-production agreement. Access Link: Source (here)

IPRS  WITHDRAWS THE TARIFF FOR LIVE STREAMING PERFORMANCES

The Indian Performing Rights Society had revised its tariff scheme with effect from July 1, 2020 (Read the tariff here), to the effect that the artists or organisers livestreaming performances were to be charged a minimum of ₹20,000 fee, plus taxes for free/ad supported/ticketed events (without sponsors) and a minimum of ₹60,000 for sponsored or ticketed events (with sponsors). The tariffs were to apply to music as well as literary works, subject to the approval by the General Body of IPRS. IPRS has withdrawn this order followed by the concerns expressed by the various stakeholders. Further, a clarification was issued by IPRS (Read the order here) clarifying that IPRS will not charge any license fee/royalty from the following categories of live online shows/streaming events: a) Free Events on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram which are not sponsored/ branded or co-branded/ticketed/or paid for in any way or form (This will extend as long as the lockdown/Covid crisis continues), b) Classical Music events / Classical Music Singers, c) Devotional Music events / Devotional Music Singers, d) Folk Music events/ Folk Music Singers. IPRS has further clarified that the tariffs shall be revised and rationalised to strike a balance between the creators of music and other stakeholders. Access link: Source (here and here)

ZEE5 ANNOUNCES SHORT VIDEO PLATFORM: HiPi

Content Platform, Zee5 shall enter the developing market of user generated short video content application.  There shall not be a separate app for the same and HiPi shall function from the Zee5 app itself. The same is scheduled to launch somewhere in September, 2020. Access link: Source (here)

FACEBOOK CLAIMS THAT THEY CAN NOT BLOCK GROUPS WITHOUT A COURT ORDER

Facebook has submitted to the Delhi High Court that it has all regulatory measures such as community standards, third party fact checkers, reporting tools and AI to detect and prevent the spread of inappropriate content on Facebook. Facebook has further submitted that they cannot remove an allegedly illegal group (for example, the infamous ‘Bois Locker Room’) as the same comes under the discretionary powers of the government granted to them according to the Information Technology Act and any blanket direction to social media platforms to remove such groups would amount to interfering with such discretionary powers. Facebook has further contended that the Supreme Court has held that an intermediary, like itself, may be compelled to block content only upon receipt of a court order or a direction issued under the IT Act. Access link: Source (here)

HIGH COURT STAYS FILMING OF SURESH GOPI’S 250TH FILM AFTER PLAGIARISM PLEA

Suresh Gopi will not be playing Kaduvakunnel Kuruvachan anymore after the High Court upheld the Ernakulam District Court’s decision to stay the filming and promotion of the Mathews Thomas Plammoottil directorial. The High Court heard the case and upheld the district court’s decision. It found that the makers of #SG250, who had earlier worked with Jinu Abraham, had plagiarised the script and decided to make their film, with the intent of sabotaging plans of Kaduva. Access Link: Source (here)

DELHI HIGH COURT INJUNCTS UNAUTHORISED BROADCAST OF INDIA-AUSTRALIA INTERNATIONAL CRICKET 2020 SERIES BY WEBSITES ON SONY PICTURES’S PLEA.

On hearing a plea filed by Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd, the Delhi High court has ordered an injunction to unauthorize broadcasting of international test series from websites like www.b1.mylivecricket.biz and others. The plea claimed Sony has exclusive media distribution right in the upcoming India Australia International Cricket Series, 2020. The court also instructed ISPs to block the website which does unauthorized broadcasting/ transmission of the match.

BADSHAH’S “GENDA PHOOL” MUSTERED IN CONTROVERSY

Badshah’s song “genda phool” released by T-Series, received huge amounts of criticism due to its alleged plagiarism of a folk song written and composed by folk artist – Ratan Kuhar- who was not even accredited, let alone being compensated for his work. The song released in late march and Badhshah was credited for the lyrics. This has however changed since, as due to the controversy, Badhshah ended up promising to accredited and pay Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation for the use of the lyrics. Read more here.

LICENSING AGREEMENT BETWEEN SONY PICTURES AND IPRS

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has entered into a licensing agreement with the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS). Pursuant to this agreement, Sony shall be able to use the IPRS music bank for its digital broadcasts. With this licensing agreement, Sony shall now be able to access the vast music bank from thousands of authors, composers and music publishers who are members of IPRS.

to the IAMAI recording their dissent to the code, and asking for its recall.

LICENSING DEAL : IPRS  AND FACEBOOK

The Indian Performing Rights Society(IPRS) has successfully signed a licensing deal with Facebook that allows the content by members of IPRS to be consumed by users on both Facebook and Instagram. People will now be able to choose music from the IPRS repertoire with hundreds and thousands of songs, to add in their own videos they share on Facebook and Instagram, as well as other social features like Music Stickers and Stories. Further, this deal also covers licensing and royalties whenever music represented by the society is used on these platforms. Pursuant to this deal, users can now choose and add music from the repertoire to their videos on Instagram’s newly launched Reel (similar to Tiktok that is now banned in the country). Access link: Source (here)

IPRS SIGNS LICENSING DEAL WITH HUNGAMA MUSIC

The Indian Performing Right Society Limited has signed a licensing deal with Hungama Music, making it the first major licensing deal with an Indian music streaming platform. The partnership endorses fair trade music for transparent and ethical value chain for authors, composers, and all music rights holders. This licensing deal aims at helping original creators of music earn fair remuneration for their work with the well-deserved royalties. Access Link: Source (here)

SPOTIFY-SAREGAMA LICENSING DEAL

New licensing partnership for India of Spotify and Saregama, the Indian music label. Under this partnership Saregama’s entire catalogue will now be available for users in India. This licensing partnership will allow users to 100,000 songs from Saregama’s catalogue in over 25 languages. Access Link: Source (here)

FACEBOOK AND SAREGAMA ANNOUNCE LICENSING DEAL

Saregama announced a huge deal with Facebook which would allow the users to choose from a variety of music that they can add to their social media experience, that includes videos, stories and even their profile photos. These services also extend to other platforms owned by Facebook such as Instagram. Saregama boasts a catalogue of over 100,00 songs that include most of the Indian music legends. Access Link: Source (here)

FACEBOOK AND TIPS ANNOUNCE LICENSING DEAL

Tips Music announced its licensing deal with Facebook which would enable users to use music from Tips repertoire in their social media experience.

INDIA’S HOMEGROWN SOCIAL MEDIA APP, SHARECHAT, SIGNS MUSIC LICENSING DEAL WITH T-SERIES

One of the country’s biggest record labels, T-Series, has entered into an agreement with social media venture ShareChat-built video platform Moj to license its music catalogue on the platforms. Due to this agreement, users on ShareChat and Moj would now be able to explore hundreds and thousands of songs from the T-Series music library, and add to their own videos. This is ShareChat’s first partnership in the music licensing space. Representatives for T-Series and ShareChat laid emphasis on the importance of not just providing more music to more users, but also on “respecting the copyrights”. Access Link: Source (here).

TRILLER SIGNS PARTNERSHIP DEAL WITH JIOSAAVN

A US-based photo and video sharing app, Triller, and JioSaavn, a streaming platform for South Asian music and audio entertainment, have entered a long-term exclusive partnership. As per partnership terms, JioSaavn would embed Triller videos on its streamer. Triller is an AI-powered music video app that allows users to create professional-looking videos in a matter of seconds and currently claims to have recorded over 250 million globally. Triller has recently announced the strategic appointment of Raj Mishra as Country Manager and Head of Operations for India, who was the former Country Manager at TikTok India, erstwhile Musically. Triller has announced its India expansion plans after ByteDance-owned TikTok’s ban in the country. Access Link: Source (here).

CHINGARI ENTERS INTO A MUSIC LICENSING DEAL WITH T-SERIES

Chingari, an Indian short-video platform, entered into a licensing deal with T-series, allowing users of Chingari in India, West Asia and SAARC nations to access music owned by T-Series. Access Link: Source (here)

ZEE MUSIC CO. INKS A GLOBAL LICENSING DEAL WITH MOJ & SHARECHAT

Indian Music label Zee Music Co. has recently announced licensing rights of its music to social media platforms, ShareChat and Moj. Users of both these platforms will be able to use songs from the Zee Music library and create their video content. Access Link: Source (here)

SHARECHAT STRIKES GLOBAL MUSIC LICENSING DEAL WITH TIMES MUSIC

Social media platform ShareChat has signed a global music licensing deal with Times Music* to bolster its music catalogue on its flagship app and short-video platform Moj. This deal will allow users to make use of the label’s music to create video content on both platforms. Access Link: Source (here)

WARNER INKS DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH BOLLYWOOD SPECIALIST TIPS MUSIC IN INDIA

Warner Music has stepped up its presence in India by signing a distribution deal with Tips Music, the hugely popular Bollywood music company. The label’s repertoire will be distributed locally by Warner Music India and internationally by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), the global independent distribution division of Warner Music. Access Link: Source (here)

SPOTIFY AND WARNER CHAPPELL SIGN GLOBAL LICENSING DEAL – INCLUDING INDIA

Warner Chappell and Spotify announced a global licensing agreement which includes India. Warner Chappell confirmed in a statement that it had signed a fresh multi-territory licensing agreement with Spotify which includes India, and that therefore the parties had jointly asked the High Court to dismiss the pending litigation.

Warner Chappel had dragged Spotify to the Bombay High Court last year. In the litigation going on between the two parties, Spotify had contested that its use of Chappell’s catalog was protected by a statutory licence in India – one that had been previously applied to radio broadcasters; Warner had argued that this contention was invalid, and that an injunction should be granted banning Spotify from using its music and additionally a payment of damages. Source (here) 

II. INTERMEDIARY LIABILITY

MEITY BLOCKS 59 CHINESE MOBILE APPLICATIONS

On July 29, 2020, MEITY has decided to block 59 mobile applications inter alia TikTok, Cam Scanner, Shein, WeChat under its powers under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, stating that they are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. Access link: Source (here)

MEITY SENDS TIKTOK A QUESTIONNAIRE AFTER THE BAN

MEITY has sent to TikTok, a questionnaire after the app with 58 other applications, was banned on July 29, 2020. As per a report, there are multiple questions in this questionnaire revolving around the financial structure of these companies, the beneficial owner, the country of incorporation, the parent company, board of directors and location of their data centres. All 59 apps have received this questionnaire. Access link: Source (here)

DELHI HC DIRECTS ISPs TO BLOCK WEBSITES ILLEGALLY STREAMING DISNEY CARTOONS

In a suit filed by Disney claiming that a total of 118 rogue websites are indulging in digital piracy by illegally streaming content in which Disney holds copyright, Delhi HC has directed Internet Service Providers to block these websites and restrain them from, in any manner, hosting, streamlining, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, programme and show in which the Disney has copyright. Access link: Source (here) 

ISRA SERVES LEGAL NOTICES TO DISNEY + HOTSTAR, FACEBOOK & YOUTUBE TRILLER, ROPOSO & TAKA TAK FOR SINGERS RIGHT TO RECEIVE ROYALTY

Legal notices served to Disney + Hotstar, Facebook & Youtube Triller, Roposo & Taka Tak by ISRA to pay to the singers royalties in respect of their statutory Right to Receive Royalty under the performer’s rights provisions of the Copyright Act for the utilization and exploitation of such performances across various mediums and modes. Access Link: Source (here)

USER RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTENT: TWITTER TO TELANGANA HIGH COURT

Twitter.inc has appealed against a PIL made by Advocate Khaja Aijazuddin stating that the company is being responsible for trending ‘Communal Hashtags’ in India. Twitter Inc. stated to the Telangana High Court that it neither reviews nor edits the content of a tweet, including hashtags, prior to it being posted on Twitter. When the matter came up for hearing before division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Viijaysen Reddy, advocate Aijazuddin sought some time to file reply to Twitter’s counter affidavit and also urged the court to direct the Centre to file counter affidavit in the case. Access Link: Source (here)

BOMBAY HC ORDERS REINSTATEMENT OF YOUTUBE LINKS OF 5 MOVIES

A Suit was filed before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court for reinstatement of the YouTube links of the films “Ustadon Ke Ustad”, “Soutela”, “Namak”, Khopdi” and “Bijli” on the YouTube channel “NH Studioz”, owned by M/s Narendra Hirawat & Co. The Hon’ble Court observed that as per YouTube policy, 14-15 days’ time is given to the issuer of the Copyright Takedown Notice to provide evidence that they have taken legal action against the publisher of a video/clip to prevent the reinstatement of the videos in question and if YouTube does not receive any response, then the publisher’s videos will be restored and associated penalties on the YouTube accounts will be resolved. Accordingly, the Hon’ble Court passed the order to reinstate the YouTube links of the movies. Access Link: Source (here)

YOUTUBE TO LAUNCH SHORT-VIDEO FEATURE SHORTS IN INDIA

YouTube has announced the launch of short-video format ‘Shorts’ in India, Short is a short-video experience on YouTube for creators, influencers and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos. This move of YouTube comes after the TikTok ban to fill the gap left for short video content. Facebook launched Instagram Reels inside the app right after India banned TikTok in June. Access Link: Source (here) 

III. HURTING RELIGIOUS AND OTHER SENTIMENTS

KARNI SENA DISRUPTS SHOOT OF ‘PRITHVIRAJ’

The Karni Sena has asked the producers of Prithviraj, an upcoming movie featuring Akshay Kumar, not to tamper with facts. Members of the outfit, led by its national president Mahipal Singh Makrana, staged a stir at the shooting of the film in Jamwaramgarh village, near Jaipur, and asked the director, Chandra Prakash, to stop the shooting. Prakash assured them that there was no tampering with historic facts in the film’s script. However, the Karni Sena demanded a written assurance.

AAP: CLAIMING COPYRIGHT ON RELAY OF ‘GURBANI’ AMOUNTS TO SACRILEGE

Senior AAP leader and Kotkapura legislator, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, said that terming the broadcast of Gurbani Kirtan from Golden Temple by PTC channel, owned by the Badal family, as their personal property possessed at a price, had deeply hurt the religious sentiments of millions of Sikhs across the world.

The MLA demanded that the Jathedar of Akal Takht should direct SGPC to initiate action against the individual or company, which was trying to monopolize the broadcast of Sarb Sanjhi Gurbani and let the ‘sangat’ enjoy the divine renderings unhindered. He added that the management of the SGPC should be freed from the Badals and entrusted to those who could restore it to its old glory.

There is already a controversy raging in the state on whether a particular company can be given the exclusive rights to telecast the live transmission of Gurbani from the Golden Temple. The Congress has also levelled accusations that since the PTC channel is owned by the Badal family, the SGPC has given the channel undue favours by giving it sole right for transmission. The PTC Channel has refuted these allegations and has asserted that the rights have been given to their company through a valid agreement signed with the SGPC.

Suspended AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu said that the original agreement between SGPC and a private channel, ETC, had been signed by Jagir Kaur, the then president of SGPC. Sandhu said that no tenders had been floated while awarding a 10-year contract for the telecast rights to PTC in 2012.

BHARTI SINGH GRANTED RELIEF BY PUNJAB & HARYANA HC IN CASE OF OFFENDING RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

In December 2019, comedian Bharti Singh, actress Raveena Tandon and filmmaker Farah Khan appeared in a show telecast on a digital platform. In the show, the three were shown trying to pronounce the word “Hallelujah”. An FIR was filed against them alleging that they had trivialised the word, and offended the sentiments of the Christian Community.

On 27 January, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted relief to comedian Bharti Singh in this matter. The court issued directions to the state to not initiate any coercive actions against the comedian till the pendency of the petition.

The other 2 Bollywood personalities had already been granted relief by the Court earlier this month. The petitions by all 3 personalities will be heard further on March 25.

FATWAS ISSUED TO MALALA BIOPIC DIRECTOR FOR “DISRESPECTING THE QURAN”

Director Amjad Khan has received a fatwa by a Noida based Muslim cleric, alleging that he has disrespected the Holy Quran. Khan’s film Gul Makai is based on the education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. The poster of the film shows a girl standing in front of an explosion with a book in her hand. The fatwa issued states that the book is in fact the Quran and the poster disrespects the holy book. Stating that this is a huge misunderstanding, and the book is in fact an English book, the filmmaker wished to make known that he has made a film on peace, with no intention of hurting the religious sentiments of any community.

KUNJALI MARAKKAR BIOPIC RUNS INTO CONTROVERSY

A descendant of Kunjali Marakkar  filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court seeking to stop the release of the upcoming Arabikadalinte Simham (Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea) based on Kunjali Marakkar IV, the naval chieftain of the Zamorin of Calicut

The suit, filed by Mufeeda Arafath Marakkar, wife of Muhammed Yaser Arafath Marakkar of Koyilandy, says the big-budget movie sends  a bad message to people through a wrong version of the history of the Marakkars.

The epic historical drama, directed by Priyadarshan,  is scheduled to release on March 26 and it is said to be the most expensive Malayalam Movie ever made.

The petitioner alleges that the film offends the religious sentiments of Muslims by showing the great martyr in poor light. Kunjali Marakkar is portrayed as a romantic hero and who dances and sings around women

Petitioner also believes that  the history of Kunjali Marakkar is a part of the school curriculum and if this movie version is shown, it would have a serious impact on the minds of the children in their formative years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOMBAY HC STAYS PROBE AGAINST BAND ACCUSED OF HURTING RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLAINT AGAINST SADAK 2 MAKERS FOR HURTING HINDU SENTIMENTS

A complaint has been filed by Advocate Vinay Pandey against filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt, Mukesh Bhatt and actor Alia Bhatt, who’ve been accused of hurting Hindu sentiments by using an image of Kailash Mansarover in the poster of Sadak 2. The complaint has been made under IPC Section 295A (deliberately outraging religious feelings) and 120B (Criminal conspiracy). Access link: Source (here)

GUWAHATI HIGH COURT OVERTURNS AN ORDER BANNING ASSAMESE TV SERIAL ‘BEGUM JAAN’ TEMPORARILY FOR 2 MONTHS AFTER HINDU GROUPS ACCUSE IT OF PROMOTING ‘LOVE JIHAD’

An order banning airing of a TV show ‘Begum Jaan’ for a period of two months was passed by the City Police Commissioner, the order, was imposed under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 for outraging the ‘religious sentiments’ of a particular section of the society. The ban was appealed by the Petitioner and it was argued that as per the latest guidelines of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting a representative from the electronic media was also to be included in the monitoring committee. The Hon’ble Guwahati High Court set aside the ban on learning that the impugned order was passed without hearing the affected parties and without conforming to the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1994 and gave a green light for telecasting of the show while also advising the channel to delete before airing any content that may “harm the religious sentiment of any community”. Access Link: Source (here)

FIR REGISTERED IN MADHYA PRADESH AGAINST NETFLIX FOR ‘TEMPLE KISSING’ SHOTS

An FIR was registered against two officials of Netflix in Rewa, MP over the alleged shooting of kissing scenes for the Netflix Film ‘A Suitable Boy’ at a temple in Maheshwar. The FIR has been lodged over sentiments of a particular community being hurt by the shooting of the said scene at a temple. The IPC carries 3 years’ imprisonment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. Access Link: Source (here)

AKSHAY KUMAR-STARRER LAXMMI BOMB NOW TITLED ‘LAXMII’ FOLLOWING PROTESTS FROM HINDU OUTFITS

The title of Akshay Kumar’s upcoming film Laxmmi Bomb has now been changed to Laxmii. As per reports, the producers changed the name of the film after several Hindu outfits protested against the title Laxmmi Bomb, alleging that it hurt religious sentiments and was an insult to Goddess Laxmi. Karni Sena had reportedly sent a legal notice to the makers of the film demanding a change in the title.

MADHYA PRADESH POLICE REGISTERS FIR AGAINST NETFLIX OVER TEMPLE KISSING SCENES IN ‘A SUITABLE BOY’.

An FIR has been registered in Madhya Pradesh, under Section 295-A of the IPC against 2 executives of the streaming platform ‘Netflix’ for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through its web series “A Suitable Boy” which showed kissing scenes between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a Hindu temple

RAJASTHAN: JODHPUR COURT ISSUES NOTICE TO PRODUCER-DIRECTOR PRAKASH JHA AND BOBBY DEOL FOR WEB SERIES ‘AASHRAM’

Jodhpur Court has issued notice to producer-director Mr. Prakash Jha and actor Mr. Bobby Deol in a lawsuit filed against web series titled ‘Ashram’ streaming on OTT platform. The Petitioner claimed that portrayal of Bobby Deol as a Hindu saint/godman being shown as a rapist, corrupt and drug dealer has diminished the place saints hold for Hindus and this has hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus, who respect and worship saints. The matter has been scheduled for further bearing on 11th January 2021.

SUPREME COURT GRANTS INTERIM PROTECTION FROM ARREST TO EKTA KAPOOR ON FIR AGAINST HER OVER ALLEGED OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT IN WEB-SERIES XXX SEASON 2

The Supreme Court granted film-maker Ekta Kapoor an interim protection from arrest in the FIR filed against her for the allegedly objectionable content in the second season of the ALT Balaji web series titled “XXX”. The FIR was filed against her was objectionable content in the second season of the ALT Balaji web series titled “XXX” being obscene, hurtful of religious sentiments and disrespectful of the National Emblem.

LEGAL NOTICE TO OTT PLATFORM MX PLAYER FOR ‘TRANSPHOBIC’ CONTENT IN ITS WEB-SERIES TITLED “PATI, PATNI AUR PANGA”

A cease-and-desist notice has been sent to MX player as well as the Times Group for soon to be aired web series titled “Pati, Patni aur Panga” objecting to the series content. The Trans Equality Society stated that the romantic comedy series has “transphobic, misogynistic, defamatory and malicious content about members of the transgender community.” The notice demands that the series not be aired on MX player, and its trailer and all online content associated with it be withdrawn.

AKSHAY KUMAR-STARRER LAXMMI BOMB NOW TITLED ‘LAXMI’ FOLLOWING PROTESTS FROM HINDU OUTFITS

Karni Sena had reportedly sent a legal notice to the makers of the film demanding a change in the title. After several Hindus protested against the title ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, the producers changed the movie name to ‘Laxmii’. Access Link: Source (here)

SUIT FILED AGAINST ALIA BHATT, SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI & OTHRS OVER `INDECENT REPRESENTATION` IN FILM “GANGUBAI KATHIAWADI”

A suit has been filed by Gangubai’s son Babuji Rawji Shah (“Plaintiff”) against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhansali Productions and Alia Bhatt (“Defendants”) for their upcoming film titled “Gangubai Kathiawadi”. As per reports, Plaintiff has also filed a case against writer, Hussain Zaidi and reporter Jane Borges stating that the Film is based on book ‘The Mafia Queens of Mumbai, while the original research is credited to Jane.

The Plaintiff alleged that certain parts of ‘The Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ are ‘defamatory and an infringement upon his right to privacy, self-respect and liberty’.

The Plaintiff has demanded that film’s production be halted and that specific chapters of book and film be deleted along with restraining its printing and circulation. The Defendants are given time till January 7, 2021 to respond.

OUTRAGE AS ZEE5 SHOW DEPICTS FREEDOM FIGHTER KHUDIRAM BOSE AS ‘CRIMINAL’

A webseries, Kunal Khemu-starrer Abhay 2, on OTT platform ZEE5, has landed into a controversy for allegedly depicting freedom fighter Khudiram Bose as a “criminal” in one of its scenes, triggering outrage by many people who took to social media to point this out. In response to one of the tweets, the official handle of ZEE5 Support said the makers of the show have no intent to offend any community or hurt anybody’s sentiments. In an attempt to self-censor reacting to audience outrage, ZEE5 said it has blurred the image used in one of the scenes of Abhay 2. Access Link: Source (here) 

IV. CONTENT REGULATION

GOVERNMENT BRINGS OTT CONTENT WITHIN THE AMBIT OF I&B MINISTRY BY AMENDING THE GOI ALLOCATION OF BUSINESS RULES, 1961

the President in exercise of its powers under Article 77 of the Constitution amended Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 has included within the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting the following entries:

“VA. DIGITAL/ONLINE MEDIA

22A. Films and Audio-Visual programmes made available by online content providers.

22B. News and current affairs content on online platforms.”.

Read Notification:  here.

This gives the I&B Ministry the power to bring in regulation / legislation to regulate online curated content and news and current affairs on online platforms. This would pave way for bringing in regulations in future such as amendment of Cinematograph Act.

PIL FILED FOR OBSCENITY, GAMBLING CONTENT BEING BROADCASTED ON TELEIVISON

On hearing two of PIL’s, the Madras High Court expressed anguish over the kind of content being broadcasted on TV, remarking that media should show some responsibility. The Court stated that merely because they don’t have censorship, they cannot throw anything and everything on the screen.

I&B MINISTRY TO SEEK TRANSFER OF ALL OTT-RELATED CASES TO SUPREME COURT.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is preparing to file a petition seeking the transfer of all court cases against OTT platforms in India to the Supreme Court. As per official sources, the decision to transfer all cases related to OTT platforms was taken since around 20 cases against OTT content are being heard in different courts all over India, and it will be more helpful if the top court hears them all. 

FILM AND TELEVISION INSTITUTE OF INDIA (FTII) RESEARCH PAPER ARGUES AGAINST CENSORSHIP OF OTT CONTENT.

A policy paper authored by Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Chief Shekhar Kapur and Vani Tripathi Tikoo, a board member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has argued against censorship of content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms & instead advocated industry -led benchmarks to preserve creative freedom. 

PIL FILED IN HIGH COURT FOR REGULATING OPERATIONS OF TECHFIN FIRMS LIKE FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, AMAZON

The Delhi High Court sought for a response from the Centre on a plea seeking directions not to permit TechFins to enter or operate into the financial sector without establishing registered offices within the territory of India and without prior registration/approval from financial regulators in India.

PIL FILED SEEKING CONSTITUTION OF AN INDEPENDENT REGULATORY AUTHORITY TO REGULATE ELECTRONIC MEDIA

A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to constitute an independent regulatory authority to be known as the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India to regulate the news broadcasters to check sensational reporting.  The PIL also mentioned that electronic broadcasting channels do not come under the ambit of the Press Council of India.  He submitted that the question of legal control over electronic broadcasting sources must be decided especially in light of rampantly increasing uncontrolled and un-regulated circulation of ‘fake news’, ‘bad journalism’ or ‘hate speeches’ in the name of journalism. Access Link: Source (here) 

PIL FILED IN THE J&K HIGH COURT AGAINST THE RELEASE OF ‘SHIKARA’- FILM ON THE EXODUS OF KASHMIRI PANDITS

The Jammu & Kashmir High Court has listed for hearing a PIL that demands the review and scrutiny of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s movie “Shikara”. The movie is based on the mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in 1990.

The petitioners have prayed a stay on the release of film till it is scrutinised to ensure that there is no inflammatory and communal content in the film. The High Court has listed the matter as ‘Urgent’ and has directed to hear responses from the Respondent as well as comments from the Advocate General.

COMPLAINTS FILED AGAINST PUNJABI SINGERS PURSUANT TO DIRECTION BY THE PUNJAB AND HARYANA HIGH COURT PROHIBITING GLORIFICATION OF VIOLENCE

A case has been registered against 2 Punjabi singers for promoting gun violence through their song. The complainants have alleged that a song by singers Sidhu Moosewala and Mankirt Aulakh promotes gun culture through the lyrics. The complaint was filed pursuant to a Punjab and Haryana High Court direction to the Director General of Police of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory Chandigarh to ensure that no songs glorifying liquor, drugs, and violence are played even in the live shows.

The same direction was used as a basis of complaint by a teacher in school in Badal village, Punjab against singer Afsana Khan. The complaint alleged the singer sang lines of a song promoting gun culture and violence during an interaction with students of the school.

FILMMAKER MURUGADOSS MOVES MADRAS HC; SEEKS POLICE PROTECTION

Madras High Court has admitted a plea from filmmaker A R Murugadoss seeking police protection. The director of the Rajnikanth starrer movie ‘Darbar’ has approached the court for protection in view of the alleged threats made by the distributors of the film. It has been alleged that the distributors were disappointed due to the loss they suffered, and threatened the director’s life after trespassing into his residence.

Murugadoss stated that he had no role to play in the distribution of the movie, the onus of which lies entirely on the producers of the film. He also stated that he moved the High Court after inaction on part of city police to give him adequate protection. The Court has asked directed the Chennai Police Commissioner to file a reply on February 10.

PUNJABI MOVIE ‘SHOOTER’ BANNED IN PUNJAB FOR PROMOTING VIOLENCE

The Punjab State government through a press statement has imposed a ban on the upcoming movie “Shooter” based on the life and crimes of gangster Sukha Kahlwan, saying it promotes violence, heinous crimes, extortion, threat and criminal intimidation. A case has also been registered against the producers of the Film, amongst others for allegedly “promoting violence, heinous crimes, gangsterism, drugs extortion, threat and criminal intimidation.

Reportedly, the producer of the Film, Mr. K.V Singh Dhillon had promised through a letter addressed to SSP Mohali in 2019 that he would discontinue the Film which was originally titled “Sukha Khalwan” as the authorities were of the opinion that the content of the Film may hurt law and order situation. However, he continued the project under a new title with a new name for the lead protagonist.

The Chief Minister has made it clear that his government will not allow any movies, songs, etc that seek to promote crime, violence and gangsterism in the state.

GOA GOVERNMENT TO VET FILM SCRIPTS THAT PORTRAY THE STATE IN A BAD LIGHT.

In light of the portrayal of Goa in Mohit Suri’s recent release ‘Malang’ claimed to have depicted Goa in poor light as a drug haven, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has stated that the State Government will henceforth only permit shooting of movies after a thematic inspection.

The Chief Minister stated that Goa boasts of a good law and order situation, among many other plus points, and therefore it was unfair to portray the state as a destination for drugs.

The Chief Minister also stated that the Entertainment Society of Goa, nodal agency for granting shooting permissions in the State, will check the story and how the State has been portrayed in the Film, before granting the permission. The permission would not be granted if the Film shows the State in a bad light.

GOVERNMENT ROOTS FOR SELF REGULATION MODEL IN ITS AFFIDAVIT BEFORE SC

In the matter of Justice for Rights vs Union of India pending before the Supreme Court, as per reports, the Government has filed its affidavit stating that it does not have the powers to regulate internet content but suggested an institutional self-regulatory model similar to traditional media.

Last year IAMAI had introduced a document titled ‘Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers’ which was signed by OTT platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji and Eros Now.

The IAMAI recently introduced a new code ‘Self-Regulation for Online Curated Content Providers’ which is available hereas a second tier (Tier II) to the existing Code whereby Digital Content Complaint Council to be instituted under the Tier II code shall be chaired by retired Justice A. P. Shah along with other members.

Reportedly, Hotstar, Voot, SonyLiv, Eros, and Reliance Jio have signed this new code. However platforms such as Netflix, Zee, Alt Balaji, MX Players have refused to sign the new code and formation of DCCC.

Amazon had refused to sign the earlier code and new code as well.

MIB ASKS CHANNELS TO ADHERE TO PROGRAMME AND ADVERTISING CODES

This Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued advisories for all private satellite TV channels to broadcast content strictly in adherence to the Programme and Advertising Codes as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Rules framed thereunder.

They’re advised to be cautious with any content which

  1. Is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti- national attitudes
  2. Contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes;
  3. Contains anything defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half-truths

The ministry has asked all the Private Satellite TV channels to ensure strict compliance of the above rules and make sure that no content which is broadcasted by these channels are violative of the above rules

IAMAI SET TO RELEASE A NEW CODE TO REGULATE CONTENT ON OTT PLATFORMS

The Internet and Mobile Association of India is set to release a new content code that shall govern the content on OTT (over-the-top) platform. The code shall also allow for a complaint redressal mechanism through a self-regulatory body called the Digital Content Complaints Council (DCCC). The primary aim is to ensure a mechanism where grievances can be addressed freely, without curbing creative freedom. The move has been supported by online video streaming platforms such as Hotstar, VOOT, SonyLIV and Reliance Jio.

The code supersedes the previous code by IAMAI for online platforms. The new code allows for complaints to be made directly to the DCCC, unlike the old code, where consumers had to first make a complaint to the relevant OTT platform. One of the most significant changes has been the addition of the penalties/punishment clause, which was absent in the previous version.

Certain platforms like Netflix, AltBalaji, Arre, MX Player and Zee5 have however written

GOVT GIVES 100 DAYS TO SET UP AN ADJUDICATORY BODY AND FINALISE A CODE OF CONDUCT FOR OTT PLATFORMS

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on March 2 gave over the-top (OTT) players hundred days to set up a body and finalise a code of conduct.

In a 45-minute meeting that was attended by representatives of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, MX Player, ALTBalaji, Hotstar, Voot, Jio, SonyLIV and Arre, four OTT platforms refused to be a part of the Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC), an adjudicatory body formed last month.

Sources said that Amazon Prime has not agreed to the idea , whereas Netflix, Zee5,MX player and ALTBalaji have asked for more time to come to a decision.

As of now, only Hotstar, Voot, Jio, SonyLIV and Arre have agreed to signed up with DCCC, a brainchild of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the I&B Ministry.

IAMAI had drafted a code for OTT platforms on January 17, 2019 titled ‘Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers’. This stops OTT platforms from streaming content which is prohibited by Indian courts, disrespects the national emblem, outrages religious sentiments, promotes violence against the state, or depicts child pornography.

TIKTOK SEEKS DISMISSAL OF PIL DEMANDING BAN ON APP IN INDIA

Social media app Tiktok on March 5 sought dismissal of a public interest litigation which sought ban on the app while claiming that its unfiltered content was causing harm to youth of the country.

It contended before the Bombay High Court that there is a laid down procedure under the Information Technology Act to filter any objectionable content online wherein if a person has any grievance regarding online content then he or she can approach the nodal officer and seek for it to be removed

The Court had directed the petitioner’s lawyer to respond to the point raised by the company and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks. The petition was filed in November 2019 by city-based woman Heena Darvesh, claiming that the TikTok app has resulted in several criminal offences and deaths.

KERALA HC DISMISSES PIL CHALLENGING CONTENT REGULATION POWERS OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

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

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

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

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

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

I&B MINISTRY REFUSES TO SUPPORT STREAMING SERVICES’ SELF-REGULATION CODE

The Government has informed that it would not support the model of self-regulation of streaming services proposed by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The proposed self-regulatory mechanism lacks independent third-party monitoring, does not have a well-defined Code of Ethics, does not clearly enunciate prohibited content, and also mentions of a conflict of interest in the advisory panel. The Ministry has advised IAMAI to look at the structures of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) as guiding principles for developing a self-regulatory and grievance redressal mechanism for Online Curated Content Providers (OCCP). Access Link: Source (here)

IAF WRITES TO CENSOR BOARD OVER FOR ITS ‘NEGATIVE PORTRAYAL’ IN ‘GUNJAN SAXENA’

The Indian Air Force in its complaint through a letter to the Censor Board of Film Certification has stated that the initial understanding between them and Dharma Productions was to represent Force with authenticity and make all efforts to ensure that the film helps to inspire the next generation of IAF officers. It is now alleged by IAF that few dialogues in the trailer of the film shows IAF in a negative light. The letter also provided a summary of all the scenes and dialogues that it considers objectionable and an incorrect presentation of the gender bias. Access Link: Source (here)

DELHI HC DISPOSES NGO’s PLEA ON ‘GUNJAN SAXENA’

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to treat as representation a PIL seeking stay on the streaming of Netflix movie, ‘Gunjan Saxena’, alleging that it depicts the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a bad light. Justice For Rights Foundation, a NGO, filed the PIL seeking directions to the movie’s producers to modify or delete the allegedly objectionable dialogues and scenes in the movie, which portrays the IAF in poor light. It claimed that the IAF and some of its officers have been shown as gender biased. The Court while dismissing the plea questioned the legal basis for claiming that IAF has to be shown in a good light and not otherwise. The bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said that the shoulders of the armed forces are broad enough to protect its reputation and if the IAF has any objections “let them take it up”. Access Link: Source (here).

DELHI HC REFUSES CENTRE, IAF PLEA TO INJUNCT STREAMING OF GUNJAN SAXENA – THE KARGIL GIRL

In the case of Union of India vs. Dharma Production & Ors., the Centre, IAF claimed that the film Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl which is currently streaming on the online digital OTT platform Netflix, portrayed the IAF as an organization which practiced gender bias and damaged / dented the reputation of IAF in India and abroad making it a subject of ridicule. The Delhi High Court refused to grant an interim injunction against the streaming of the said film, owing to the fact that the film was already out and streaming for days on the said OTT platform and further held that the film not being shown in cinema theatre is not good enough and that the Centre, IAF should have come at the first instance. Access Link: Source (here)

ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT JUNKS PLEA AGAINST VIRGIN BHASKAR STATING IT HAS BECOME A PRACTICE TO GAIN PUBLICITY BY FILING PETITIONS ON SENSITIVE ISSUES

Hon’ble Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court heard a PIL filed by Krishan Kanhaya Pal against the airing of the web series Virgin Bhaskar (season 2) streaming on Zee 5 and Alt Balaji. The Court held that the petitioner had invoked the writ jurisdiction of the Court for gaining unwarranted publicity in the garb of public interest. The petition was publicised on social media even before it was filed or any order was passed on it only with the oblique motive of publicity. Further, the Court went on to state that it is settled by various pronouncements of the apex court that the person approaching the court in public interest inter alia must be a bona fide person and should not be a person seeking any personal benefit and the petition is not politically motivated or is with oblique motives. The petition was dismissed as the petitioner had not approached the Court with clean intentions in the public interest. Access Link: Source (here)

AN ATTEMPT TO VILIFY MUSLIMS GETTING SELECTED IN CIVIL SERVICES: SUPREME COURT PASSES AN INJUNCTION ORDER AGAINST SUDARSHAN TV

The Supreme court had earlier declined to issue a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction from broadcasting the programme and directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to consider whether there was a violation of the Programme Code under the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. The petitioners had submitted that the content of the episodes which had been telecasted constituted hate speech directed against the Muslim community and that the restraint which was observed by the Supreme Court in declining to issue an order of injunction on 28 August 2020 warranted a change. The Court observed that several statements in the episodes, which had been drawn to the attention of the Court were not just palpably erroneous but had been made in wanton disregard of the truth including statements referring to relaxation either in the age limit or in the number of attempts available to the Muslim community in the civil services. Citing Rule 6(1)(c) which stipulates that no programme should be carried which “contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes” and Rule 6(1)(d), the Programme Code should not, inter alia, contain anything which is defamatory, false or reflective of “half – truths and suggestive innuendos”, The Supreme Court passed an injunction against Sudarshan News from making any further telecast in continuation of or similar to the episodes which were telecast on 11, 12, 13 and 14 September, 2020 either under the same or any other title or caption since the following episodes would be in the same vein as the episodes already aired by the channel. Access Link: Source (here)

SHOWCAUSE NOTICE ISSUED TO SUDARSHAN TV FOR VIOLATING PROGRAMME CODE

A showcause notice was issued to Sudarshan TV under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, asking the channel to show cause why action should not be taken against it for alleged violation of the Programme Code in the broadcast of its show ‘UPSC Jihad’. Access Link: Source (here)

 PIL AGAINST ALT BALAJI SHOW XXX – SEASON 2 AND AMAZON PRIME VIDEO SHOW ‘PAATAL LOK’ DISMISSED BY ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT

A Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma dismissed petitions seeking to stop the airing of web-show XXX- Season 2 and Paatal Lok. The Court in the matter observed that there is a settled principle that a writ of mandamus is first required to make a demand before the authority competent and a deviation from the above principle can only be made in extraordinary circumstances which had not been pointed out by the petitioners. Access Link: Source (here)

PIL SEEKS CENSORSHIP OF ADULT CONTENT IN SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTT PLATFORMS

A Public Interest Litigation was filed before the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre to come up with a censor board for blue pencilling videos uploaded on OTT platforms and Social Media. The petitioner prays for a censorship body like the Central Board of Film Certification for online content, whether user-generated or curated. The petitioner further argues that there were several adult content videos in the social media which could have an adverse effect on the young minds of school and college going students. An extraordinary request has been made to temporarily restrain OTT platforms like Netflix, MX Player, Voot etc. and social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook Instagram from uploading or telecasting any videos. Access Link: Source (here)

CBFC REMOVES SENSUOUS VISUALS FROM ‘KHAALI PEELI’, REPLACES EXPLICIT WORD WITH ‘AUNTY’

‘Khaali Peeli’ was scheduled to be released on OTT platform as well as drive-in cinemas and hence it was mandatory for the makers to get a censor certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The cuts have been made to several ‘sensuous and explicit’ visuals in the song and some vulgar-induced dialogues in particular sequences. CBFC has also instructed the makers of the film to insert a disclaimer at the beginning that ‘All those associated with the movie are against objectification of women and children’. Access Link: Source (here)

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING PROPOSES TO AMEND THE CABLE TELEVISION ACT

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has asked for suggestions/feedback from the general public and stakeholders on the draft ‘Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020. The proposed amendments include increased penalty for violation of Programme and Advertising Code. The Central Government may specify the names of Doordarshan channels or the channels operated by or on behalf of Parliament, to be mandatorily carried by the cable operators in their cable service and the manner of reception and re-transmission of such channels.

The proposed Bill can be viewed here.

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION & BROADCASTING ISSUES AN ADVISORY TO CHANNELS TO CONDEMN MOB VIOLENCE AND LYNCHING; FOLLOW APEX COURT’S DIRECTIONS

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has asked private satellite TV/FM channels to run a two-line scroll before broadcasting incidents of lynching, mob violence and cow vigilantism. The Advisory comes in wake of increase in such instances across the country, and to ensure compliance with Supreme Court’s directions in the case of Tehseen Poonawala v. Union of India [(2018) 6 SC 72].

Channels must broadcast the following messages:

Mob violence and lynching is a serious crime and invites serious consequences under the law.

Mob violence and lynching is serious criminal offence and invites stringent punishment under the law.

It is imperative that the news/radio channels run this scroll as a condemnation of such acts. The advisory can be found here.

HOTSTAR BLOCKS JOHN OLIVER SHOW WHICH CRITICIZES NARENDRA MODI

Hotstar has blocked an episode of John Oliver’s show in India for criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and showing him in bad light.

The comedian was previewing President Donald Trump’s visit to India on his Emmy-winning ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,’.

SELF-REGULATION CODE OF IAMAI FOR OTT PLATFORMS IN INDIA

Self-regulation code to govern content streaming platforms in India created by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and signed by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus Hotstar, Zee5, Viacom18’s Voot, ALTBalaji, Eros Now, MX Player, Jio Cinema, HoiChoi, Arre, Flickstree, Hungama, Shemaroo, Sony LIV and Lionsgate Play. The code was made effective from August 15 and requires each signatory to setup a grievance redressal mechanism in the form of an advisory council which will consist of two executives from respective platform and one external independent advisory member or/and a Consumer Complaints Department to deal with complaints, appeals and escalations. Access Link: Source (here)

NO LEGAL VOID TO REGULATE TV NEWS CONTENT: CENTRE TO BOMBAY HIGH COURT

There was no void in the existing legal framework on regulating the content broadcast by the electronic media and adequate mechanism existed for the purpose. The PILs, filed through senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, by activists, private citizens and a group of retired police officers, had also sought that TV news channels be stopped from conducting a media trial into the case. However, Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who appeared for the National Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA), an independent body set up by the National Broadcasters Association to look into complaints, said there was no shortage of regulatory framework at present. Datar assured the court that the NBSA would soon come out with guidelines on media reportage on a case after registration of an FIR. The HC closed all arguments in the case and reserved its verdict. Access Link: Source (here)

OTT INDUSTRY TO DRAFT A TOOL KIT TO IMPLEMENT SELF-REGULATION CODE.

The over-the-top (OTT) industry and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have joined hands to draft an implementation tool kit that will detail the manner in which a proposed self-regulation code for video on demand services will be applicable. The move comes after the government conveyed that the self-regulation code, curated by the IAMAI and adopted by nearly 15 OTT players, did not clearly specify the way it will be implemented.

HIGH COURT ASKS TV CHANNELS TO NOT ADD DEFAMATORY CONTENT MATERIAL

On hearing the plea, Delhi High Court passed an interim order asking media houses to ensure that no defamatory content be uploaded on social media platforms or displayed on their channels. The lawsuit was filed by Bollywood industry Associations and many leading producers. The Producers have sought that the defendants (media persons) shall take down all the defamatory content published by them against the film industry. It claimed that the privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire industry as criminals seeped in drug culture.

GOVERNMENT TO BUILD A CENTRAL CLOUD-BASED TOOL TO MONITOR TV CONTENT

The government now wants to build a central cloud-based tool to monitor TV channels and other exclusive services offered by cable TV providers. The surveillance tool should be able to identify the broadcasting of “unauthorised” content on TV channels using artificial intelligence, and flag them for recording which can later be used as legal evidence. The government’s argument is that currently, there is no system in place to “regularly monitor” whether TV operators adhere to rules for the operation of cable television network laid down in the Cable TV Network Act. The Act, among other things, prohibits TV broadcasters from showcasing content or advertisements that could create disharmony between communities on the basis of religion, race, language, cast, or other grounds. It is possible that government aims to keep an eye on any such content being aired on TV using the proposed online monitoring tool, as its primary mandate is to flag “unauthorised” content. Source (here)

V. PRIVACY AND PERSONALITY RIGHTS

COMEDIAN KUNAL KAMRA WAS BANNED BY VARIOUS AIRLINES OVER VIRAL VIDEO QUESTIONING JOURNALIST ARNAB GOSWAMI; DGCA CONDEMNED THE BAN

A video post by Kunal Kamra went viral, in which he was questioning Arnab Goswami while on-board an Indigo flight. Pursuant to Kamra’s act, Indigo suspended him for 6 months from flying with them, citing “unruly behaviour”.

Pursuant to this, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardip Singh Puri tweeted an ‘advisory’ to other airlines to impose similar restrictions on Kamra. Following the incident, Air India and SpiceJet banned the comedian until further notice.

These actions by the airlines garnered contempt from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Chief Arun Kumar. Kumar stated that in case of unruly behaviour restricted to verbal communication, the airlines should first impose a temporary ban of 30 days on the passenger and conduct an internal enquiry headed by a retired judge into the incident. The report of such incident must be made by the pilot in-command. Since none of the requirements were not met in the instant case, the 6-month ban by IndiGo, as well as the indefinite ban by Air India and SpiceJet, was in contravention of the Civil Aviation Requirement rules of 2017. [SOURCE]

MADRAS HIGH COURT ISSUED NOTICE TO MAKERS OF JAYALALITHA’S ALLEGED BIOPIC

The Madras High Court on February 13 issued notice to the makers of the alleged biopic on the life of former chief minister Jayalalitha in an appeal filed by her niece Deepa challenging the single bench order which had refused to stall the film ‘Thalaivi’. In her appeal Deepa has claimed that she was shocked to notice that the web series ‘Queen’ on MX Player portrayed her aunt Jayalalitha’s life and showed her in bad light in several scenes thereby affecting her dignity. She claimed that no biopic on her aunt’s life can be made without her approval. Further, to stop any damage to her aunt’s reputation, she wanted the producers of Thalaivi to permit her to watch the movie and allow its screening only after her consent. [SOURCE]

LEGAL TROUBLE FOR AMITABH BACHCHAN STARRER JHUND

The movie is allegedly based on the story of Vijay Barse, a retired coach who founded a NGO called Slum Soccer, and Akhilesh Prakash Pual, a student of Barse. Nandi Chinni Kumar, a Hyderabad-based filmmaker has sought injunction for the movie citing reasons of copyright infringement, claiming that he has entered into an agreement with Paul to make a biopic on his life story and has furthermore registered the script with the Telangana film writers association with a title Slum Soccer on June 11, 2018. Access Link: Source (SOURCE)

NETFLIX RELEASES CONTROVERSIAL SERIES ‘BAD BOY BILLIONAIRES’, SANS EPISODE ON RAMALINGA RAJU

While hearing an appeal by Netflix to set aside a lower court order that restrained it from broadcasting the series, Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy decided to watch the documentary based on the life of Satyam Computers founder B Ramalinga Raju and others before deciding whether to permit Netflix to release it or not. Source (HERE)

Mehul Choksi (whose name appears in the series) had filed a case before the court to stay airing of the docu-series. Three episodes of the docu-series were released after the court in Bihar’s Araria district vacated the stay it had imposed earlier in September. Mehul
Choksi had also approached the Delhi High Court regarding the docu-series, the Delhi High Court had dismissed Choksi’s plea. Source (HERE)

MALYALAM FILM ‘KURUP’ OF DULQUER SALMAAN IN TROUBLE AFTER CHACKO’S FAMILY SENDS LEGAL NOTICE.

Upcoming Malayalam crime drama film ‘Kurup’ of Dulquer Salmaan based on the lifetime of one of Kerala’s most wished criminals, landed in trouble after the team was served with a legal notice by the Chacko’s family demanding a pre-release screening of the film for Chacko’s wife and son. [SOURCE]

DELHI HIGH COURT VACATES STAY ON PUBLICATION OF BOOK ON ASARAM BAPU’S CONVICTION

Setting aside the trial Court’s order that granted an ex-parte injunction and stayed release of the book, Justice Najmi Waziri held that no case was made out to grant ex-parte injunction and said it would be against free speech to debar all discussions. The High Court directed that the already printed copies of the book be sold along with disclaimer attached as flyer in the book that it is based on the judgement of a trial court against which an appeal is pending in the Rajasthan High Court. [SOURCE]

INDIAN AIR FORCE ASKS NETFLIX TO CUT SCENES FROM ANIL KAPOOR’S ‘AK VS AK’ FOR WRONG UNIFORM

Netflix film titled “AK vs AK” starring Anil Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap & others, the Indian Air Force has demanded “withdrawal” of some scenes from film. The Indian Air Force stated that the Air Force uniform being worn by Anil Kapoor in the film has been “inaccurately donned” and the language used in the film does not go with the behavioural norms of Indian armed forces personnel. [SOURCE]

LEGAL NOTICE TO OTT PLATFORM MX PLAYER FOR ‘TRANSPHOBIC’ CONTENT IN ITS WEB-SERIES TITLED “PATI, PATNI AUR PANGA”

A cease-and-desist notice was sent to MX player as well as the Times Group for web series titled “Pati, Patni aur Panga” objecting to the series content. The Trans Equality Society stated that the romantic comedy series has “transphobic, misogynistic, defamatory and malicious content about members of the transgender community.” The notice demanded that the series not be aired on MX player, and its trailer and all online content associated be withdrawn. [SOURCE]

SUIT FILED AGAINST ALIA BHATT, SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI & OTHERS OVER `INDECENT REPRESENTATION` IN FILM “GANGUBAI KATHIAWADI”

A suit was filed by Gangubai’s son Babuji Rawji Shah against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhansali Productions and Alia Bhatt for the upcoming film titled “Gangubai Kathiawadi”. A case was also filed against writer, Hussain Zaidi and reporter Jane Borges stating that the film was based on the book ‘The Mafia Queens of Mumbai’, while the original research is credited to Jane. Further, it was alleged that certain parts of ‘The Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ are ‘defamatory and infringe upon his right to privacy, self-respect and liberty’. They demanded that production be halted and that specific chapters of book and film be deleted along with restraining its printing and circulation. The defendants are given time till January 7, 2021 to respond. [SOURCE]

VI. DEFAMATION

DELHI HIGH COURT REJECTS PLEA OF MEHUL CHOKSI FOR PREVIEW OF NETFLIX’S DOCU-SERIES “BAD BOY BILLIONAIRES” AND LOCAL COURT IN BIHAR PASSED INTERIM STAY ORDER AGAINST THE RELEASE OF THE SERIES.

Choksi’s plea to pre-screen the Netflix documentary “Bad Boy Billionaires” on corruption by India’s tycoons has been dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Justice Navin Chawla said that a writ petition for enforcement of a private right is not maintainable. The appropriate remedy would be civil suit as the alleged infringement is of a private right. Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi had moved the Delhi High Court seeking direction for a preview of the Netflix documentary ‘Bad Boy Billionares’.

In addition to this, acting on the petition of  Sahara chief Subrata Roy, a local court in Bihar’s Araria district has passed an interim stay order on the broadcasting of Netflix documentary ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’, scheduled to be released on September 2. Netflix has withdrawn the promo of the show from its platform and is reportedly planning to approach the Supreme Court early next week to get the stay vacated. Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. The documentary, scheduled to be released on September 2, 2020, is an investigative docuseries which takes a look at controversial cases of infamous businessmen Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Subrata Roy and Byrraju Ramalinga Raju. Access Link: Source (here).

CHOREOGRAPHER GANESH ACHARYA FILES A COUNTER COMPLAINT AGAINST ACCUSER

Ganesh Acharya has filed a complaint against a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment. The woman, who was earlier his assistant choreographer, had filed a complaint alleging that Acharya has asked her to watch porn, and that she was assaulted by two women at a club at his behest.

Against the same, Acharya has filed 2 complaints: one for defamation and other for false allegations against the women. The choreographer has claimed that the accusations are baseless, and appropriate action must be taken against it. [SOURCE]

DELHI HIGH COURT HAS REFUSED TO GRANT AN INJUNCTION ON HASMUKH

The Delhi High Court refused to stay the streaming of episode 4 of Netflix’s dark comedy series Hasmukh. The application was filed by an advocate on grounds that the episode makes disparaging comments against lawyers, is defamatory and brought disrepute to the law profession and advocates in the eyes of the public. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, while refusing to grant the stay, held that “The very essence of democracy is that a creative artist is given the liberty to project the picture of the society in a manner he perceives… It is a known fact that a stand-up comedian to highlight a particular point exaggerates the same to an extent that it becomes a satire and a comedy.” Further, the Court also held that the applicant failed to show that the comments in the series referred to him or a definite group of individuals or lawyers out of the entire class of lawyers to which he belonged. Read Order (HERE)

PAATAL LOK CONTROVERSY

The Calcutta High Court has disposed of the public interest litigation filed by Mr. Pranay Rai, against the Netflix web-series, Paatal Lok, with a direction to consider the grievance raised by the petitioner that certain portions of the web-series are defamatory against the Nepali community and project the community in bad light. The petitioner, had during the course of the hearing, submitted that he has filed a representation ventilating his grievance before the authority who has been arrayed as “8th respondent” in the petition (the identity of the 8th respondent is not discernible from the order). The court held that a decision should be taken by the 8th respondent and in the event it finds that certain portions of the aforesaid web series are not fit for being aired for public viewing, the 8th respondent shall pass appropriate orders for blocking the said portions from public viewing. Source (HERE)

BEARDED CHOKRA CASE: BOMBAY HIGH COURT STAYS DIRECTION TO TAKE DOWN PARACHUTE REVIEW VIDEO SUBJECT TO MODIFICATIONS

The Bombay HC passed an interim injunction order against a social media influencer to remove a video containing his critique on Parachute Oil from the internet, which was considered to be defamatory and disparaging.

The defendant, on account of his status as a social media influencer, was held to be a person demanding more accountability than a member of general public. The video was also held to be made in malice and disparaging. Read order HERE.

Division bench of Bombay High Court STAYED the single bench order which had directed vlogger to take down the video after the vlogger agreed to modify some content in his video and remove certain remarks.

The Bench also made observations regarding when a statement would constitute defamation. In this regard, the Bench observed that a distinction has to be made between statements of fact and opinions.

When the statement in question is an opinion, the Court explained that no defamation can be made out if it is based on non-defamatory, disclosed facts, regardless of how derogatory the opinion is.

However, the Bench added, “… if the expression of opinion is based on undisclosed or implied facts, support of an action depends on the understanding of the statement. If the recipient reasonably believes the truth of an undisclosed or implied defamatory fact about the subject of the statement, the speaker is liable for making defamatory statement.”

YOUTUBER OPPOSES DEFAMATION NOTICE BY AKSHAY KUMAR

Akshay Kumar had issued a defamation notice against the YouTuber seeking ₹ 500 crore in damages for making “false and baseless allegations” against him in Rajput’s death case. The YouTuber, through his lawyer, replied that the content uploaded by Siddiquee cannot be considered as defamatory and that they are to be treated as viewpoints with objectivity. Source (HERE)

DELHI HC ORDERS TWITTER TO TAKE DOWN TWEETS ALLEGEDLY DEFAMING RAJDEEP SARDESAI AND INDIA TODAY GROUP

Delhi High Court has directed Twitter to take down several tweets posted by Rakesh Krishnan Thiyya for prima facie defaming the company and its consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai. The court also directed Twitter to furnish the basic subscriber information of Thiyya to the India Today Group, and also prohibited him from uploading derogatory or defamatory content about the company or its employees until further orders. Source (HERE)

NOTICE ISSUED TO REPUBLIC TV, TIMES NOW ON BOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS’ PLEA ON ‘IRRESPONSIBLE REPORTING’

The Delhi High Court asked media channels to ensure that defamatory content is not displayed on their channels or on social media platforms. The DELHI HIGH COURT issued notices to Republic TV and Times Now on a plea filed by top Bollywood filmmakers and producers seeking to restrain them from making or publishing allegedly “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks” against the film industry and conducting media trials against its members on various issues. Source (HERE)

VII. CELEBRITIES

CASE FILED AGAINST SALMAN KHAN, KARAN JOHAR AND OTHERS AFTER SUSHANT SINGH RAJUT’S   SUICIDE

A case has been filed by Advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha against Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ekta Kapoor in connection with the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput under sections 306, 109, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1908. There have been no further developments on the same as of now, but the Mumbai Police is actively investigating upon the same matter. Access Link: Source (here)

 

DRAVIDIAN OUTFIT WANTS FIR AGAINST RAJINIKANTH BOOKED, MOVES MADRAS HIGH COURT; PLEA DISMISSED

Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam has approached the Madras high court seeking direction to the Chennai police to register an FIR against actor Rajinikanth. The petitioner alleged that the actor delivered a speech in the golden jubilee celebration of Tamil magazine – Thuglak and made false and fraudulent statements insulting Dravidian ideologists and followers of Thanthai Periyar. It was further alleged that the speech was made with an intention to provoke breach of public peace by promoting enmity and hatred among the people of Tamil Nadu in the name of religion. The petitioner subsequently withdrew the plea and the case was dismissed.

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST FRAUDSTERS IMPERSONATING BHUSHAN KUMAR

It came to light that certain individuals were impersonating Bhushan Kumar by using his name and picture on Whatsapp. They were trying to mislead and dupe aspiring actors by fraudulently asking for money and other favours. Upon being apprised of the same, T-Series filed a criminal complaint against the unidentified individuals at Amboli Police Station for cheating, forgery, disparagement of the name, reputation and brand image of Mr. Bhushan Kumar and T-Series.  Access Link:  Source here

HIGH COURT DISMISSES PLEA AGAINST SANJAY DUTT IN KGF-2: NO LAW STOPS CONVICTS FROM ACTING

The plea, filed by G. Shivashankar, sought to stop Dutt from acting in a film on the grounds that the actor was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case. It was further contended that the people of Karnataka are opposed to allowing the actor to be a part of the Kannada film. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi responded by asking under which law a person who was convicted and has undergone a full sentence is prohibited from being a part of the film. The petitioner’s locus to represent the entire State of Karnataka was also questioned. The HC dismissed the appeal while observing that people cannot impose censorship.  Access Link: Source here

MADRAS HIGH COURT ORDERS VISHAL TO COMPENSATE PRODUCER RAVINDRAN OF TRIDENT ARTS FOR FILM ‘ACTION’

The Madras HC heard the petition that Trident Arts (production house of the movie ‘Action’) had filed against actor Vishal stating that the latter owed the production house Rs. 8 crore. The Court ordered the actor to compensate for the losses incurred by his film. Access Link: Source here

CHATTISGARH HIGH COURT REJECTS PETITION SEEKING CRIMINAL ACTION AGAINST AAMIR KHAN OVER HIS ‘INTOLERANCE’ REMARK

The Chhattisgarh High Court has rejected the criminal petition filed against the actor after he made a controversial statement on intolerance in the year 2015. Earlier, Aamir Khan had made a statement in a TV show that his wife Kiran had suggested that he should leave the country. Deepak Divan of Raipur had thereafter filed a complaint in the lower court against the statement. Access Link: Source: here

PETITION FILED AGAINST MAKERS OF MOVIE SEEKING STAY ON FILM ON SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT

A petition has been filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a stay on the release of 30-minute short film titled ‘Priya’ made by Jabalpur Flix Film Production that is based on the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The short film was slated for screening at Samadadia Mall in Jabalpur on 25th November 2020. The petition claimed that the case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has not been resolved yet and CBI is investigating the case. Hence, the Petitioner urged to ban the film’s release until the Court verdict is reached.

UK ARTIST CALLS OUT MAKERS OF BAAGHI 3 FOR COPYING HIS SONG, SEEKS ‘SIZEABLE CHEQUE’

In a series of Instagram stories, TroyBoi, a British Electronic Media artist, has slammed the makers of Baaghi 3 for ripping off his popular track “Do You?” In one story, TroyBoi said that his track “Do You?” was a tribute to India and that he dreams of a “sizeable Cheque” from the makers. He further went on to state that this alleged plagiarism reminded him of the Chiranjeevi track that was a copy of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video. In response to which, the producers of Baaghi 3 stated that “Do You Love Me” is a licensed version of the original by famous Lebanese composer and songwriter Rene Bendali.

BOMBAY HIGH COURT: BARRING ELDER ARTISTS FROM FILM SETS DISCRIMINATORY

The Maharashtra Government, on 30th May 2020, issued guidelines imposing restrictions on film and TV artistes over the age of 65 years on shooting sets in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The said guidelines were challenged in separate petitions by IMMPA and 70 year old film and TV artiste, Pramod Pandey. The bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla remarked that the said age limit was discriminatory and directed the state government to file an affidavit explaining how a physically fit person who is 65 years of age or above is expected to live a dignified life if he is not allowed to go out and earn his livelihood. In the affidavit, the government responded that the said guidelines were not with a view to discriminate, but were in the general interest and for the safety of such people. In August 2020, the guidelines by the Government were quashed by the Court. Access Link: Source here

BOLLYWOOD STARS UNDER SCANNER FOR FAKE FOLLOWER FRAUD

Rapper Badshah was grilled by the Mumbai police in connection with the probe into the creation and selling of fake social media followers and ‘likes’. It all started on a complaint by Bollywood singer Bhumi Trivedi, after she found that somebody had created her fake profile on social media. During the investigations, police unearthed the racket which creates fake social media profiles and sells fake followers and likes to celebrities and `influencers’. Senior police officials had said earlier that this was a serious issue as fake profiles are also used to spread fake news or misinformation. Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, a London-based independent music education provider, came out with a report in 2019 which had named actors Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra among the 10 global celebrities with maximum fake followers on Instagram. Access Link: Source (here)

BROADCASTERS AND PRODUCERS OF THE TV INDUSTRY TO PAY DUES

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has urged the broadcasters and producers of TV Serials to ensure that all payments due to any artist engaged with the production of TV serials, up to March 2020 to be cleared at the earliest. The notice dated 29th May also clarified that the “Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) is working on a war footing for liquidating the pendency of advertisement bills of the media industry”. Access Link: Source (here)

VIII. ADVERTISEMENT

ASCI INTRODUCES GUIDELINES FOR ADVERTISERS TO USE AWARDS AND RANKINGS IN ADS

The Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) has introduced guidelines for usage of Awards/Rankings in advertisements effective February 1, 2020. It has become increasingly common for advertisers to make superiority claims in advertising for their products and services based on awards and rankings received. Consumers are sometimes misled into believing that an award or ranking which is given to a brand, product, institute or service makes it superior and/or more authentic. The guidelines will lend assistance to advertisers for appropriate and correct usage of reference to awards or rankings in advertising; to ensure that their claims are not misleading. The guidelines will also assist the advertiser to understand the rigour required for claim substantiation and pitfalls to avoid so that their claims pass the muster with ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).

To validate their claims in advertisements, brands and services need to ensure that the accrediting bodies involved in disseminating or presenting awards or rankings are authentic and credible.

DELHI HIGH COURT ISSUES NOTICE IN PLEA FOR COMPLETE BAN ON TOBACCO ADVERTISEMENTS

A petition by one Mr. Dipesh Jha, was filed in the Delhi High Court for enforcement of the fundamental rights of the workers working in the tobacco brand “Chaini Khaini” and also seeking a complete ban on advertisement of the tobacco product. The Petitioner alleged that the said company is advertising ‘Chaini Khaini’ in violation of Article 13 of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which bans surrogate advertisement for tobacco products. The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar thereafter issued notices to the Central Government, the Delhi Government, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the Health Ministry, among others to file their reply by 11 March 2020.

GOOGLE BANS ADS ON CORONAVIRUS CONSPIRACY THEORY

In light of the health crisis continuing throughout the United States, Alphabet Inc’s Google prohibited websites and apps that use its advertising technology from running dangerous content that goes against scientific consensus during the coronavirus pandemic including the debunked conspiracy theories, such as the notion that the virus was created in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon, that the virus was created by Microsoft Corp founder, Bill Gates or that the virus is a hoax. Access link: Source (here)

MADRAS HIGH COURT ISSUES INTERIM ORDER AGAINST CONDOM ADS, SEXUAL ADVERTISEMENTS

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court issued an interim order against the broadcast of sexual advertisements citing the interests of justice and to safeguard children and women. Petitioner K.S. Sagadevaraja had moved the court with a PIL to curb the telecast of sexually explicit ads. The bench expressed disapproval over such advertisements being widely shown on TV and stated that such ads of condoms and aphrodisiacs are pornographic in nature. In furtherance to this, the Court stated that several channels were telecasting such ads round the clock and were likely to affect the minds of young audiences.

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE ISSUES ADVISORY LETTER TO CBFC

An advisory letter dated July 27, 2020 has been issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to CBFC wherein the former has advised that in view of some production houses making films on the “Army” theme and using comments distorting the image of the Indian Army, the producers of such movies/ web series, etc. based on Army theme may be advise to obtain an NOC from MoD before their telecast in public domain. Further, any incident which distorts the image of Defence Forces or hurts their sentiments must be prevented. Last year the MOD had issued a similar letter to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) in relation to depiction of Army uniform in advertisements. Read the letter to the CBFC here and its analysis here.

FMCG GIANTS BATTLE IT OUT AMIDST THE PANDEMIC OUTBREAK

Lifebuoy soap manufacturing Hindustan Unilever Limited (“Plaintiff”) took Dettol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser India Pvt. Ltd. (“Defendant”) to the Hon’ble Bombay High Court for its most recent commercial for disparagement and infringement of its trademark and copyright. It was alleged by the Plaintiff that the impugned commercial by the Defendant is a blatant copy of its advertisement and portrays that washing hands with a soap bar is ineffective and it is best to use a Dettol hand wash to stay clean of germs in this pandemic situation. The Plaintiff sought damages (general, special and exemplary) worth Rs. 1 crore.

The advertisement was subsequently withdrawn by Dettol.

TANISHQ AD IN CONTROVERSY: PLEA FILED IN HIGH COURT TO REGULATE NEWS CHANNELS FROM BROADCASTING CONTENT ON COMMUNAL DISHARMONY

This year, a Tanishq advertisement faced severe criticism for showing an inter-faith couple. A news channel termed the advertisement as “advertisement jihad”, allegedly trying to incite hatred among two religious’ groups. Amid the controversy, a plea was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking to regulate news channels over broadcast and publishing of content based on communal disharmony and hate speech. The plea said it can be clearly inferred from the Tata jewellery brand advertisement that its purpose was to showcase the spirit of unity and brotherhood amongst two religious groups. The plea sought direction to the authorities to form guidelines to include restrictions as envisaged under Article 19 of the Constitution and orders of the Supreme Court to ensure that media does not abuse the freedom of speech and expression.

IX. CCI

KARNATAKA HC DISMISSES PETITION BY FILM BODIES AGAINST CCI

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, the Karnataka Film Directors Association, the Karnataka Film Workers Artists Technicians Federation and the Kannada Chalanchitra Sangeethagarara Sangha had filed a petition against the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Reliance Big Entertainment, UTV Software Communications, Reliance Media Works and the FICCI Multiplex Association of India. Under this petition, the authority of the CCI under the Competition Act, 2002 was challenged and the petitioners sought a prohibition against the CCI from exercising its jurisdiction. However, the Karnataka High Court dismissed the petition, reportedly stating that it cannot prevent a legal body from performing its duties.

KARNATAKA HC GRANTS INTERIM STAY ON CCI INVESTIGATION AGAINST AMAZON AND FLIPKART; PETITION TO BE HEARD IN JANUARY 2021

In early February, the Karnataka High Court granted an interim stay on the investigation ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violations of provisions of competition laws. The impugned CCI order was passed in response to a complaint filed by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, which is an association of traders dealing in smart phones and related accessories.

In its plea, Amazon sought quashing and setting aside of the CCI’s probe order dated 13 January 2020 and had also prayed the court to provide relief based on the facts and circumstances of the case and in the interest of justice. Amazon contended that the CCI order (to investigate these conglomerates for several alleged malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers on their platforms) had been passed “without application of mind” and that it would cause irreparable loss/injury to the goodwill/reputation of the company if an investigation is allowed.

In October, the CCI appealed the interim stay before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea however, and the matter has now gone back to the Karnataka High Court. The High Court will hear CCI’s plea for vacating the stay in January 2021.

[Access Link: Source (here)]

SUPREME COURT SETS ASIDE 1 CRORE PENALTY IMPOSED ON STAR INDIA AND AIRTEL FOR KBC BY NCDRC

 The Supreme Court, vide its order dated January 23, set aside a Rs. 1 crore penalty imposed on Star India, broadcaster of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), and programme sponsor Bharti Airtel Limited. The impugned was imposed in 2008, when the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) ruled against the two companies in a case of ‘unfair trade practices’. This ruling was in response to a complaint filed in 2007 by the Society of Catalysts, an agency working in the field of consumer rights, against Star India and Bharti Airtel. The complaint alleged that the two companies had engaged in ‘unfair trade practices’ through a contest, ‘Har Seat Hot Seat’, that asked KBC viewers to answer questions by text for a chance to win Rs. 2 lakhs.

Challenging the order in the Supreme Court in 2008, Star TV and Airtel argued that the NCDRC order was based on “inferences and speculation”, and that they had made sure the increased SMS rates applicable for the contest were displayed on the television screen as well as on the KBC website. Further, Star TV claimed that Airtel had not shared the SMS revenue with it at all and asserted that the NCDRC should have looked into the break-up of cost, value addition and profit in the tariff before passing the order.

Setting aside the order and penalty, the court ruled, “We are of the view that there is no basis to conclude that the prize money for the HSHS contest was paid directly out of the SMS revenue earned by Airtel, or that Airtel and Star India had colluded to increase the SMS rates so as to finance the prize money and share the SMS revenue, and the finding of the commission of an ‘unfair trade practice’… is liable to be set aside.”

X. SPORTS AND GAMING

BOMBAY COURT GRANTS JOHN DOE ORDERS TO FAU-G MAKERS IN A DEFAMATION SUIT

The creators of video game FAU-G (GOQii and nCore) filed a defamation suit in the Bombay City Civil Court against “John Doe/Ashok Kumar”, for reportedly posting defamatory content about them and FAU-G on social media. The petition averred that these unknown persons were targeting the two companies on social media by spreading rumours that FAU-G was conceptualised by late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. In accordance with the John Doe order, social media platforms are required to block any users from posting defamatory content against the makers.

[Access Link: Source (here)]

MADRAS HC DIRECTS GOVT TO DECIDE ON PIL SEEKING FREE SPORTS STREAMING ON DD PLATFORMS

A PIL was filed by a Mumbai-based sound engineer, Aditya Modi, before the Madras High Court, in which he contended that citizens with access to the internet were being denied access to sports events of national importance due to the restriction in the extant sports broadcasting law. Accordingly, the bench comprised of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Central Government to take a decision on whether the Sports Act, 2007 can be amended to allow Doordarshan to stream sporting events of national importance on it’s Over The Top (OTT) platforms.

The Sports Broadcast Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Rules, 2007 require sports broadcasters to provide the feed of sporting events of national importance to Prasar Bharati for free re-transmission on the public broadcaster’s terrestrial and direct to home (DTH) platforms.

The bench ordered officials to take an appropriate decision supported by “cogent and plausible reasons preferably within three months”, as this was clearly a policy decision to be undertaken by the government after examining various factors, including the possible impact on other stakeholders in the OTT platform industry.

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO FORAYS INTO LIVE SPORTS; SECURES STREAMING RIGHTS FOR NEW ZEALAND CRICKET

Amazon Prime Video entered the live sports industry in India by acquiring the India territory rights for New Zealand Cricket through 2025-2026. By doing so, Amazon Prime Video has become the first Indian streaming service to secure exclusive live cricket rights from a major cricketing board. Pursuant to this multi-year deal, Amazon Prime Video has been granted the right to stream all international cricket matches (men’s and women’s) to be played in New Zealand, across all formats, starting late 2021.

[Access Link: Source (here)]

FACEBOOK AND SONY PARTNER UP TO SHOWCASE HIGHLIGHTS OF INDIA’S TOUR OF AUSTRALIA

Facebook has entered into a digital content partnership with Sony Pictures Networks India, pursuant to which it is entitled to stream exclusive content from the Indian national cricket team’s tour of Australia. As per the deal, match content will be showcased on Facebook Watch across three ODIs, three T20Is, and four Tests. The content to be streamed includes match highlights, in-play moments (such as best catches, best wickets, etc.), man of the match ceremonies, and more. Fans will be able to access this content on Sony Sports India’s Facebook page.

[Access Link: Source (here)]

DESPITE COVID IMPACT, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY TO GROW AT 10.1% CAGR

The Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry’s long-term outlook remains robust and optimistic, despite the short-term drop caused by the pandemic. As per PwC’s Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024, the Indian M&E industry is expected to grow at 10.1% CAGR to reach $55 billion by 2024. The PwC report has predicted a ‘K-shaped’ bifurcated recovery for the M&E industry, with substantial growth anticipated in sectors like OTT, internet advertising, video/games/e-sports, and music and podcasts.

[Access Link: Source (here)]

XI. TRADEMARK

 PLEX v. ZEEPLEX: Passing Off at the Last Minute

Zee, has recently launched a pay-per-view service, ZEEPLEX. The service allows users to rent a movie from the platform by making a payment. This rent is valid only for 48 hours after the payment and the users can view the movie with their family within 6 hours of starting it. The platform, however, found itself in the midst of a passing off suit heard one day before its scheduled launch date. This challenge was brought forth by PLEX, a client-server media player that also provides services such as Live TV and free movies. The Bombay High Court declined to give the desired interim injunction against Zee on the grounds that Plex does not fulfil the pre-requisites in a passing off claim. Thus, the court arrived at an appropriate conclusion in denying the relief. The instant case was heard a day before the launch of the defendant’s platform despite the launch being announced a month prior to that. The present case not only involves a last-minute plea but also another interesting development, the plaintiff’s amendment of its registration application to indicate use since 2008 as against earlier ‘proposed to be used’. This hints towards a possibility that while the plaintiff did not initially associate much benefits flowing through its popularity in the Indian market, and therefore by sidelining to the earlier use, it deliberately altered the application to show greater value attached to the business. Even if this error in the application would have been a genuine oversight, it did not preclude filing of the injunction application where proof could have been shown of prior use. This implies a delay without any reasonable cause as far as the interim injunction plea is concerned, and hence the success rate had to be minimal. Since no extraordinary social benefits were shown by the plaintiff, the plea was rightly dismissed. Access Link: Source (here)

ANDAMAN CHANNEL REFRAINED FROM USING BIGG BOSS/BIG BROTHER TRADEMARK

Bombay High Court granted  relief to the Endemol Shine Group by stopping the makers of ‘Andaman Big Bro’ from infringing trademarks of the company’s show Bigg Boss

Endemol Shine Group, makers of reality show ‘Bigg Boss’ and ‘Big Brother’, filed a plea against the show called ‘Andaman Bigg Bro’ for trademark infringement.

While hearing the plea, Justice BP Colabawalla stated that the similarities between the two shows cannot be a mere coincidence. The court stated that prima facie, there is no doubt that the marks/name/device of eye/taglines of the shows are identical/ similar to each other.

The court restrained the makers of ‘Andaman Big Bro’ from using trademarks of Endemol Shine Group or telecasting or conducting auditions for any show that is similar to ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Bigg Boss’. Access Link: Source (here)

 REPUBLIC TV GETS RELIEF FROM CALCUTTA HC IN PASSING OFF SUIT

The Calcutta High Court recently granted relief to Arnab Goswami’s AGR Outlier Media Asianet News Pvt. Ltd. (plaintiff) in a passing off suit citing infringement of Republic TV’s trademark. Trademark infringement had been alleged on the part of Shailputri Media Pvt. Ltd. (defendant) in running an internet portal under the domain name www.republichindi.com.

Justice Debangsu Basak of the Calcutta High Court found that, “On a visual appreciation of the two marks, it appears that, the mark used by the defendant is deceptively similar to that used by the plaintiff. A person may be misled to understand that the defendant is a part of the plaintiff.”

The plaintiff argued that even prior to May 2017 launch, the launch of Republic TV was advertised on a nation-wide basis in the preceding months. The trademark for “Republic” was obtained prior, on November 20, 2016, the plaintiff claimed. It was the case of the plaintiff that domain name used by the defendant was deceptively similar to Republic TV and that it amounted to passing off.

The defendant countered that the name of “Republic Hindi” was conceptualised and implemented by itself. Inter alia, it was argued that the plaintiff was seeking to monopolise the use of the word “Republic”, although it was a generic word with nothing distinctive about it. To buttress this argument, reference was also made to other media outlets with the word “Republic” as part of its brand such as ‘News Republic’.

It was also pointed out that the defendant’s Republic Hindi portal was also launched on May 6, 2017. Therefore, the defendant could not have had any prior knowledge of the plaintiff’s channel which had also launched on the same date, it was argued. The defendant claimed the domain name “www.republichindi.com” was an honest, concurrent and bona fide adoption.

The Court, however, observed marked similarities between the logo of Republic TV and Republic Hindi. The Court proceeded to observe that while the claims of the defendant regarding bonafide adoption of its domain name required consideration, there was nothing on record to suggest that it had conceptualised “Republic Hindi” concurrently with the plaintiff.

In view of these observations, the Court disposed on the plea by holding that,

“In the facts of the present case, I find that, the manner in which the defendant is using the word ‘Republic Hindi’ with the colour combination and font used by the defendant, the mark of the defendant is deceptively similar to that used by the plaintiff.” Access Link: Source (here)

SHEMAROO IN TRADEMARK TROUBLES

Marathi stage director Ashok Hande has filed an FIR against Shemaroo Entertainment for violating his registered trademark ‘Marathi Bana’. Hande conceptualised a show titled ‘Marathi Bana’ in 2005 and the same was registered as a trademark in 2009. Shemaroo has recently launched a Marathi TV Channel called Marathi Bana and Hande has filed a case against the use of the same.

In response to these allegations, Shemaroo has claimed that Hande cannot claim exclusive rights over Marathi Bana for all activities. Their channel ‘Shemaroo Marathi Bana’ is in an entirely different field of activity, in which Hande does not have trademark registration. They claim that the FIR is a malafide attempt to damage the goodwill and reputation of Shemaroo.

BRITANNIA FILES A TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT SUIT AGAINST FUTURE GROUP

Britannia has filed a trademark infringement suit against Future Group in the Delhi High court alleging that the latter has used deceptively similar packaging to that of various biscuit brands of former. The case also alleges infringement of Britannia’s mark “Good Day”, as the defendant has used the phrase ‘Good Time’ on one of its products. The plaintiffs have made a case both of trademark infringement and of passing off.

As earlier reported by ET, both companies are now trying to resolve the issue through out of court settlements and that Future Group has proposed to make some changes to its packs. Access Link: Source (here)

DELHI HC RESTRAINS DMW E-RICKSHAW FROM USING MARK SIMILAR TO THAT OF BMW

The interim order was passed by a single Judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath in a suit filed by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG seeking to permanently restrain e-rickshaw manufacturer, Om Balajee Automobile from manufacturing, exporting or otherwise dealing with goods bearing the mark ‘DMW’ or any other mark which is identical or deceptively similar to BMW.

BMW argued that the Om Balajee’s mark DMW was deceptively similar to in appearance, sound and structure to the ‘BMW’ mark and was thus is in complete violation of the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s trademark rights.

The Plaintiff contended that the Defendant was using DMW mark in relation to goods such as e-rickshaws which were somewhat similar to automobiles covered by the BMW mark.

The Defendant, on the other hand, argued that the nature of the product, class of buyers and trade channels of the product of the two were entirely different. It was also stated that colour, font and size of the two marks were not deceptively similar.

The Court rejected the Defendant’s argument based on the different nature of the products manufactured by the two companies. Observing that the strength of the Plaintiff’s trademark could not be disputed, the Court said, “The use of the mark DMW by the defendant prima facie appears to be a dishonest act with an intention of trying to take advantage of the reputation and goodwill of the brand of the plaintiff. It is likely to mislead an average man of ordinary intelligence. Such use by the defendant is detrimental to the reputation of the registered mark BMW of the plaintiff company.”. Access Link: Source (here)

HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY SUES NETFLIX OVER CLAIMS ON PHRASE ‘TIGER KING’

Hollywood Weekly Magazine (HWM) and its founder and publisher, Prather Jackson, are together hoping to devour Netflix, CBS Studios, Paramount and Imagine Television for trademark and copyright infringement, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment for the use of the “Title King” mark and exhibition of the issues of the HWM publication itself in one of the most popular series on Netflix, “Tiger King”. They claim that they own the trademark “The Tiger King.” HWM is also seeking to enforce the use of their trademark for “Hollywood Weekly” itself. The lawsuit claims that the phrase “Tiger King” was coined by HWM in 2013 and was used exclusively in connection with HWM’s numerous magazines that specifically profiled famous/infamous Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. Joe Exotic. HWM alleges false designation of origin and that Netflix failed to properly search for the mark before using it. Access link: Source (here)

LIQUOR BRANDS OVERRIDE AD BANS BY LEVERAGING DIGITAL

It appears the liquor brands which can’t use television or print, are utilising OTT platforms in the absence of advertising codes. SonyLiv, between the breaks in England- Pakistan cricket match, flashed commercials for liquor brands. The Ad was for Liquor firm Diageo for its 180 ml pocket-size flasks called ‘Hipsters’ launched last year for scotch whiskey brands Black Dog, Black & White and Vat 69. Liquor companies, which got around a ban on promoting their products by resorting to surrogate advertising, are now using the digital medium liberally, taking advantage of the absence of clear guidelines. Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said that these matters are beyond the scope of ASCI and such matters are best examined and dealt with by the concerned regulators. Access Link: Source (here)

BOMBAY HIGH COURT RESTRAINS ARISTO APPARELS FROM USING “SERO” OR DECEPTIVELY SIMILAR MARKS FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

In a suit of trademark infringement, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order of injunction against company M/s Aristo Apparels for selling men’s clothing under brand “SERON”. The Court stated that Savla Corporation’s trademark (plaintiff’s mark) is SERO and the defendant had merely added a ‘N’ to the plaintiff’s mark and has also infringed the copyrighted artwork/brand logo of Savla Corporation’s trademark “SERO”. The Court ordered the receiver to immediately seize and seal all offending products found in the premises of M/s Aristo Apparels to protect the trademark of “SERO” brand name belonging to the Savla Corporation. Access Link: Source (here)

XII. MISCELLANEOUS

BOMBAY HIGH COURT RESTRAINED TRAI’S NEW TARIFF ORDER (NTO 2.0)

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had directed broadcasters to ensure compliance of the new tariff order (NTO 2.0), which was notified on January 1, 2020.  TRAI had sought details of all the channels and bouquets from the broadcasters by August 10, 2020 including name, nature, language, MRP of channels and bouquets per month. The regulator had also asked the broadcasters to amend their reference interconnect offer (RIO) in compliance with the provisions of NTO 2.0 and publish on their respective websites. However, in October, 2020, the Bombay High Court reserved its judgement on the NTO 2.0 case and said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) cannot take any coercive action against broadcasters for non-implementation of the 2020 regulatory framework. Source (here)

SONY PICTURES NETWORK AND VIACOM 18 MEDIA’S MERGER WAS CALLED OFF

Viacom18, a 51:49 joint venture between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)-owned Network18 and US-based Viacom Inc called off its merger with Sony Pictures which had been in the works for a year-and-a-half. Ambani’s television networks housed in Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd were to merge with Sony Corp, with the Japanese giant having a bigger stake in the merged entity. However, Reliance had a rethink and decided not to pursue the merger route. It was reported that the issued allegedly cropped up regarding majority stake in the merged entity. Source (here)

NETFLIX UNVEILED USER INTERFACE IN HINDI

A move that might be seen as another attempt to reach out to consumers in small towns and widen its audience base in India, American streaming service Netflix has launched a user interface in Hindi. The complete Netflix interface, from sign up to search rows, collections and payment, is now available in Hindi across all devices on mobile, TV and web. Netflix members outside India will also have the option to switch their user interface to Hindi. Source (here)

LAUNCH AND TIE UP: SHEMAROOME BOX OFFICE AND BOOKMYSHOW

ShemarooMe (Shemaroo’s streaming service) has launched the ‘ShemarooMe Box Office’, a platform via which ShemarooMe shall sell access to view films on a transactional video on demand basis. Shemaroo has tied up with BookMyShow to sell and monetise films before their rights are sold to subscription-based video on demand and other TV channels. Viewers can book their tickets for these films by logging on www.bookmyshow.com or directly on the ShemarooMe App or www.ShemarooMe.com. Once booked, users can watch the film on ShemarooMe any number of times over 3 days from the booking period. Source (here)

BOMBAY HC ORDERED PANORAMA STUDIOS TO GIVE COMPENSATION TO ANEES BAZMEE

Anees Bazmee, a renowned writer-director, took Panorama Studios and others to Court to recover amounts to the tune of Rs. 1.08 crores that were due to him for his contribution in the film ‘Pagalpanti’. On hearing the matter, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court opined that the aforesaid amount was due and payable and ordered Panorama Studios to create a lien and charge on 50% of the intellectual property rights in the film in favour of the plaintiff, till the aforementioned amount was fully paid off. Additionally, Panorama Studios was also directed to deposit in court all present and future revenues earned from exploitation of the film. Source (here)

CENTRE DECIDES TO PUT CAPS ON CROSS-HOLDING BY TELCOS AND OTTS TO PREVENT MONOPOLIES

Considering that the boundaries are blurring between telecom operators and OTT players like Amazon, Flipkart, Google, Facebook etc., the government has decided to put in place caps in terms of cross-holding OTTs and telecom service providers can have in each other to prevent any monopolies to come up. The decision came after the recent deals of Facebook and Google buying 9.9% and 7.7% stake, respectively, in Jio Platforms. The idea to have a cross-holding cap struck as there’s a similar cap in place for telecom firms buying stake into each other. Percentage cap to be fixed for OTTs and telcos is yet to be decided. Access Link: Source (here)

TRP SCAM UPDATE: REPUBLIC TV CEO GRANTED BAIL; FORMER CEO OF BARC SENT TO POLICE CUSTODY

The Mumbai police in October had arrested several people in relation to the TRP scam, alleging TV News Channels were paying viewers to manipulate viewership ratings. A complaint during the initial investigation revealed that these accused persons had manipulated the sampling metering services by inducing the barometer users by paying them periodically to watch particular television channels. The case was registered in the Kandivali police station for breach of trust and cheating against the accused. In recent developments, Partho Dasgupta, a former CEO of the rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was remanded in police custody till 28th December and Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani was granted bail after being in Police Custody till December 15. Source (here and here)

NETFLIX HOSTED STREAM FEST IN INDIA ALLOWING FREE VIEWING ON DECEMBER 5-6 WEEKEND

US-based content streaming platform Netflix hosted ‘Stream Fest’ in India on December 5-6 that allowed non-subscribers to experience the service for free. The move was aimed at bringing new users to the platform that competes against players like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and Zee5 in the burgeoning OTT (over the top) market in India. Source (here)

HIGH COURT SERVES NOTICES TO RAM GOPAL VARMA FOR DISHA MOVIE

On hearing the arguments on the petition filed by the family members of accused in  Disha case, the Telangana High Court has issued notices to Tollywood director Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) filmmaker, Central Board of Film Certification, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and others. The counsel for the petitioners stated to High Court that the decision of film maker to make a movie on the lives of victims was causing a lot of emotional pain to them. The Petitioner further claimed that the film maker was making attempts to show the victims as villains in the movie & urged the High Court to issue orders of stay on the release of the movie on Disha. Source (here)

RAJINIKANTH’S ‘DARBAR’ TELECAST ON TV CHANNEL DAYS AFTER RELEASE, LYCA PRODUCTIONS FILES COMPLAINT

Lyca Productions, the producers of Rajinikanth’s Darbar, lodged a police complaint seeking action against a local cable television channel for illegally telecasting the film that was released in January. Stating that this was a huge blow to the producers and distributors who were involved in the production of the movie, Lyca Productions had asked the police to take strict action against those who were engaged in the piracy of the movie. Source (here)

FILM MAKERS WITHDREW PLEA FROM BOMBAY HC AGAINST MUMBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FOR EXCLUDING THEIR DOCUMENTARY FROM FILM FESTIVAL

Film makers Anand Patwardhan and Pankaj Kumar had moved the Bombay High Court against Mumbai International Film Festival and others for rejecting his film from being included in the film festival. Petitioners alleged that the common thread that runs through some of the documentaries that were not selected for exhibition including the petitioner’s films is that they are critical of the current political dispensation or the political philosophy that they claim to espouse. Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, representing the Films Division of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that organises the festival, explained the selection process of the films, and said the films were rejected after a scrutiny by the selection committee. The petitioners agreed to withdraw the plea, however the division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Chagla stated that “We should not inflict further damage to India by not accepting a contrary view. People who voice a contrary view feel they are targeted and hence are excluded. You (government) should also give them a platform.”

Patwardhan, in a statement subsequent to the order, stated that the case was withdrawn to avoid setting a precedent that filmmakers cannot raise their voice, which would have happened had they lost the case. Source (here)

KUNAL KAMRA V. ARNAB GOSWAMI: KAMRA ISSUES LEGAL NOTICE TO INDIGO

Comedian Kunal Kamra was banned by various airlines pursuant to his viral video questioning journalist Arnab Goswami on-board an IndiGo flight. The move was condemned by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Chief Arun Kumar. After the move, even the Pilot-in-Command of the said flight questioned the ban as such a move against an unruly customer may only be taken at the suggestion of the Pilot.

Kunal Kamra also filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against the ban imposed by various airlines on his travel with them.

Kamra has now issued a legal notice to IndiGo airlines to revoke the suspension, and also give him a compensation of 25 lakh on account of mental pain and agony. He has alleged that the Airlines has acted in an arbitrary fashion, and his acts on-board the flight were within his right of freedom of speech and expression. H has alleged that the ban of 6 months, which exceeds the stipulated ban of 3 months given in the Civil Aviation Rules 2017, was against the principles of natural justice. Source (here)

MEDIA HOUSES SHOULD BE VIGILANT AND SHOULD VERIFY INFORMATION BEFORE RUNNING FALSE REPORTS ON THE JUDICIARY: KARNATAKA HIGH COURT

In a case pertaining to the publication and telecasting of false reports on a member of the judiciary, the Karnataka High Court on 28th January imposed a hefty fine on 4 media houses.

The media houses had earlier reported that the High Court vigilance cell had conducted a raid on a judicial officer and had seized cash from their residence. The media houses admitted that the report was run without verification of the same. The act was held to be an offence under The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 for running scandalous and false reports against the judiciary.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar therefore fined 3 Kannada and 1 English Television channel a total sum of Rs. 73 lakhs, besides tendering an unconditional apology. The bench said that the decision must be taken as a lesson by all media houses before running scandalous and unverified information against the judiciary. Source (here)

INDIA EXPLORES OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATIONS IN FILMS WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNTERPARTS

Members of the Indian delegation at the Berlin International Film Festival-2020 met representatives of European Film Market. During the meeting in Berlin, they held discussions including on the recent policy initiatives of Government of India to ensure ease of filming including setting up of a single window system Film Facilitation Office and its web portal www.ffo.gov.in for online application for shooting films in India.

Director of EFM. Mr Knol, said that the stakeholders of EFM would actively consider participating in the 51st IFFI. He also underlined that the participation would pave a way forward for more interaction between the Indian stakeholders and the industry with the organizers of Berlinale in future. Mr Knol also said that he hopes that there will be more active participation from the Indian Government and other stakeholders in the future editions of Berlinale.

The delegation also met with prominent Festival and Film Commissions. The representatives from Raindance and Edinburgh Film Festivals discussed about opportunities of future collaborations with IFFI-2020. Source (here)

I&B MINISTRY ASKS TV CHANNELS TO PUBLICISE TRAVEL ADVISORY DUE COVID-19

When the deadly coronavirus with its epicentre in Wuhan, China slowly reached into several parts of the world and cases of Indians who had contracted COVID-19 came to light, The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) in March urged the electronic media to help spread the message.

The following are the tickers TV channels were advised to carry:

  1. Indian citizens are advised to refrain from travel to China, Iran, Republic of Korea, Italy and Japan.
  2. Indian citizens are advised to avoid travel to other COVID-19 affected countries.
  3. Passengers coming from abroad to India need to furnish duly filled self-declaration form and travel history to health and immigration officials at all ports and airports.
  4. For any health-related query call at ministry of health and family welfare, GOI’s 24X7 control room number +91-11-23978046 or email at ncov2019@gmail.com. Source (here)

MULTIPLEXES DEMAND EXEMPTION FROM STATUTORY DUES, LOAN MORATORIUM

The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) had requested the government to grant exemption to multiplexes from payment of statutory dues and a loan moratorium for one year in view of them being hit hard due to the closure ordered by various state governments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The MAI had also asked for a waiver of the minimum demand charges on electricity. Source (here)

SOP RELEASED FOR RESUMPTION OF FILM AND TV SHOOTINGS AMID COVID PANDEMIC

Information and Broadcasting Ministry released the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for film and TV programme shooting amid COVID pandemic. The measures, inter alia, include social distancing and mandatory use of face cover or masks for cast and crew, barring those who are in front of camera, the temperature setting of ACs are mandated to be in the range of 24-30 degree celsius, visitors/audience members are to be prevented on sets, no sharing of makeup items, wigs, costumes, use of Aarogya Setu app on film/TV sets was advised. It was asserted that these measures will facilitate resumption of shooting and provide employment to scores of people impacted due to the film industry being hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Source (here)

CO-PRODUCTION TREATY TO TAKE INDIA-ITALY COOPERATION TO A NEW LEVEL

In his address at the Venice Film Festival, 2020, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Mr. Prakash Javadekar, announced that India and Italy agreed on the Rules of Procedure for Co-production Treaty. Source (here)

DELHI HIGH COURT ASKS MEHUL CHOKSI: IS YOUR CONDUCT CONSISTENT WITH CLAIM FOR FAIR TRIAL, INVESTIGATION?

Delhi High Court probed a question to Mehul Choksi, an accused in the $2 billion PNB scam who went to the U.S. for treatment and ended up taking citizenship of Antigua, whether his claims for a fair trial and investigation were consistent with his own conduct. Choksi’s plea for pre-screening of Netflix docuseries ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’ had been dismissed. The single judge had dismissed Choksi’s plea on the ground that he had an alternative remedy available i.e. filing a civil suit and that a writ petition for enforcement of a private right was not maintainable. Source (here)

APPLAUSE ENTERTAINMENT TO INVEST UP TO RS 4,000 CRORE ACROSS VERTICALS

Kumar Mangalam Birla the owner of the content studio Applause Entertainment expects to invest up to Rs 4,000 crore in the next three to four years as part of a plan to further expand their reach across film, animation, factual entertainment, and gaming verticals. Initially, Applause’s model was limited to creating shows and licensing them on a cost-plus commission basis. Applause wants to take its model and expand it across new verticals. The company is now open for co-production and co-financing models. Source (here)

EVENTS INDUSTRY WILL HAVE TO EVOLVE AND ADAPT TO COPE WITH THE NEW NORMAL, POST-PANDEMIC

On October 11, 2020, YouTube’s biggest and most popular annual on-ground property, YouTube FanFest, went digital. The first ever virtual FanFest featured over 150 creators and artists from across the Asia-Pacific region with special appearances from global YouTube stars. Besides this, a bunch of other event organisers too have pivoted to virtual events after the industry shuddered into a long limbo due to the Covid-19 crisis. Source (here)

MULTIPLEXES, THEME PARKS IN MAHARASHTRA YET TO GET ENTERTAINMENT TAX REFUND

Theme parks and multiplexes in Maharashtra may move court to get the entertainment tax refund that was promised as incentive in the state’s tourism policy but was later subsumed under the goods and services tax (GST).These companies haven’t received tax refund despite a high-level committee — formed by the order of the Bombay High Court — allocating 110 crore for speedy processing of the grants. With no respite in sight, these companies are considering moving court for relief. Source (here)

MARATHI OTT SERVICE PLANET MARATHI OUTSOURCES AD SALES, SUBSCRIBER MONETISATION TO ADDS2OTT

Marathi video streaming service Planet Marathi has outsourced its marketing, advertising and subscription monetisation strategy to ads2OTT, a soon to be launched integrated OTT exchange owned by 361 Degree Entertainment & Media. Following the deal, the Planet Marathi team will now focus on its core strength. Source (here)

APPLE, AIRTEL, JIO AND NETFLIX LEAD CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: KANTAR

Airtel and Reliance Jio, Apple, Netflix and Tata Sky have emerged as the leaders in their respective categories in terms of customer experience (CX) as per Kantar, the data, insights and consulting firm.
The findings are from Kantar’s Experience Advantage Report 2020 for the Telecom, Media and Technology (TMT) sector. The report evaluates companies in the sector based on a combination of their experience scores, on dimensions that are critical to the customer’s journey. The report highlights how top brands are evolving to better meet consumers’ needs; where service providers are doing the exact opposite of what consumers want; and which experience touch points are important to today’s customers. Source (here)

STREAMING PLATFORM ALTBALAJI PICKS UP 17.5% STAKE IN CELEBRITY ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM TRING

ALTBalaji, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms, has acquired a 17.5% stake in the online celebrity digital engagement platform, Tring. As part of this transaction, ALT Balaji will be entitled to appoint one board member to represent them on the board of BD Inno Ventures (the parent company of Tring). Source (here)

BOMBAY HIGH COURT SETS ASIDE BARC ORDER AGAINST TV TODAY

Relieving TV Today Network, the Bombay High Court set aside the order of the disciplinary committee of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) against the network. In its oral order, a division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Milind Jadhav, while setting aside the BARC’s order, also directed the court registrar to return the ₹5 lakh which TV Today Network had deposited in the court at the time of filing the case. Source (here)

ZEE rejigs organisational structure; forms verticals for content, technology and monetisation

Zee Entertainment Enterprises has unveiled a new organisational structure, dividing businesses into different verticals for content, technology, and revenue and monetisation. The second vertical will be digital businesses and platforms, where ZEE will bring together all of its digital assets – ZEE5 (Domestic AVOD+SVOD), ZEE5 Global, SugarBox and Digital Publishing, under a single umbrella. The company will also be combining the different parts of its movies business, which are currently embedded in multiple domains, into a single integrated platform. Source (here)

PRASAR BHARATI SIGNS MOU WITH ELECTRONICS AND IT MINISTRY TO LAUNCH 51  TV CHANNELS DEDICATED TO EDUCATION

India’s public broadcaster Prasar Bharati on Wednesday entered into an MoU with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to launch 51 direct-to-home (DTH) TV channels with educational content. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Prasar Bharati and Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology aims to bring quality educational programmes to every household, including those in rural and remote areas. Source (here)

DON’T MALIGN INDIVIDUALS: GOVT TO PVT CHANNELS

The Information and Broadcasting ministry asked all private television channels to adhere to the content norms and emphasised that no programme should criticise, malign or slander any individual or certain groups. In its advisory, the I&B ministry said, on various occasions, it has issued advisories to TV channels to broadcast content adhering to the Programme and Advertising Codes under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. As per the Code, no programme should criticise, malign or slander any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country. Source (here)

PVR WINS ENTERTAINMENT TAX CASE IN MADRAS HIGH COURT

The Madras High Court stated the online booking charge of ₹30, collected by theatres over and above the cost of each ticket, cannot be subjected to entertainment tax by the Commercial Taxes Department, under the Tamil Nadu Entertainment Tax Act of 1939. Justice Vineet Kothari and M.S. Ramesh held that online booking charges, collected by cinema halls, were for the additional service provided to customers, and they were not mandatory for gaining entry into theatres. Therefore, such a charge could not be subjected to entertainment tax. Source (here)

SUPREME COURT ORDERS INSTALLATION OF CCTV CAMERAS WITH AUDIO AND VIDEO RECORDING IN ALL INVESTIGATION AGENCIES AND POLICE STATIONS.

In a move aimed at checking police brutality, the Supreme Court has passed an order that every police station in the country must be equipped with night-vision Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, capable of recording both the video and the audio. Apart from police stations, CCTV cameras will have to be installed at the offices of the CBI, NIA, ED, NCB, DRI, SFIO and any other central agency office which does interrogations, and has the power to arrest people. According to the order, CCTV cameras should be installed across a given police station, including the main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, areas outside the lock-up room, all corridors, reception, all verandas/outhouses, inspector’s room, and even outside toilets. Source (here)

SUN TV FILES CASE AGAINST TRAI IN MADRAS HIGH COURT

As per reports, Sun TV Network has challenged TRAI’s recent amendments to the New Tariff Order and filed a case in the Madras High Court.  The Madras HC order says: “According to the contention raised, neither the broadcaster nor the subscriber are to gain and it is rather “the middlemen” who would be absolutely gaining out of this transaction, where they have an assured revenue without caring for any assessment of the choice or the price affordability vis-a-vis the ultimate consumer or the broadcaster. Several other submissions have also been raised to support the aforesaid contentions.”

As per the court order, the argument in the petitions say: “The contention is that the impugned tariff as well as the Regulations cumulatively have resulted in a regulatory shock without assessing or analysing the entire foundation for bringing about the changed tariff, which, according to him, has not been attempted empirically and which also, according to his submissions, is reflected in the minutes recorded in this regard by TRAI itself.” According to the petition, “There was absolutely no material available either scientifically or legally assessed that could support the introduction of the tariff.”

The order said: “The contention, therefore, is that neither mathematically nor even applying the regulatory jurisprudence, which has to be necessarily subscriber friendly, has any assessment been made and it appears to be an assessment made on an individual analysis made by the TRAI or on the basis of information which can be termed to be speculative and not based on any scientific data.”

The network has said that the regulatory body had amended NTO without consulting the broadcasters.

Madras HC has now scheduled the matter for February 4 and has made the Centre a party to the same.

TRAI has been asked to provide its response when the case is taken up next.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on January 13 had filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court against the regulatory body seeking a stay on the implementation of the recent amendments to the New Tariff Order.

NEED TO REGULATE ‘PERVERSE, ILLUSORY PRICING’ BY BROADCASTERS, TRAI SAYS

The telecom regulator TRAI has cited the mischief of  “perverse and illusory pricing” of broadcasters to defend its Jan. 1 tariff order.

The TRAI argued against staying or deferring the order in the Bombay High Court, saying that it was issued in the “overwhelming interest” of consumers.

The court had, in January, denied broadcasters any relief but found the case fit for further arguments.

An association representing consumers also moved court, seeking intervention in one of the applications filed by the Indian Broadcasting Federation.

Its counsel argued that broadcasters have hiked the prices of pay channels manifold, in order to gain profits at the expense of consumers. The association cited its earlier representations in the Supreme Court in support of its intervening application

The intent behind the order was to make the pricing of pay channels more realistic and customisable for consumers. Broadcasters keep pushing unwanted channels by including them in bouquets. Mischief of illusory and perverse pricing by broadcasters compels viewers to subscribe to a spread of channels that they otherwise may not want to subscribe.

I&B MINISTRY SUSPENDS BROADCAST OF TWO KERALA-BASED NEWS CHANNELS FROM 7.30 PM FOR 48 HOURS OVER THEIR REPORTING OF DELHI VIOLENCE.

I&B Ministry suspends broadcast of two Kerala-based news channels from 7.30 pm for 48 hours over their reporting of Delhi violence.

KERALA HC STAYS TRAI REGULATION ON FREEZING OF PLACEMENT OF CHANNELS

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIB HAS RELEASED NEW GUIDELINES FOR UPLINKING AND DOWNLINKING TELEVISION CHANNELS

New guideline for the uplinking and downlinking of television channels has been released by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB). Under these guidelines, there will be no need for channels to get mandatory clearance every year and permits will be given to Indian teleports to also uplink foreign channels, to facilitate more business. Comments from the stakeholders have been invited on the revised guidelines. Access Link: Source (here)

STAR INDIA BAGS CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA’S MEDIA RIGHTS TILL 2024

Star India has acquired Cricket South Africa’s media rights till the end of the 2023-24 season, including 20 bilateral matches between India and the Proteas side across Asia, Middle East and North Africa. The association will commence with England’s tour to South Africa beginning in the end of this month. The agreement will also cover women’s international cricket matches played by the Momentum Proteas as well as CSA’s domestic men’s franchise matches. Access Link: Source (here)

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