Supreme Court Upholds Dream11 Online Fantasy Sports Format As ‘Game Of Skill’

On hearing a petition questioning the nature of business of fantasy cricket operators Dream11, the SC has once again reaffirmed the judgements passed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court and the Bombay High Court, and has upheld the judgment passed by Rajasthan High Court, where the legality of the online fantasy sports format as offered by Dream11 as a ‘Game of Skill’ was sustained.

The debate whether fantasy cricket is a matter of skill or chance was lingering for over two years. Courts had contemptuously dismissed a slew of petitions in favour of Dream11.

The Real Money Gaming platforms like Dream11, MPL, Games 24×7 have insisted that online games like cricket, rummy, poker (and now ludo) overwhelmingly require skill and the chance element is negligible.

The hearing came in the wake of a SLP filed by Avinash Mehrotra challenging the Rajasthan High Court division bench judgement in February 2020 that gave Dream11 a clean chit, saying that fantasy cricket is a game of skill and there was no question of betting or gambling.

The Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and B.R. Gavai said the issue was not res integra (unique) and had been the subject of several judgments. SLP’s have come up from the Punjab & Haryana High Court and the Bombay High Court, both of which were dismissed.

The SC reaffirmed the judgement of Rajasthan HC which held that games like Dream 11 involves “substantial skills” and is a “business activity” protected under the fundamental right to practice trade or any profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Read order here.

Rummy & Poker Are Games of Skills: Madras High Court While Striking Down Online Gaming Ban

The Madras High Court struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 which imposes a ban on playing of games such as rummy and poker on cyberspace with stakes. Section 11 of the impugned legislation also banned games of ‘mere skill’ if such games are played for wager, bet, stake, or even money.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthikumar Ramamoorthy was adjudicating upon a batch of petitions filed by gaming companies who offer access to card games like rummy and also poker on virtual platforms.

The petitioners had contended that the impugned legislation by prohibiting even games of skills, if played for any prize, violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution (right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business). Reliance was also placed on the Madras High Court judgement in Dr.K.R.Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu wherein it was held that a game of skill may necessarily involve an element of chance, but the success therein would depend “principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player.”

The bench through its order conveyed that “There appears to be a little doubt that both rummy and poker are games of skill as they involve considerable memory, working out of percentages, the ability to follow the cards on the table and constantly adjust to the changing possibilities of the unseen cards. Poker may not have been recognised in any previous judgment in this country to be a game of skill, but the evidence in such regard as apparent from the American case even convinced the Law Commission to accept the poker as a game of skill in its 276th Report”.

Furthermore, the Court observed that gambling is equated with gaming and the activity involves chance to such a predominant extent that the element of skill that may also be involved cannot control the outcome. Whereas, a ‘game of skill’ on the other hand includes the exercise of skill that can overpower that chance element involved in the activity such that the better skilled would prevail more often than not.

Accordingly, the Court held that games such as rummy and poker cannot be banned by the impugned legislation and that the legislation is ‘manifestly arbitrary and ultra vires of the Constitution.

Read Order: here.

“No Ill-Will Against Lawyers”: Rajasthan High Court Dismisses Defamation Complaint Against Akshay Kumar Concerning ‘Jolly LLB 2

The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday dismissed a criminal complaint for defamation filed in the year 2017 against Actor Akshay Kumar concerning the movie – Jolly LLB 2.

The Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Sharma also quashed the order of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Jaipur Metropolitan Sanganer taking cognizance under Section 500 IPC against Akshay Kumar on the basis of the trailer of the film Jolly LLB 2.

A criminal complaint for Defamation had been filed on the basis of the trailer of the film Jolly LLB 2, alleging that some scenes of the film were against the Lawyers’ community.

The Counsel for Akshay Kumar submitted before the Court that the entire film Jolly LLB 2 was scrutinized by the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) in a PIL, and in compliance with its order, some scenes were deleted, and thereafter a necessary certificate was issued by the Central Board of Films Certification (hereinafter CBFC’).

It was further submitted that in the past four years, there had been no objection from any section of the Society against the film so released after the certification.

It was argued that the trailer was also approved by the CBFC and the presumption was in favor of the film so released after due certification by the CBFC that the same had no content of defamation against anyone.

Lastly, referring to the order of taking Cognizance, the Counsel submitted that the impugned order of cognizance was violative of fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Read order here.

Hansal Mehta’s Captain India accused of plagiarism by Operation Yemen producer

Operation Yemen’s producer Subhash Kale has accused the makers of Captain India of plagiarism. He claimed that the plot of the movie is similar to that of their project. Operation Yemen is based on the 2015 Operation Raahat when the Indian Armed Forces under General VK Singh evacuated Indian citizens as well as foreign nationals from Yemen during the Yemeni Crisis.

Although the poster doesn’t mention that Captain India is based on Operation Raahat, Subhash said that the poster has ‘clear giveaways that their film is based on the same incident’.

He claimed that the city of Sana’a, the capital of Yemen is visible on Captain India’s poster, just like how it’s depicted in Operation Yemen’s poster as well. He further added that the city’s architecture and landscape are such that it doesn’t match with any other city in the world. Also, the poster shows carpet-bombing happening over the city, an aeroplane going over Sana’a and the title Captain India are clear giveaways that Hansal Mehta’s film is based on the same incident.

Subhash said that even if the scripts of both films are different, the storyline would be the same and therefore both the films will be similar, making it a repeat of the Scam 1992 (2020) and The Big Bull (2021) episode.

India recognises AI as co-author of copyrighted artwork

For the first time ever in India, the copyright office has recognised an artificial intelligence tool – RAGHAV Artificial Intelligence Painting App – as the co-author of a copyright-protected artistic work.

Ankit Sahni, an IP lawyer who owns the AI-based app, is the other author and is registered as the copyright owner. He had filed two copyright applications for two AI-generated artworks, claiming himself as the owner. The copyright office rejected the first application, which listed RAGHAV as the sole author. The second application, on which both Sahni and the AI were named as co-authors, was granted registration.

While the existing legislation has its own set of limitations, the act of granting recognition to an AI program as co-author of an artistic work marks the beginning of an era of change that governments across the world will be working on.

However, Sahni anticipates that the registration may be challenged in court due to ambiguity in the legislation and jurisprudence. Several jurisdictions worldwide do not yet recognise AI authorship under copyright law. In India, the provisions of the Copyright Act are unclear about who can claim authorship of an AI-created work that did not involve any human input, said Sahni.

The news comes just a week after South Africa became the first country to issue a patent designating an AI tool – DABUS – as the inventor.

Read More here.

Right To Be Forgotten- Courts Can’t Direct Redaction of Names of Acquitted Persons From Records In Absence Of Statutory Backing: Madras HC

The Madras High Court has refused to redact the name of a person from court records, who was acquitted of all criminal charges levelled against him, while stating that there is now law in India that contemplates such a request.

The order has come in a plea wherein a man earlier accused of offences under Sections 417 (cheating) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was subsequently acquitted of all charges. He moved the High Court to redact his name from the Court’s judgment.

The petitioner had contended that although he was acquitted of all charges, anybody who types his name in Google search unfortunately will be able to access the concerned judgement wherein he has been labelled as an accused. This causes a serious impediment to his reputation and accordingly he sought the Court’s leave to redact his name from the concerned judgement.

The court observed that the administration of justice is a task carried out in public interest. Hence, “right to be forgotten” cannot exist in the sphere of administration of justice particularly in the context of judgments delivered by Courts. The only exception, is in cases of victims of rape and other sexual offences where the Supreme Court itself has directed that the identity of victims cannot be disclosed.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh then added that “In the absence of any statutory backing this Court cannot undertake the exercise of issuing directions when no judicially manageable standards exist in the first place. There must be a proper policy formulated in this regard by means of specific rules”.

He further noted that “It will be more appropriate to await the enactment of the Data Protection Act and Rules thereunder, which may provide an objective criterion while dealing with the plea of redaction of names of accused persons who are acquitted from criminal proceedings. If such uniform standards are not followed across the country, the constitutional courts will be riding an unruly horse which will prove to be counterproductive to the existing system.”

Read order here.

PV Sindhu to take legal action against brands cashing on her popularity without permission by using her image and name in their products

As per reports, PV Sindhu is going to take legal action against such brands which allegedly marketed themselves in the name of Sindhu’s bronze medal without her permission.

Baseline Ventures which manage Sindhu’s commercial deals told that they will be sending a legal notice to the brands on Sindhu’s behalf seeking damages worth five crore rupees.

The Managing Director of the sports marketing firm exclaimed that they are surprised how such leading Indian and global firms are resorting to these forms of communication to associate with the athletes, which is in complete breach of their IPR and privacy.

Some of the brands accused of unethical practices are P&G, Pan Bahar, Perfetti Van Melle and others.

The right to publicity comes from the right to piracy which is a fundamental right in India. Celebrities and athletes also hold the copyright to their performances and work so using their voice, name, image or personal details without permission is an unethical practice.

Read more here.

TV show forced to change title after Manan Desai wins trademark infringement suit filed in Bombay HC

Recently, comedian Manan Desai filed a trademark infringement suit in the Bombay High Court against a channel for using the words ‘Comedy Factory’ for their show title. Later, the channel agreed to not use these words and the show was later renamed to Comedy Show.

Manan, who is the co-founder of The Comedy Factory, had sent a legal notice to the channel after he learnt that the channel was all set to launch a show with the same name.

The name “Comedy Factory” is a legal trademark owned by Manan’s company. He contacted the new show makers even before the show’s promos were out. He requested them to change the name of the show but still, the show was being promoted with the same name on social media. Resultantly, Manan Desai moved the Bombay High Court and requested for an injunction. He said that his objective was to stop the telecast of the show because it was really damaging his company in the internet space. The company had got the name “Comedy Factory” registered under trademark laws and as per the law, the same name or title cannot be used.”

[Broadcast of copyrighted music] “Appears somewhat unworkable:” Madras High Court issues notice in challenge to Rule 29(4) of Copyright Rules

The Madras High Court issued notice on a petition moved by a radio broadcaster challenging the validity of Rule 29 (4) of the Copyright Rules, 2013.

Rule 29 (4) pertains to information to be furnished to copyright owners prior to the broadcast of copyrighted musical works, literary works etc. as part of the process to obtain permission to broadcast such content.

As per Rule 29, the information prescribed under Rule 29 (4) has to be furnished to the copyright holder five days before the proposed broadcast. The second proviso to Rule 29, however, permits broadcasters to furnish information within 24 hours after the broadcast as well, if unforeseen circumstances arise (i.e., it permits ex post facto notice as an exception to the Rule in unforeseen circumstances).

Pertinently, as interim relief, the Court extended the time given under the second proviso to Rule 29 to “within fifteen days” after the broadcast, but subject to obtaining prior permission before the broadcast.