IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (September 26– October 2, 2022)

Single-window clearance likely for theatres in upcoming model policy

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is working on a model theatre policy, in consultation with all state governments, to roll out a pan-India, single-window clearance system, to help revive the sector, ravaged by the covid-led disruptions.

According to government data, since 2017, screen count has come down from 12,000 to 8,000. The downward trend was more pronounced during the two years of the pandemic.

The Ministry for Information and Broadcasting has asked the Film facilitation Office to come up with single window portal for opening theatres, so that more and more theatres can be opened up without much regulatory and procedural hurdles. The Centre is also working with the states to create a model theatre policy to ensure states can adopt and work on the same. The government is considering different models, like all-encompassing entertainment hubs comprising a food court, sports facility, and multiscreen cinemas under one roof which is already becoming popular in parts of India.

Delhi High Court restrains EUROSPORT from using STAR device being deceptively similar to STAR TV

In a case filed by Star Televisions Productions Limited (‘plaintiff’) seeking permanent injunction to restrain EUROSPORT (‘defendants’) from infringing ‘STAR mark’ ‘STAR Device’/trademark belonging to the plaintiffs, Justice Asha Menon allowed the application and granted interim injunction against defendants from using the impugned mark which is identical or deceptively similar to the Plaintiff’s registered STAR Marks including the STAR Device.

The grievance of the plaintiffs is that the defendants have recently renamed their sports channel which was known as DSPORT with the logo of a globe, i.e. to EUROSPORT using the STAR marks in relation to their sports television channels. the brand EUROSPORT was given a facelift and the impugned mark was resultantly adopted in 2015 in order to enhance and modernize EUROSPORT’s visual appeal.

For reference, the comparison of the marks is given below:

The court has held that the continued dishonest use of the Single Star by the defendants would cause irreparable loss and injury to the plaintiffs particularly, by diluting the unique use of the word “STAR” which is a created word. The balance of convenience lies in favour of the plaintiff as they have built up a strong reputation in India over a long period of time, whereas the defendants have just entered the market in 2017 as EUROSPORT.

Digital media not part of new press bill yet: I & B Minister

The government has not yet decided to include digital media under the upcoming draft legislation on the press and periodicals, information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said. The central government has been working on the bill since 2019 to update a colonial era law overseeing the registration of newspapers and periodicals.

The Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill was first introduced in 2019. The Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, 2022, was listed during the monsoon session of Parliament, but was not tabled. The new bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867.

There are close to 140,000 newspapers and periodicals registered under the existing law, the minister said. Registration is important/mandatory because grants a legal status to the paper and sets out a series rules and conditions that it must conform to or face penalties.

The major focus of the new bill will be on increasing the ease of doing business and decriminalisation of earlier provisions, Thakur said.

As far as online news media was concerned, it is covered under the new intermediary and digital media guidelines introduced by the government in February last year. The guidelines require platforms to appoint grievance redressal officers in case of over-the-top platforms and digital news media platforms, and institute a three-tier mechanism for grievance redressal, at the company and industry levels with an inter ministerial committee at its apex. It gives the information and broadcasting ministry takedown powers over the content circulated online.

Zee Media approaches Delhi High Court against I&B Ministry’s order withdrawing permission to uplink channels on KU Band

Zee Media has approached the Delhi High Court challenging an order by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrawing the permission granted to the media house for up linking its TV channels on Ku Band on GSAT-15 Satellite, an arrangement that allegedly gave it an advantage over competitors.

Justice Yashwant Varma, noted that the Ministry’s order came after directions were issued to the Ministry from a Division Bench order of the Delhi High Court.

In view of the aforesaid, Justice Varma held that it would be expedient for this matter to be placed before the appropriate division bench and added that the petition be listed for hearing before the same division bench on October 6.

By being on the GSAT-15 satellite, these channels were accessible on DD FreeDish, effectively making them free-to-air. According to the ministry, this gave Zee an unfair advantage over competitors.

‘Self-discipline, self-certification is what OTT needs, as it’s a very different platform from theatres’-Joint Secretary, MIB 

During a discussion titled ‘The Magic Of Online Curated Content’ at FICCI Frames 2022 in Mumbai, the panellists including Joint Secretary, I&B spoke about regulation of content on OTT platforms. Unlike films released in theatres, web series and films on OTT do not require CBFC certification.

The I & B Joint Secretary informed about the liberal approach of his Ministry and said that the Ministry felt that there has to be self-certification and self-discipline in place of Certification from CBFC.

Currently, there’s a three-level grievance redressal mechanism for OTT content, where platforms are required to have a Grievance Redressal Officer and self-regulatory bodies, while the I&B ministry has an inter-departmental committee for hearing grievances.

Madras High Court Orders Blocking Of More Than 13000 Websites To Prevent Piracy Of Vikram Vedha

The Madras High Court has ordered the blocking of over 13000 websites to prevent piracy of Vikram Vedha, a movie released yesterday. The interim injunction has been passed in a suit filed by Reliance Entertainment Studio Pvt Ltd.

Two separate orders have been passed by the Bench of Justice M. Sundar. The Bench restrained the respondents from infringing Copyright in the movie to prevent transmission, communication, display and exhibition of the movie and ordered that “for this purpose, if blocking of websites/web pages set out in Schedule-A to judge’s summons becomes necessary, the same shall be done by all concerned”.

The Court has also ordered restraining the respondents from recording, reproducing or allowing camera recording or allowing others to transmit, communicate or make available or distributing or duplicating or displaying or releasing or showing or uploading or downloading or exhibiting or playing and/or in any manner whatsoever from communicating the movie without a proper license.

The injunction was granted ex-parte since the Court found that ordering notice will entail delay and defeat the object of granting an interim order.

The Court found that if the interim order is not granted, it can result in the piracy being completed in all aspects of the matter and it will lead to an irreversible situation causing irreparable legal injury incapable of compensation.

The interim injunction has been granted for a period of 6 weeks, on the interim applications.

Click here to read order.

Delhi High Court stays TDSAT order asking broadcasters to furnish information for OTT content

The Delhi High Court on 28th September, 2022 stayed an order passed by the TDSAT last week, directing broadcasters to furnish information on content made available on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

The matter is significant since it pertains to the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that regulates both the telecom and broadcasting sectors.

Trai’s stated position in earlier judicial proceedings has been that it does not regulate OTT platforms or content related to them.

“Prima facie, the court finds itself unable to sustain the order of September 20 by TDSAT,” said the order dated September 28 by Delhi HC.

The court also noted that the issue of applicability of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to OTT platforms and the regulation of those platforms are a matter pending consideration before the Supreme Court and therefore this matter would require consideration.

However, the September 20 order by TDSAT was based on a directive given by Trai to television (TV) networks to submit details on content made available on their own OTT platforms, as well as third-party applications.

TDSAT had earlier provided ad-interim protection to broadcasters against coercive action by Trai.