Bombay High Court Grants Interim Reliefs to T-Series and Hungama Against Reliance Big Entertainment

The Bombay High Court granted Interim Reliefs to T-Series and Hungama Digital Media in a dispute against Reliance Big Entertainment regarding copyright and assignment agreements for several films. The controversy between the parties arose on account of RBEP Entertainment Private Limited, purportedly terminating the Long Form Agreement dated 05.12.2009. The court examined the agreements and concluded that the nine films in question were not covered under the LFA. The plaintiffs and defendant No.1 had entered into independent assignment agreements for these films, assigning copyrights to the plaintiffs. Therefore, the termination of the LFA did not affect these agreements, and interim relief was granted in favour of the plaintiffs for these nine films. Regarding the films covered under the LFA, the court analyzed the interpretation of clauses 6 and 6.1 of the agreement. It found that termination of the LFA did not automatically reassign the copyrights to defendant No.1 without a written reassignment document. There were disputes and controversies surrounding the compliance with the termination clauses, including issues of timely payment and authorization. The court determined that there was a strong prima facie case in favour of the plaintiffs and that the reassignment of copyrights did not occur automatically without satisfying the requirements under Section 19 of the Copyright Act. Therefore, interim relief was granted to the plaintiffs for these films as well. The court emphasized the need for resolving the outstanding disputes before reassignment could take place.

Read the order here.

Bombay High Court Denies Relief to Shemaroo Entertainment Against T-Series Citing Lack of Prima Facie Case

The plaintiff filed a suit claiming copyright in 24 cinematographic films and seeking interim relief against defendant No.1 (T Series) for allegedly infringing copyrights by publishing audio-visuals of songs from the films on YouTube without permission. The plaintiff claims to be the absolute owner of the copyright in the films and the audio-visual songs based on agreements executed in its favour by various entities whereas the defendant claimed rights in the films, specifically limited to the audio-visuals of songs, through agreements/assignments executed in its favour by the original producers/owners and alleged that between 1985 and 1990, assignment deeds were executed assigning only audio rights to defendant No.1, while defendant No.1 claims that the rights in the entire films were assigned to them. Disputes arose between the plaintiff and defendant No.2, who allegedly exploited the plaintiff’s works even after the expiration of a license agreement. However, the court found that the plaintiff did not provide all the relevant documents, particularly the link documents for nine of the suit films. Regarding the remaining 15 suit films, the court examined the interpretation of the assignment deeds executed in favour of the defendant and acknowledged that these assignment deeds need to be read in their entirety and with commercial common sense and that they have to be read as a whole. Ultimately concluding that the plaintiff did not made a strong prima facie case for copyright in the nine suit films due to the absence of link documents and for the remaining 15 suit films, further examination would be required to determine the interpretation of the assignment deeds.

Read the order here.

Bombay High Court: Two New Petitions Filed against IT Rules Amendment

The petitions, filed by the Editors Guild of India and the Association of Indian Magazines, were heard by a division bench of Justices G. S. Patel and Neela Gokhale. The court directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to provide its response. Consequently, the Central government has decided to postpone the formation of a fact-checking body empowered to identify and tag false online news related to government activities until July 10. The next hearing for all the petitions, including one filed by comedian Kunal Kamra, is scheduled for July 6. The petitions argue that the amendments violate Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, as well as Articles 14 and 19(1)(a)(g) of the Constitution, which pertain to the right to equality and freedom of profession, occupation, trade, or business.

Government Informs Bombay High Court: Websites Hosting ‘False’ or ‘Misleading’ Content Despite Being Flagged Will Have to Defend Their Decision in Court

According to an affidavit submitted by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to the Bombay High Court, websites hosting information flagged as ‘false’ or ‘misleading’ by the Government’s Fact Checking Unit (FCU) will have to be prepared to justify their decision in court if action is taken. The affidavit stated that the immunity from liability granted to websites under Section 79 of the IT Act would not apply if they disregarded the FCU’s flags. 

Bombay High Court Grants Interim Relief to Serum Institute of India, Restrains Defendants from Making Defamatory Posts

The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim relief to Serum Institute of India (SII) in its defamation against one Yohan Tengra, his organisation Anarchy for Freedom India, and one Ambar Koiri and his organisation Awaken India Movement – from publishing any content against SII or its employees.

Justice R. I. Chagla pronounced the verdict and held that “the contents are in fact per se defamatory in that there is no justification made out by the defendants in support of the statements made.”

Calcutta High Court Dismisses PIL Accusing Invasion of Privacy via Pegasus and Other Software

The Calcutta High Court has rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Sujit Kumar Dutta which alleged the use of gadgets and spyware like Pegasus to invade the privacy of civil society. The division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya found the prayers made by the petitioner to be vague and declined to entertain the petition but granted the petitioner the liberty to approach appropriate authorities if their individual privacy is invaded.

Marvel Agrees to Drop Lawsuits Against Artists Attempting to Reclaim Copyrights in Superheroes Including Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel

Disney’s Marvel has reached a settlement in its copyright disputes with four artists who co-created superheroes such as Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel. According to federal court filings, Marvel will drop its lawsuits against Larry Lieber and the estates of Don Heck, Gene Colan, and Don Rico with prejudice, preventing them from being refiled. Marvel had argued that the artists’ works were made for hire, which prevented them from being able to recapture the copyrights.

Dua Lipa Avoids Trouble as Los Angeles Federal Court Drops Infringement Lawsuit Against ‘Levitating’

Dua Lipa along with songwriters Clarence Coffee Jr., Sarah Hudson, and Stephen Kozmeniuk, as well as Warner Records, achieved a significant victory as a federal court in Los Angeles dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against them. The lawsuit claimed that Lipa’s hit song “Levitating” had copied elements from a 2017 track by Artikal Sound System. U.S. District Judge Sunshine Sykes granted Lipa’s motion to dismiss, citing a lack of evidence regarding access to the Artikal Sound System song. However, Artikal Sound System has the option to file a new amended complaint by June 16. Although this is a temporary win for Lipa, she still faces another copyright infringement lawsuit related to “Levitating” from other songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer.

Delhi High Court Rules Against Times Group in Trademark Dispute

In a lawsuit filed by the Times Group against E! Entertainment Television, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the defendant. The Times Group claimed that E!’s use of “E” or “E!” with “NOW” and “E NEWS NOW” marks was identical or deceptively similar to their own registrations. However, the court stated that the Times Group could not claim exclusive rights over the word “NOW” as it is commonly used by multiple entities as a prefix or suffix. The court also considered that E! had been using similar marks before the Times Group’s registrations and took into account the Times Group’s own disclaimers. Consequently, the Court held that Times Group could not seek an injunction against the Defendant’s marks.