Hindu Sena files writ petition against ‘Adipurush’ film before Delhi HC to cancel certification

The Hindu Sena, led by its national president Vishnu Gupta, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on June 16 in the Delhi High Court against the film ‘Adipurush’.

In the writ petition filed in Delhi HC, Gupta stated, “This is a writ petition in the shape of public interest litigation under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for issuance of an appropriate writ in the nature of direction to the respondents for removal of objectionable scenes depicting religious leaders /characters/figures in bad taste and issues a writ of mandamus to the respondents directing them to not certify the feature film Adipurush for public exhibition and pass such other or further order as this Hon’ble court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.”

The petition alleges that the film has hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community by inaccurately and inappropriately portraying religious leaders, characters, and figures. It argues that the depiction of Ravana, Lord Ram, Mata Sita, and Hanuman in the film is contrary to their portrayal as described in the Ramayana authored by writers such as Maharishi Valmiki and Saint Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas.

The petitioner claims to have previously submitted a representation on October 4, 2022, to the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding the matter. However, no response has been received to date.

Further, on June 17, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi demanded an apology from the makers of ‘Adipurush’ for allegedly using “pedestrian dialogues” in the film. Coming down heavily on the makers, Ms Chaturvedi tweeted that the dialogues were disrespectful to the characters of the Hindu epic Ramayana and the dialogue writer of the film, as well as the director, should apologise to the nation

Bombay High Court denies Trishul Media’s Urgent plea for urgent relief for credits in ‘Adipurush’

The Bombay High Court declined to provide urgent relief to Trishul Media Entertainment (“Trishul”), a VFX studio claiming credits in the film ‘Adipurush’. Trishul claimed it had entered into VFX studio agreements with Retrophiles Private Limited (“Retrophiles”), the film’s Producer. Through it’s application, Trishul also sought payment of dues amounting to INR 4,77,31,321, including damages incurred by Trishul.  Trishul alleged that Retrophiles  refused to give Trishul any credits at meetings about paying dues and expressed concerns in it’s application that the production company had been established solely for the film and might likely dissolve after its release and therefore it fears  that once the movie comes out, it won’t be able to protect its rights or get paid for its work.

Counsels appearing for the Producer countered the claims by stating that Trishul had already received credit for character assets and submitted a photograph as evidence. The Court was informed that Super Cassettes Pvt Ltd/T-Series, a co-producer, had not been included as a party to the lawsuit, although it was a necessary party and the counsel appearing for T-Series, argued that without its involvement, the court could not entertain the plea for urgent relief to halt the film’s release.

The court accepted the evidence and acknowledged that the issue of credits had been addressed and then granted Retrophiles time to file their responses with respect to  payment of dues and scheduled the next hearing for July 17, 2023.

Read order here.

Bombay High Court Refused To Stay Release Of ‘I Love You’ Movie in copyright infringement case filed by Lions Gate India

The Bombay High Court rejected to halt the release of the Bollywood movie ‘I Love You’ in response to a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Lions Gate India LLP (“LGIL”) against the film’s producers. LGIL alleged that that Athena E&M LLP, the producers of ‘I Love You,’ had infringed their exclusive right to remake the American film ‘P2’. American company, Summit Entertainment had the exclusive copyrights of P2 and LGIL, which had obtained the Hindi remake rights from Summit Entertainment.

It has been contended by the Petitioner that they have learnt about the film’s release only on June 5, 2023 and has immediately approached the High Court seeking an injunction against Athena and Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd (Jio Cinema), the platform planning to release the film and claiming damages of INR 10 crores as compensation.

Justice RI Chagla directed responses from the defendants regarding interim relief and scheduled the next hearing for June 28, 2023. In the meantime, the court denied the plea to stay the film’s release. However, the Defendants shall not claim any equity in the event the Court considers it appropriate to grant any relief to the Plaintiff.

Read order here.

Allahabad High Court restrains broadcast of Al Jazeera documentary film ‘India…Who lit the Fuse?’ for fear of ‘Evil Consequences’

The Allahabad high court on June 14, 2023 restrained Al Jazeera from telecasting, broadcasting or releasing the news documentary “India… Who lit the Fuse?” in India until the issues raised in a petition “are adjudicated” after notice to the Doha-based broadcaster. The Arabic edition of the Al Jazeera documentary on the treatment and status of Muslim minorities in India has been tweeted by the news channel.

The petition filed by one Sudhir Kumar, who claims to be “a public-spirited person and a social activist”, claims that as per the print and social media reports, the above-mentioned film portrays the Muslim minority of India living under fear and it also presents a disruptive and wrong narrative creating a sense of public hatred, which according to him is far from reality. The petitioner claims that the film “negatively portrays” the political functionaries of the Indian state and projects them as acting detrimental to the interest of minorities and likely to create hatred amongst different religious denominations and thereby destroy the secular fabric of the Indian State. The Film also has the potential to create social unrest and disturb public order, decency and morality. Averments were also made in the PIL Al Jazeera is only a news organisation but it has “exceeded its ambit” so as to broadcast films.

Having perused the averments contained in the plea, the Court said “We are conscious of the fact that the freedom of speech and expression as also the right of broadcast is a fundamental right but it remains subject to the reasonable restrictions imposed by Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.”

Ultimately, taking into account the gravity of the allegations made in the plea, the Court stayed the release of the film until the case is finally decided. The court further directed the Union government and the authorities constituted under it “to take appropriate measures warranted in law to ensure that the film is not allowed to be telecast/broadcast unless its contents are examined by the authorities, duly constituted in law for the purpose, and necessary certification/authorisation is obtained from the competent authority.”

Taking note, that Al Jazeera was not represented in court and that the film was not available for perusal, the court directed the petitioner to “take steps within 48 hours to serve” Al Jazeera by “registered/speed post as well as by dasti” and fixed July 06, 2023 as the next date of hearing.

The order can be accessed here.

Jaswant Singh Khalra Biopic: Producers of the movie Move Bombay High Court For Censor Clearance

The biopic based on the life of prominent human rights activist, Jaswant Singh Khalra has been subjected to delays owing to the clearance for the censor certificate. The producers of the film (Unilazer Ventures Pvt. Ltd (RSVP)) have approached the Bombay High Court seeking an intervention of high court against the decision of the Central Board of Film Certification that has asked the makers to make 21 modifications to the film. The plea filed by the petitioner states that they had approached the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in December 2022 for certification of their movie. The film was first viewed by the Examining Committee of the CBFC but was later referred to the Revising Committee. Despite being viewed twice by the Revising Committee, no decision regarding certification was given to the petitioner even after two months.

The plea argues that these modifications unreasonably restrict the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. The movie makers also claim that the decision requiring cuts in the film as a prerequisite for public exhibition is in violation of Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act and its guidelines.

Furthermore, the plea alleges that the CBFC mechanically cited the guidelines as the basis for requiring modifications before granting the certificate.

KGF Song Copyright Infringement: Karnataka High Court Extends Till June 23 Stay On FIR Against Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh & Supriya Shrinate

The Karnataka High Court has extended the interim relief of stay until June 23 for Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh, and Supriya Shrinate in a FIR (First Information Report) filed by music company MRT Music. The FIR alleges copyright infringement due to the use of a song from the Kannada movie “KGF Chapter 2” in a promotional video for the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” (a political campaign). The court granted the extension after a petition was filed by Gandhi and others. The court also mentioned that no further adjournments would be granted on the next hearing date. MRT Music has also filed a civil suit, leading a trial court to order the blocking of Congress party and Bharat Jodo Yatra’s social media handles. However, the High Court lifted this order after the Congress party appealed and agreed to take down the disputed videos. The FIR alleges offenses under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Copyright Act, and Information Technology Act. The next hearing in this matter is scheduled for June 23.

Twitter sued for $250 million by music publishers over copyright infringement

A group of 17 music publishers including Sony Music Group and Universal has sued Twitter for more than $250 million in damages on Wednesday, alleging that the social media platform “breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators.” The lawsuit alleges that for years, Twitter has allowed users of its platform to share copyrighted songs without a license unlike most of its competitors including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

Twitter’s alleged permissiveness around users sharing copyrighted songs, combined with the social network’s promotion of tweets with copyrighted music, has unlawfully helped fuel the company’s growth, according to the National Music Publishers’ Association, whose members include Universal, Sony and Warner Music Group.

As per reports, the complaint cites more than 1,700 songs whose copyright Twitter has alle’gedly infringed, including hits such as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” featuring Bruno Mars asking the court to fine Twitter up to $150,000 for each violation.

It pointed to specific tweets in which music has been used without permission, including a post about Rihanna’s song “Umbrella” that included what the suit said is two minutes of the song’s music video. The post had 221,000 views and 15,000 likes, the suit said, but not the permission of the song’s publishers. According to the suit, the National Music Publishers’ Association notified Twitter of about 300,000 tweets with infringing music since December 2021. The company routinely delayed or failed to act on those notices, the suit said.

Read more here.