Delhi High Court says Humans of Bombay, PoI cannot use each other’s copyrighted material, but no copyright over ideas
In the case of Humans of Bombay Stories Private Limited vs POI Social Media Private Limited, Justice Prathiba M Singh of the Delhi High Court ruled that storytelling platforms Humans of Bombay and People of India cannot use each other’s copyrighted work.
The lawsuit, seeking an injunction against copyright infringement, was filed by Humans of Bombay against its competitor People of India. Humans of Bombay accused its rival of copying their unique storytelling format and publishing identical content, alleging the use of images and videos without consent. People of India reverted by stating that Humans of Bombay had copied content and the overall story telling concept from another US-based platform called Humans of New York (HONY), with the founder of the latter, Brandon Stanton, confirming this on Twitter.
While decreeing the suit, the Court held on the settled legal position of idea expression dichotomy. It was also observed that there cannot be any monopoly in running a story telling platform and every such platform which is found aplenty in today’s social media age ought to adopt their own creative expression to communicate and express the stories of the public.
Delhi High Court Refuses To Injunct TV Commercial Of Puro Pink Salt In Tata’s Commercial Disparagement Suit
It all started when Puro Wellness released an advertisement for marketing their Himalayan Pink salt featuring the eminent South Indian actress, Keerthy Suresh. This led to Tata Sons Private Limited filing a disparaging advertisement case in the Delhi High Court. It is pertinent to note that there was no mention or display of Tata Salt or products in the advertisement released by Puro Wellness. However, a container of white salt was displayed claiming that Himalayan Pink salt has far reaching health benefits as compared to normal household white table salt.
In the case of Tata Sons Private Limited vs Puro Wellness Private Limited, Justice C Hari Shankar refused to injunct circulation of a TV commercial aired by Puro about its pink colour rock salt in a suit filed by Tata alleging commercial disparagement of its white salt. It was held that Tata failed to make out any prima facie case and it was a far-reaching assumption by Tata to infer that the white salt shown was meant to be hinted at Tata white salt products. The fact that even Tata advertises its Himalayan Pink Salt by claiming it to be natural, free of chemicals and additives as a healthy alternative to common salt was observed by the Court.
Further, the Court analyzed a catena of past instances of commercial disparagement like Colgate vs HUL and Reckitt v. Wipro, to observe that, “Applying the principles culled out in the aforenoted decisions, it cannot be said that the Puro’s impugned commercial disparages white salt even generically, much less can it be said that it disparages Tata’s White Salt particularly. Though the overall look and feel of the advertisement of the commercial is what matters, that look and feel has to be assessed from the point of view of a consumer who is conscious of what the commercial says and depicts. The mind of the consumer is expected to take in everything that is contained in the commercial, even if it is not on a frame-by-frame basis. The effect of the commercial cannot be examined from the point of view of a consumer whose mind works in fast forward mode.”
Read order here.
Government of India may ask Social Media companies on the issue of curbing access to distribution of pornography, child sexual abuse material available on the apps
In a positive move, the Government of India is calling out disclosures on steps taken by social media companies like YouTube, Telegram and X (formerly, Twitter) to curb pornographic and child sexual abuse material on their platforms. On 6 October 2023, the Government through Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) issued notices to the social media platforms to block such content permanently.
In the notice, MeiTY suggested the companies to use tech-based solutions including automated tools based on artificial intelligence that can identify and block such content permanently. A non-compliance to the notice would result into strict action wherein the companies could lose the safe harbour provision that they are envisaged under the Information Technology Rules of 2021.
In reply to the Government notice, YouTube and Telegram reiterated have said they had a “zero tolerance” policy for pornographic and child sexual abuse content on their platforms. Furthermore, YouTube cited some analytical figures stating that in Q2 of 2023, they have gone ahead to remove over 94,000 channels and over 2.5 million videos for violating their child safety policies.
Gujarat High Court to watch Haryanvi Song “Court me Goli” to decide whether it targets judiciary
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court, Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha P. Mayee said that it will watch the music video in question “Court me Goli” to decide whether the same is against the integrity of the Indian Judiciary.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea was moved by Umakant Rajaram Chauhan seeking a stay on the displaying of the song on all platforms. The song in question was released in December 2022 by Vats Records label. The Petitioner contended that the video shows a criminal saying that he would shoot people in the full courtroom view in the presence of the Judge making him sweat. It was further submitted that such incidents (shooting in courtrooms) have happened in various parts of the country.
When the judges asked for the script of the song, advocate S Sharma pointed out a line in the lyrics: “Bhari court mein goli maarenge meri jaan mkha judge ke bhi aavenge pasine dekhiye”. This translates to “I will shoot in the presence of a full court, my beloved, and you will see even the judge sweat.” The video shows an enactment of the same description. The matter is listed next on October 19, 2023. It would be intriguing to know the decision in the matter.
Supreme Court disposes cases against Adipurush filmmakers in different High Courts
The Supreme Court through a Division bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia closed proceedings in different High Courts against makers of Hindi film Adipurush, which was based on the Hindu epic Ramayana and faced allegations of hurting religious sentiments. The Court proceeded to close the cases after observing that the film was released after due certification, “In view of our order passed earlier on the same feature film, we are of the view that all the proceedings against it before different courts are a futile exercise. Thus, we find it fit to close such proceedings in the subject matter in issue. The film was released with certification. This should put a closure to the matters,”
Impugned petitions are pending in the High Courts of Rajasthan, Punjab & Haryana and Allahabad seeking to ban the movie and quash the Central Board of Film Certification granted to it for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Hindus and devotees of various deities depicted in the movie by “destroying their fundamental values and characters” and modifying the ‘basic structure’ of Valmiki Ramayana.
Hearing a transfer petition filed by the producer of the film seeking to transfer to the Top Court the cases from different High Courts, the Court ordered to put a closure to all such pending proceedings. The Court in no uncertain terms opined that “All these matters must closed now”.
Kerala High Court discusses the difference between a professional movie review and an opinion of the same
A recent intervention by the Kerala High Court has been a sigh of relief for the Indian film industry. The Court opined on the case of vloggers who post negative movie reviews with vested interests. The High Court’s directive to the police to investigate and take action against vloggers posting derogatory and calculated movie reviews has brought some respite.
Therefore, The Kerala High Court sought inputs from the State Police Chief (SPC) on how individuals associated with a movie could file complaints against activities aimed towards denigrating and tarnishing a movie, so as to trigger a proper investigation. The Court issued the above direction while considering the plea filed by the director of ‘Aromalinte Adyathe Pranayam’, seeking a gag order to ensure that social media influencers and film reviewing vloggers do not publish any reviews of the film for at least 7 days following its release.
Terming movies as intellectual properties involving the ‘reputations, sweat and blood, and aspirations’ of several people associated with it, Justice Devan Ramachandran cited:
“While the right of free speech is inherent and constitutionally guaranteed, it certainly has to be tempered with reason and restraint, as are constitutionally required under Article 19(2). A fair criticism of an intellectual property, be that a movie or otherwise, and a pernicious attempt to blackmail, and extort, are two different aspects, which have to be clearly seen through and dealt with distinctly. Just as an attack on a property is a criminal offence, a pestilential review deliberately done with the afore intent is no less, because eventually, both are attacks on tangible properties”.
The Petitioner put forth that in the case of rise of digital media and the ease of smartphone access catered to individuals proclaiming themselves as film reviewers and critics without adhering to any ethical standards or accountability, and thereby engaging in unwarranted negative criticism of films, on the same day of release even without viewing the film. Such activities were also referred to as “clickbait” by the Petitioner – something which is displayed in a way with lies so as to attract audience. It was requested by the Petitioner that review bombing should not destroy the film industry.
Google to defend generative AI users from copyright claims
Joining the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and other tech companies, Google issued a statement in support of users of generative artificial-intelligence systems in its Google Cloud and Workspace platforms if they are accused of intellectual property violations. The indemnity does not apply if users intentionally create or use generated output to infringe the rights of others. If the users of generative AI are accused of intellectual property breaches, Google will fund the legal defence. Google’s strategy aims to cover both types of claims, making it the only business in the sector to provide such detailed indemnification.
Copyright infringement in the use of generative AI is a controversial topic that needs statutory legal framework. Concerns about the same have come up due to technology businesses that bring together generative AI into their products. AI developers have maintained that their use of training data which is frequently obtained from the internet, is permitted by the US Copyright laws as “fair use”.
Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and Indian Singers and Musicians Rights Association (ISAMRA) issue Applications to the Copyright Office for registering as a Copyright Society
On 4th and 6th October respectively, Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and Indian Singers and Musicians Rights Association (ISAMRA) issued Applications to the Copyright Office for registering as a Copyright Society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in respect of Sound Recording Works. The Public Notice issued by the Copyright Office invites objections and comments from the public on the Applications. Applications can be accessed here and here.
In light of multiple litigations brought about by PPL in the recent past, it will be intriguing to understand the consequence of this move.
Copyright Holder’s Suit Against Infringement Bars Infringer From Filing Suit U/S 60 Copyright Act
The Karnataka High Court via Justice V Srishananda has said that a suit filed under Section 60 of the Copyright is not maintainable if a suit seeking action is filed by the copyright holder for infringement against the alleged offender.
It was clarified by the Courr that proviso to Section 60 of the Copyright Act was meant to prevent an alleged infringer from filing a suit when the owner of the copyright had previously filed a suit under Section 55. In this case, the order of events favoured the defendants, as they had filed their suit after the plaintiff had filed its suit.
The appeal was filed challenging an order passed by the trial court whereby its suit was rejected on allowing the application filed by M/s Indian Performing Rights Society Ltd. The plaint was filed under Section 60 of the Copyright Act r/w Section 26 and Order VII Rule 1 of CPC seeking a declaration that the alleged infringement of copyrights, as threatened by the defendants, was baseless and directed at extortion. They also prayed for a permanent injunction against further threats from the defendants.
The main issue in this case was whether the suit filed by the defendants in the Delhi High Court would bar the continuation of the suit filed by the plaintiff in Bengaluru. The plaintiff contended that the suit filed by the defendants was merely an empty threat directed at extorting money and should not restrict their suit in Bengaluru. They referred to a decision in Dhiraj Dharamdas Dewani vs. M/s Sonal Info Systems P. Ltd to support their argument.
The Court emphasized the significance of the proviso to Section 60 which states that an action under Section 60 won’t apply if the person making threats (the defendants herein) commences and prosecutes an action for infringement of the copyright claimed by them with due diligence. The Karnaraka High Court observed as follows:
“The proviso to Section 60 of the Copyright Act, 1957 would clearly indicate that the action contemplated under Section 60 shall not apply, if the person making such threats, with due diligence, commences and prosecutes an action for infringement of the copyright claimed by him.”
Gujarat High Court directs Censor Board to decide on demand for removal of ‘casteist slur’ from movie ‘Guthlee Ladoo
The Gujarat High Court directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to take a call in 24 hours about the use of an “offensive” term for the Valmiki community in the Hindi movie ‘Guthlee Ladoo’. The petitioner had filed a petition before the court seeking removal of a word from the aforesaid movie and withdrawal of its certification.
A Single Bench of Justice Vaibhavi D. Nanavati directed, “Considering the dispute-in-question, the present petition stands disposed of relegating the matter to the competent authority i.e. respondent No.1 herein to decide the same within 24 hours in exercise of powers under the provisions of Section 6 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.”
The petitioner came across the trailer of the movie “Guthlee Ladoo” on YouTube being produced/directed/written by the respondents. The CBFC granted ‘U’ certificate to the film in the name of the producer. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the words transcribed at 00.42 minutes, a conversation between a mother and son, was derogatory with respect to the Valmiki caste and that the usage of said word hurts the feelings of the people belonging to the said community. It was further submitted that the use of the said word is prohibited under the Atrocities Act.
In this case, the petitioner had approached the Court invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India as well as the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention & Atrocities) Act, 1989 challenging the hurtful use of the local name of “Valmiki” caste by using the term “Bhangi” number of times in the movie. The petitioner did not oppose the theme of the movie but, the usage of the term “Bhangi” which hurts the sentiments of the people of Valmiki caste, and the atrocious usage of the term was also against the provisions of Section 5(b) of the Cinematograph Act as well as covered under the provisions of the Atrocities Act.
Finally, the Court said that the interest of justice would be served by relegating the issue-in-question to the CBFC to consider the dispute-in-question under the provisions of Section 6 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the petition.
Bombay High Court appoints judges committee to review film ‘I Killed Bapu’ for objectionable content
A three-bench board has been delegated by the Bombay High Court to survey the film “I Killed Bapu” to check for questionable material which has the capability of truly igniting cultural disharmony.
A seat of Judges Sunil Shukre and Firdosh Pooniwalla delegated a board including Boss Judges (Retd) Amjad Sayed, Justice Abhay Thipsay and veteran actor Amol Palekar to survey the film and present their report.
“We demand the board to take a review of the film “I Killed Bapu” at the spot recommended by them and consider whether the film has any such shocking material or has any capability of truly undermining cultural disharmony and present its report likewise to this court, inside a time of about fourteen days of the see taken by board, which report will be without bias to the freedoms and conflicts of the two sides,” the request expressed.
The request was passed on an appeal by Kurla inhabitant and finance manager Mohamed Ansari. He said the film by Sarla Saraogi, spouse of Backer Ashok Saraogi is delivered exclusively to “make disharmony between two religions and is likewise an affront to the father of the Public Mahatma Gandhi by considering him liable for the parcel of India.”
Tamil Nadu theatres face scrutiny from CBFC for showing unapproved Leo trailer starring Vijay Thalapathy
It has been observed by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) that the theatres in Tamil Nadu are screening an uncertified trailer of an upcoming film called “Leo” starring South Indian actor Vijay Thalapathy. This has resulted into CBFC Board of Chennai sending legal notice to the respective theatres. The theatres were specifically instructed to disclose the identity of the party responsible for providing the uncertified trailer content for Leo. Additionally, they were granted an opportunity to present their justifications, explaining why legal actions should not be pursued against them.
The CBFC had earlier ordered 13 cuts for Vijays’s upcoming thriller and was classified with a U/A certificate by the CBFC indicating that is suitable for younger viewers but with parental guidance. Under the provisions of Section 7 in violation of Part 2 of the Cinematography Act, uncertified content cannot be screened for the public and the same is an offence.
The movie in question is slated to release on October 19, 2023.