Bombay High Court in a landmark decision rules that PPL and Novex can issue licenses without being registered copyright societies under Section 33 of the Copyright Act ( Novex VsTrade Wings Hotels Limited)

Bombay High Court has held that music rights holders like Phonographic Performance Ltd and Novex are copyright owners and can issue licenses even if they are not registered as copyright societies under Section 33 of the Copyright Act.

The court rejected the argument that the non-registration of PPL and Novex as copyright societies makes their assignment agreements illegal and their cause of action invalid. “Thus, in my view a partial assignment created as in the present case in favour of PPL and Novex i.e. to communicate sound recording to the public, to the extent of the right so created, the assignee is an ‘owner’ of the copyright in the work,” the court ruled. The court disagreed with the Madras HC’s view in Novex Communications Vs. DXC Technology Pvt. Ltd. which distinguished between granting licenses in an individual capacity and carrying on the business of licensing.

The court held that the Madras HC had overlooked the primacy of Section 30 giving the owner the right to grant interest in the copyright by way of license. Accordingly, the court held that for a limited purpose, assignees such as Novex and PPL become owners of the copyright under Sections 18 and 30 of the Copyright Act.

Read order here.

Killer Jeans makers file trademark infringement suit against Netflix for web series “Killer Soup”

Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited, the company behind the brand Killer Jeans, has initiated a legal battle against Netflix and MacGuffin Pictures LLP, challenging the use of their registered trademark ‘KILLER’ in the title of the web series “KILLER SOUP.” In a claim filed before the Bombay High Court, KKCL demands ₹10 crore for alleged trademark infringement, underscoring the protective measures companies take to safeguard their brand identities.

Koodathayi case accused files petition against Netflix’s ‘Curry & Cyanide’
MS Mathew, the second accused in the high-profile Koodathayi serial killings, has filed a legal petition against Netflix’s docuseries ‘Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case’. The petition accuses the series of broadcasting misleading information about the case, which is still under judicial consideration. Mathew’s challenge foregrounds the debate on the media’s influence over ongoing legal proceedings. The court is set to deliberate on this petition along with the bail pleas of Jolly Joseph and others on January 29. This case continues to attract media attention as it unfolds.

Rohingya refugees move Delhi High Court against Facebook to stop hateful content before 2024 elections

Two Rohingya refugees have filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Delhi High Court seeking directions to social networking platform Facebook (now Meta) to stop hateful and inflammatory content against the Rohingya community.

Directions have been sought to Facebook to halt the use of virality and ranking algorithms which encourage hate speech and violence against minority communities.

Telangana HC Cancels Vyooham’s Censor Certificate

The Telangana High Court has annulled the censor certificate of Ram Gopal Varma’s film “Vyooham,” a movie alleged to be propagating YCP’s agenda and discrediting political figures like Chandra Babu, Lokesh, and Pawan Kalyan. The action follows a complaint by Nara Lokesh, who claimed the film aimed to influence the election outcome. The court has ordered the censor board to reassess the film and report back within three weeks. This decision effectively postpones the film’s release, disregarding the financial loss argument from the film’s producers. The proactive measures taken by Nara Lokesh seem to be effective in halting the film’s potential impact on the upcoming elections.

Trade Dress Of ‘London Pride’ Virtually Same As That Of ‘Imperial Blue’, Says Supreme Court In Whiskey Brand Dispute

The Supreme Court on January 22 heard a trademark dispute involving the whiskey brands “Blenders’ Pride”, “Imperial Blue” and “London Pride”. The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra was hearing a special leave petition filed by Pernod Ricard India Pvt Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of an international liquor manufacturer, challenging the refusal of the Madhya Pradesh High Court of whiskey brands “Blender’s Pride”, “Imperial Blue” etc.

Cine1 and T-Series settle dispute regarding Animal movie paving way for film’s OTT release

The Delhi High Court was informed on January 22, 2024 that Cine1 Private Limited and Super Cassettes Industries Private Limited (T-Series) have settled their disputes regarding alleged violation of contractual obligations related to ‘Animal’ movie. The counsel appearing for Cine1 and T-Series told the Court today that settlement agreement has been signed and the same will be brought on record as well.

ISAMRA signs a Bilateral Agreement with PPL UK for performance royalties from & to India; 

The Indian Singers’ and Musicians’ Rights Association (ISAMRA) (formerly known as ISRA) has signed a bilateral agreement with PPL UK to collect royalties on behalf of their performer members in India and vice versa where PPL UK (being the organisation that licenses the use of recorded music for public performance and broadcast in the UK) will collect royalties on behalf of the ISAMRA performer members in the territory of UK.

ISAMRA’S new partnership with PPL UK means that ISAMRA’S members will now start to receive royalties from PPL UK for the UK Territory. Under the Bilateral Agreement, UK performers will now start receiving payments for the use of their recorded music in India through PPL UK

In 2023, PPL UK allocated revenue to over 450 performers for the use of their music resulting from the bilateral agreement, and this number is expected to increase substantially this year.

Dhanush’s Captain Miller in plagiarism row: Vela Ramamurthy says the film is blatant copy of his novel Pattathu Yaanai

Captain Miller, directed by Arun Matheswaran and featuring Dhanush, has courted a new controversy as Tamil writer-actor Vela Ramamurthy has accused the makers of plagiarism. The writer, known for his Tamil novels and poems, claimed that the story of Captain Miller is a blatant copy of his novel titled Pattathu Yaanai. He criticized the alleged adaptation of his novel without seeking proper authorization.

Netflix and other broadcasters faced contempt proceedings in Karnataka HC for incorporating a 22-second clip from ‘Wild Karnataka’ into their series ‘Life in Colour with David Attenborough’

The HC had previously banned the documentary’s broadcast. The Supreme Court, however, suggested the OTT platform and others could contribute to the Tiger Conservation Fund instead, noting the HC had more pressing matters than pursuing contempt for such a brief inclusion.

In its plea before the Supreme Court through Pritha Srikumar Iyer, the OTT platform pleaded that it had acted with alacrity and removed the contentious 22-second footage from the docuseries. Hence, there is no willful disobedience of the HC order, it said challenging the HC decision to make it an accused in the contempt of court trial proceedings.

Before a bench of CJI D Y Chandrachud, and Justices J B Pardiwala and Satish Sharma, counsel Balaji Srinivasan, appearing for the PIL petitioners in the HC, said that the accused in contempt case have paid nothing to the Tiger Conservation Fund as promised by them apart from the dues to the state exchequer for filing the wildlife in Karnataka.

The CJI-led bench said that it would resolve the issue and asked Netflix and other accused to be prepared to contribute to the tiger conservation fund. “The HC has better things to do than draw contempt proceedings in such matters,” the CJI said.

Surat Shocker: Diamond Industry Hit by Pioneering Copyright Case, Two Engineers Arrested

Surat’s diamond industry is experiencing a legal shake-up with its first copyright infringement case, leading to the arrest of two former engineers from Lexus-Octonus. They are charged with illegally replicating and selling the company’s diamond scanning software, a breach that has reportedly cost the company over ₹15 crore. Despite previous affidavits to stop, the accused allegedly continued their activities, forcing the company to take legal action. The incident spotlights the importance of intellectual property rights in the diamond industry.

OTT industry seeks help over anti-tobacco warning regulations

The video over-the-top (OTT) sector, grappling with compliance challenges for anti-tobacco warning regulations, has sought help from the information and broadcasting ministry and health ministry to formulate workable solutions, as the enforcement of current rules may disrupt content viewing and impose extra costs on platforms.

As per reports, OTT companies are implementing the rules partially, hoping the health ministry will find a solution to the current impasse.

The government has directed OTT platforms to strictly adhere to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2023, and has warned of action against non-complying platforms.

The amendment rules, which were issued in May last year and came into effect in September, require OTT platforms such as Disney+ Hotstar, Jio Cinema, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to display anti-tobacco health spots of 30 seconds, audio-visual disclaimers of 20 seconds and prominent static warnings during the programme.

“Trademark Tangle: High Court Sides with Deepika Padukone’s Brand Over ‘Lotus Splash'”

Delhi High Court has ruled in favor of Deepika Padukone’s self-care brand in a trademark dispute against Lotus Herbal. The court declined the injunction request, noting that Padukone’s company’s use of ‘Lotus Splash’ for their facewash signifies its lotus ingredient, aligning with Section 30(2)(a) of The Trade Marks Act. This section allows using a registered trademark to describe the product’s characteristics. The ruling emphasized the distinct branding and packaging, which mitigates confusion among consumers, negating infringement or passing-off claims.

Read order here.

Zee-Sony merger saga ends

After two years and many twists and turns, Sony Group Corp called off the $10 billion merger with Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) on January 22, 2024.

As per reports, Sony Group Corporation has initiated a Singapore arbitration case against Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), alleging breaches of their failed merger agreement.

Zee Entertainment on January 24, said it has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) against Sony’s decision to call off the proposed merger. Besides, it has also initiated legal action to contest Sony’s claims of $90 million (around ₹748.5 crore) as a termination fee, for which the Japanese firm has moved the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).