Government notifies the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules with an aim to improve film certification

The Central government has officially notified the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024, aimed at enhancing the process of certifying films for public exhibition. The Ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) stated that they had previously engaged in extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including filmmakers, cinema owners, disability rights organizations, non-governmental organizations, film industry associations, the general public, and other relevant parties. This inclusive approach aimed to gather diverse perspectives and ensure comprehensive consideration of all relevant factors.

The new rules introduce age-based categories for film certification, which includes subdividing the existing UA category into three age groups: seven years (UA 7+), 13 years (UA 13+), and 16 years (UA 16+), instead of the previous 12 years. These age-based classifications are intended as recommendations, allowing parents or guardians to make informed decisions regarding their children’s exposure to such films. The implementation of this system aims to ensure that young viewers are exposed to content appropriate for their age, striking a balance between safeguarding vulnerable audiences, such as children, and upholding principles of freedom of expression and consumer choice.

Read here.

Central Government bans 18 OTT apps for displaying vulgar and obscene content

Under the central government, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued a ban on 18 OTT platforms, including Uncut Adda, Dreams Films, and Prime Play. This action was taken due to these platforms hosting content deemed as ‘obscene and vulgar,’ and even containing pornographic material, despite prior warnings. Additionally, 19 websites, 10 apps, and 57 social media accounts associated with these OTT platforms have been blocked from public access in India. The OTT platforms were banned due to prima facie violations of Sections 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act, Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The Center expressed concerns regarding the content available on these platforms, citing it as “obscene, vulgar,” and depicting women in a derogatory manner. This content included sexual innuendos and prolonged segments featuring pornographic and sexually explicit scenes that lacked any meaningful thematic or societal relevance.

CCI terms Google’s User Choice Billing system as unfair

In the challenge posed by tech companies against Google’s Play Store Billing policy regarding in-app purchases and paid apps, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has prima facie determined a violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act. Consequently, the CCI has directed an investigation by the Director General under Section 26(1) of the Act. The order, issued by CCI Chairperson Ravneet Kaur along with Members Anil Agrawal, Sweta Kakkad, and Deepak Anurag, states: “the Commission is of the prima facie view that Google has violated the provisions of Section 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), and 4(2)(c) of the Act, as elaborated supra, which warrants detailed investigation.”

The Informants in this case, which include People Interactive India Private Limited (the operator of Shaadi.com and Sangam.com), Mebigo Labs Private Limited (the owner of Kuku FM), and the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation & Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (operators or managers of websites and applications related to television and digital media industries), have lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI). Their grievance concerns Google’s updated payment policy regarding its proprietary app store, specifically the Google Play Store. The Informants allege that Google is leveraging its dominant position in the relevant market, thereby contravening Section 4 of the Act. According to the Informants, Google was providing users with an illusory choice through the Users Choice Billing (UCB) system, allowing them to opt for an alternative billing option alongside Google Play’s billing system. Against this backdrop, the Informants requested an inquiry into Google’s conduct among other prayers.

Ultimately, the Commission concluded with prima facie finding that Google’s conduct amounted to the imposition of unfair prices, constraining the growth of the app market, and denying or obstructing market access to developers.

Read order here

MEITY replaces the contentious AI advisory, drops requirement of government’s permission

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) on March 15 withdrew a contentious ‘advisory’ that required Artificial Intelligence (AI) firms to obtain government permission to make their products available to users online in India. A revised advisory withdrawing the original March 1 missive, in “supersession” of the latter, also withdrew the requirement of an action taken report from tech firms that was due on March 15.

The Advisory advises the intermediaries that use Artificial Intelligence model(s) /LLM/Generative Al, software(s) or algorithm(s) on or through its computer resource to ensure compliance with Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules and other laws in force. Further to ensure that they do not permit any bias or discrimination or threaten the integrity of the electoral process. Under-tested/unreliable Artificial Intelligence foundational model(s)/ LLM/Generative Al, software(s} or algorithm(s) or further development on such models should be made available to users in India only after appropriately labeling the possible inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated. Further, “consent popup” or equivalent mechanisms may be used to explicitly inform the users about the possible inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated.

The Advisory further states that where any intermediary through its software or any other computer resource permits or facilitates synthetic creation, generation or modification of a text, audio, visual or audio­ visual information, in such a manner that such information may be used potentially as misinformation or deepfake, it is advised that such information created, generated, or modified through its software or any other computer resource is labeled or embedded with permanent unique metadata or identifier, in a manner that such label, metadata or identifier can be used to identify that such information has been created, generated or modified using the computer resource of the intermediary. Further, in case any changes are made by a user, the metadata should be so configured to enable identification of such user or computer resource that has effected such change.

The revised advisory can be accessed here.

Expert Advisor appointed by Kerala High Court proposes for guidelines on movie reviews by influencers and bloggers

The Kerala High Court has appointed Advocate Syam Padman as an Amicus Curiae to suggest on the influencers indulged in posting paid negative reviews which are targeted towards tarnishing the overall hype of the film. It has been noticed that influencers are targeted to create fake profiles on reviewing platforms such as BookMyShow, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes. Such platforms consist of reviews and opinions from the general public.

The report submitted by the amicus curiae suggested that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should be tasked with drafting the guidelines, including a 48-hour waiting period for reviews and letting constructive criticism be a part of a healthy and genuine discussion.

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CBFC replaces several dialogues in the upcoming film, The Crew’s trailer

The CBFC has directed for replacement of several dialogues which use harsh language in the upcoming film, The Crew featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Tabu and Kriti Sanon in the lead roles. In the trailer, we see Tabu’s character using explicit language several times, but these instances have been modified for the film’s theatrical release. Tabu, portraying an air hostess, is observed in the trailer uttering “Baith ch***ye” in one sequence. In the released trailer, this dialogue has been altered, with ‘ch***ye’ being switched out for ‘bhootiye.’ In a similar vein, a different scene that originally included her saying ‘har***zaade’ has been edited to ‘ameerzaade,’ and ‘har***iyon’ has been replaced with ‘kameeno.’

Dish TV cannot claim monopoly over the word ‘DISH’ under the Trade Marks Act

In the case of Prasar Bharti vs Dish TV India Limited, the Delhi High Court ruled that an exclusive right on use of the word ‘Dish’ cannot be granted to Dish TV. The division bench of the Delhi High Court held that a part of the trademark DISH TV is certainly an essential feature of its trademark but the same would not entitle Dish TV to establish a monopoly over the use of the generic word ‘Dish’.

This case arises after Prasar Bharti channel was restrained by an order of the Single Judge restraining them from adopting the trademark ‘DD Free Dish’.

Finally, the division bench set aside the single judge’s order after a comparison of the two marks.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court orders against infringement of Dolma Tsering’s trademark and use of her personal name by a man from Uttar Pradesh

The Delhi High Court has cancelled “Dolma” trademark used by an Uttar Pradesh resident, Mohd Akram Khan after Dolma Tsering, the owner of South Delhi’s popular “Dolma Aunty Momos” filed a petition against such unauthorized use of her personal name in association with a similar food service. Dolma Aunty Momos is a food stall started in 1994 and gained popularity over time.

Justice Anish Dayal in the case held that use of the word “Dolma” by the infringer indicated that he wanted to deceive the public to portray an association with Dolma Tsering’s momos outlet. Therefore, the Court ordered for cancellation and removal of Mohd Akram’s mark from the Trade Marks Register in light of the same.

Read order here.

The Caravan, a journal on politics files petition against Government order on story against the Indian army

A writ petition was filed by Delhi Press Patra Prakashan for The Caravan before the Delhi High Court seeking to quash orders of the Union Government through Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to remove a particular article on allegations of torture and murder against Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Caravan, in its petition, emphasized that the directive from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting infringed upon the fundamental right to free speech and expression, as well as the freedom of the press as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, along with the right to equality under Article 14.

The process followed by the ministry was also criticized for contravening the principles of natural justice, with The Caravan noting that it was not furnished with a copy of the complaint or the specific allegations contained therein.

Additionally, The Caravan highlighted that the contested order failed to demonstrate any factual inaccuracies or errors in the article in question, but rather mandated its removal based on what was described as a “subjective misinterpretation.” Moreover, it underscored that the order lacked substantiated reasoning and failed to establish how its assertion that the piece had adverse effects on communal harmony, national sovereignty and integrity, state security, or public order was justified.

The Delhi High Court has issued notice on the said plea.

Read order here.

Telangana High Court refuses to halt release of Telugu film Razakar: A Silent Genocide Of Hyderabad

The Telangana High Court has rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) contesting the release of the movie “Razakar: A Silent Genocide of Hyderabad,” citing the petitioner’s failure to challenge the Certificate issued by the Central Board of Film Certification.

The bench addressed a writ petition submitted by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights, which claimed that the film, scheduled for release on March 15th, had the potential to offend religious sentiments. The petition was set for court orders based on office objections. When delivering the verdict, the bench observed that besides not disputing the exhibition certificate itself, the petitioners had not viewed the movie, thus lacking grounds to argue that it contained objectionable content.

Read order here.

World’s first major act to regulate Artificial intelligence passed by European lawmakers

The European Union’s parliament gave its approval to the world’s inaugural comprehensive set of regulatory guidelines aimed at governing the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence, which is at the forefront of technological investment.

Originating in 2021, the EU AI Act categorizes AI technologies based on their associated risks, ranging from those deemed “unacceptable” and subject to outright prohibition, to those classified as high, medium, and low hazard. The regulation is anticipated to become effective at the conclusion of the legislative session in May, following final assessments and endorsement from the European Council.

Governments are concerned about the potential impact of deepfakes, which are artificial intelligence-generated content that fabricates events such as photos and videos. There is apprehension that these deepfakes could be utilized in the run-up to a multitude of crucial global elections scheduled for this year. Legal experts characterized the act as a significant milestone in international artificial intelligence regulation, highlighting its potential to serve as a model for other nations to emulate.

Access the Act here

Supreme Court to decide whether CBFC’s advisory panel should include disabled persons to deal with films portraying disability

The Supreme Court issued a notice in response to a petition that contests the purported insensitive depiction of disabled individuals in the movie ‘Aankh Micholi,’ which was produced by Sony Pictures. In this case, the Court will examine the possible ramifications of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (Act of 2016) on the certification procedure for films featuring people with disabilities.

The bench, headed by CJI DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, noted that the current petition does not advocate for a ban or censorship of the film under scrutiny. Instead, it emphasizes the necessity of adopting a more comprehensive perspective regarding the interaction between the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 and the Cinematograph Act 1952.

The court served notice to the Union government, focusing specifically on the influence of disability representation on the statutory authority to certify films. It cited the Guidelines for Certification of Films for Public Exhibition, which underscore the importance of averting scenes depicting the abuse or mockery of individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The court sought the assistance of the Solicitor General and scheduled a subsequent hearing in three weeks for further deliberation.’

Delhi High Court issues an injunction against an individual from using the word ‘Goocle’, ‘Geogle’, and ‘Gipay’

Recently, the Delhi High Court issued an injunction against an individual in Tamil Nadu, prohibiting him from utilizing trademarks and trade names resembling ‘Google’ and ‘GPay.’ The case alleged that the individual had registered various entities under the name ‘Goocle’ and had also applied for trademark registrations resembling those of Google’s products. The Court determined that the trademarks “Gooogle,” “Goocle,” “Geogle,” and “Gipay” registered by Ram were “structurally and phonetically similar” to the ‘Google’ and ‘GPay’ trademarks, differing by only one letter.

Based on its prima facie assessment favoring Google, the Court concurred that in the event of a typographical error while entering a URL or domain name, a prospective user might be misled to the defendant’s websites. The Court additionally expressed the view that such use of the marks seems to undermine the distinctive nature of the well-known trademark Google, thus prima facie constituting infringement of the search engine’s registered trademarks.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court refused to grant interim relief to India’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) against Girdhar Industries in a case that involves an interesting juxtaposition between trademark law and cultural heritage symbols

As per the Khadi Mark Regulations of 2013, any textile sold as a Khadi product must bear a tag from the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). This tag serves as authentication that the product is made from genuine Khadi material and can only be obtained if the product is purchased from a government-approved Khadi institution. The KVIC holds multiple registrations for word and device marks featuring the term “KHADI” in English and Hindi, along with variations that include charkha logos. The Khadi brand has experienced a resurgence in modern times, with extensive marketing both domestically and internationally, leading to the popularity of numerous Khadi products.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the Delhi High Court declined to grant interim relief to the KVIC for several reasons. Primarily, the court determined that since Girdhar Industries held a valid registration for “GIRDHAR KHADI,” it could not be accused of trademark infringement.

Regarding the issue of passing off, the court emphasized that it was essential for the KVIC to prove that it had established the requisite goodwill and reputation by the time Girdhar Industries began using the disputed mark. Any goodwill or reputation acquired by the KVIC’s mark after this specific date was deemed irrelevant for legal evaluation. As the KVIC failed to demonstrate that “KHADI” had acquired the necessary goodwill and reputation in relation to soaps and detergents prior to Girdhar Industries’ use of its mark, the court refused to enjoin the use of the “GIRDHAR KHADI” mark.

The Delhi High Court orders removal of “Be The Beer” mark from the Register of Trade Marks in a petition filed by food and beverage cafés chain “The Beer Cafe”

The court issued the order in response to a petition filed by BTB Marketing Private Limited, the company that operates “The Beer Cafe” chain. The petition requested rectification of the “Be The Beer” trademark, which was registered in the name of Deepshikha Singh in October 2017. BTB Marketing, asserting itself as the registered owner of the “The Beer Cafe” mark since 2010, claimed that the “Be The Beer” mark was essentially a visual representation of its own mark, allegedly being used for Singh’s cafe.

It was argued that since BTB Marketing operated in the food and beverage industry and ran cafes, the mere addition of the prefix ‘BE’ created deceptive similarity with its registered mark, which had been in prior use.

Read order here.

Bad Bunny sues fan over ‘bootleg’ YouTube videos and alleged copyright infringement

Bad Bunny has filed a lawsuit against a concert attendee who refused to remove videos posted to YouTube containing “substantial portions” of his recent show in Utah. The lawsuit, filed by the reggaeton artist, raises a rare legal dispute over copyright infringement, the fair use of an artist’s work, and the promotional value of fan videos online, all triggered by the response of the YouTuber who uploaded the videos.

According to the complaint filed in a federal court in California last week, Eric Guillermo Madroñal Garrone, the founder and owner of the YouTube channel MADforliveMUSIC, was asked to take down 10 videos featuring several full songs by Bad Bunny from the concert at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 21.

The complaint alleges that these videos contained “unauthorized bootleg” footage that infringed on Bad Bunny’s copyrights, leading the singer to submit a takedown request through YouTube to have the videos removed from the platform.

Madroñal Garrone responded to the request with a formal counternotice, defending his right to post the videos. He cited his rights to freedom of expression and argued that the footage depicted a “newsworthy event of high public interest,” as evidenced by documents attached to the complaint by Bad Bunny’s attorneys.

NVIDIA faces AI copyright lawsuit

Three authors have initiated a lawsuit against the graphics processing unit (GPU) leader Nvidia, alleging that the company illegally trained its artificial intelligence (AI) platform NeMo using their copyrighted works. This legal action adds to the escalating tensions worldwide between intellectual property rights holders and companies developing AI models, echoing previous lawsuits involving entities like Microsoft and OpenAI. Authors Brian Keene, Abdi Nazemian, and Stewart O’Nan have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Nvidia in a San Francisco federal court. The lawsuit alleges that Nvidia illegally utilized their copyrighted works as data input for its AI platform NeMo. Specifically, Keene’s 2008 novel ‘Ghost Walk,’ Nazemian’s 2019 novel ‘Like a Love Story,’ and O’Nan’s 2007 novella ‘Last Night at the Lobster’ are cited as the works used. Nvidia describes NeMo as a ‘toolkit’ for various natural language processing tasks.