Madras High Court grants interim relief to Sun TV in a copyright infringement suit against Madurai Krishna Network [READ ORDER]

The Madras High Court vide order dated September 7, 2018 granted interim injunction in favour of Sun TV Network in a copyright infringement suit filed against Madurai Krishna Network. [Read order here]

Sun TV network sought the injunction against M/S Madurai Krishna Network Private Limited with regard to their copyright in 51 Tamil feature films. Sun TV network is a television network in South India running around 33 channels with large viewership. The defendant, owner of two television channels, “MK TV” and “MK Tunes” telecasts songs and clippings of films.

Sun TV claimed that they had entered into assignment agreements with various producers and copyright holders for cinematograph films for exploitation of the said 51 Tamil films through satellite and other modes. The defendant allegedly exploited the songs sequence and clippings in the aforesaid 51 movies by transmitting them on many occasions on its TV channels. Sun TV alleged that the said activities of the defendant was without any authorization from them and in infringement of their copyright in the said films.

The defendant claimed that they had approached Sun TV for a compulsory license under Section 31 of the Copyright Act with respect to the said films’, but the plaintiff did not respond. The defendant further submitted to the Court that the Copyright Board has become defunct and the powers now being vested with IPAB, the Rules in regard qua IPAB are yet to be framed. The Defendant submitted that it would be approaching the IPAB only after refusal by the Plaintiff.

On hearing the arguments of the parties and after submission of the defendant that it would be making a fresh application under Section 31 of the Copyright Act, the court was of the view that prima facie case had been made by Sun TV and balance of convenience was in favour of the plaintiff and the continued telecast without copyright/ pending request of Section 31 was required to be interdicted and irreversible injury incapable of compensation would be caused if the defendant continued the admitted exploitation of songs sequence and clippings of the said 51 films. The Court thus held that the defendant admittedly did not have any independent copyright in the said films telecasted by them and by virtue of that, the plaintiffs are liable to be granted interim relief. The interim relief has been granted till September 26, 2018.

It would be interesting to see if the Court makes any observations on grant of compulsory licenses in the absence of the IPAB (copyright division) being functional. Section 31(1)(b) of the Copyright Act is currently the subject matter of challenge before the Supreme Court in the matter of Lahari Recording Co vs Union of India and before the Calcutta High Court in the matter of Eskay Videos Pvt. Ltd vs Union of India.

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