Wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year. IPRMENTLAW turns 5 this January, 2023. Thanking you for being a part of this journey. Presenting to you the most awaited annual highlights compiled by team Iprmentlaw (Sudarshan Mohta, Akshat Agrawal, Angad Makkar, Lokesh Vyas, Aviral Srivastava, Ujjawal Bharagava, Vanshika Arora, Anusha Das and Anushree Rauta)
The broad categories of the highlights include the following topics
- Policy Issues
- Hurting religious and other sentiments/ content regulation
- Privacy and Personality rights
- Sports and Gaming
- Intermediary liability
Shemaroo Vs News Nation: Bombay High Court Rejects Fair Dealing & De Minimis Defence, Grants Injunction in Favour of Shemaroo
The Bombay High Court granted injunction in favour of Shemaroo in a copyright infringement suit against News Nation and restrained the latter from exploiting Shemaroo’s content in any manner whatsoever on their TV channels “News Nation”, “News State UP and Uttarakhand”, “News State MP and Chhattisgarh” or any other channels or any other platform. While granting the injunction the Court factored the previous license executed between the parties, the qualitative and quantitative analysis and the commercial purpose for which the content was used.
The court ruled that the defence of de minimis non curat lex is often misconstrued as an excuse to infringe copyright. Parties are often mistaken that trivial usage without seeking license is permissible. Whether the principle of de minimis will apply to a particular usage is always ascertained basis facts of each case where the courts have delved into qualitative and quantitative tests, purpose of use, effect of such use on the legal rights of the copyright owner among others.
Supreme Court grants Mumbai-based studio ownership of ‘Sholay’ in copyright dispute case
The Supreme Court on 29th March, 2022, granted Mumbai-based NH Studioz, the ownership of copyrights of the Bollywood cult classic ‘Sholay’. Copyrights of Sholay were held by NH Studioz since 2015. The rights of the movie were recently claimed by Sippy Films and Goldmine Telefilms.
Earlier, Generation Three Entertainment and Sholay Media and Entertainment owned by Sippy Films had wrongly terminated the copyright agreement signed by the original producers. NH Studioz challenged the stay put on by a division bench in the Supreme Court. The matter was ruled in the favour of NH Studioz and the copyrights of the movie were successfully retained by the company.
Read order here.
Bombay High Court Restrains Saregama From Infringing Shemaroo’s Copyright In ‘Disco Dancer’ Movie, Allows London Show To Go On
The Bombay High Court passed a temporary order restraining Saregama India Limited from infringing Shemaroo Entertainment Limited’s copyright in the Mithun Chakraborty starrer Disco Dancer. Though the interim order extends to performance of the stage play ‘Disco Dancer – The Musical’ by Saregama, the court clarified that the ad interim relief granted to Shemaroo will not affect the planned staging of the musical at a theatre in London from November 16.
Granting ad-interim relief in favour of the plaintiff, Justice Manish Pitale observed that prima facie the intellectual property rights and other theatrical rights of the film were assigned to Shemaroo by producer B Subhash in 2011, prior to a 2019 agreement cited by Shemaroo. On an overall assessment and appreciation of the clauses of all the agreements, the Court found that the plaintiff had made out a strong prima facie case in its favour.
Read order here.
Delhi High Court Rejects Amazon’s Plea Against Telecast Of India Vs New Zealand Matches By Private Cable And DTH Operators
The Delhi High Court on November 25 rejected a petition by Amazon challenging an order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which effectively allowed broadcast of India-New Zealand cricket matches by all private cable and Direct To Home (DTH) operators through DD Sports channel thereby diluting the exclusive media rights held by Amazon. It was Amazon’s case that the rights granted to Prasar Bharti are restricted for retransmission only on Prasar Bharti’s DTH platform – DD Free Dish — and not others like Dish TV. TDSAT had earlier passed an order on Dish TV’s plea ordering Prasar Bharti to supply DD Sports channel in an unencrypted mode.
On July 11, the court directed Telegram to preserve the Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) of its users as under the IT Rules 2021 that requires an intermediary in India to retain user information for a period of 180 days after any cancellation or withdrawal of registration.
The court ordered that the information be submitted in a sealed cover to the counsels for the plaintiff with a clear direction that neither the plaintiff nor the counsels shall disclose the data to any third party, except for the purposes of the proceeding or disclosure to government authorities or police.
Delhi High Court upholds that copyright owners have the right to dub cinema
A single judge bench of Justice Jyoti Singh has vacated its earlier ex-parte injunction order against M/s Sithara Entertainment which barred it from releasing the Hindi-dubbed version of its Telegu remake of the Malayalam movie, “Ayyappanum Koshiyum”. The court further held that the owners of the copyright in a cinematographic work have the right to sub-title and dub their work.
In this suit, the Plaintiffs had sought permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from dubbing the Telegu film “Bheemla Nayak” as the rights for Hindi remake were with the Plaintiff.
Copyright infringement case filed against makers of JugJugg Jeeyo, no stay on release
Recently, JugJugg Jeeyo starring Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Neetu Kapoor, and Anil Kapoor got into legal trouble when a Ranchi-based writer named Vishal Singh sued the makers of the movie for reported copyright violation. Consequently, the viewing of the film is presently scheduled in court before release. Dismissing the plea of the petitioner, the Court held that the balance of convenience lay in the defendants’ favour. “The plaintiff is not likely to succeed but presuming that even if they are still, the order for injunction is tilted in favour of the defendants considering the balances of convenience and irreparable loss,” said the court. And noted that “It is not possible for any person to reach a conclusion about the similarity merely on the basis of one-page story with the few minutes trailer of the film.”
Read order: here
Bombay High Court grants ad interim relief to producers of show ‘Criminal Justice’ in copyright infringement suit (here)
The Bombay High Court in Applause Entertainment Private Ltd. vs Krishna Anand granted ad interim relief to Plaintiff, the producers of web series ‘Criminal Justice’. The suit was filed when they came across a casting call for the web series made by one Anand, through an Instagram account. Consequently, a legal notice to him to delete posts and to cease and desist from using the plaintiff’s material.
Delhi High Court allows release of Shamshera movie on OTT subject to deposit of Rs. 1 crore with registry
The Delhi High Court allowed the Yash Raj Films Private Limited to release the movie Shamshera on OTT Platforms on August 19, 2022 after depositing Rs. 1 crore with the court registry. The Court further held that failure on the part of the producers to deposit the amount by August 22, will lead to an injunction against further telecast of the movie from the very next day.The order comes in the light of the copyright infringement suit filed by Bikramjeet Singh Bhullar against YRF on the grounds that the movie is based on his literary work, ‘Kabu na chhadein khet’.
The order of the Court dated August 18, 2022 can be accessed here.
Another FIR Against Makers of Suriya’s Jai Bhim, This Time Under Copyright Act
The movie Jai Bhim has been making headlines for yet another FIR filed against the makers. In the latest case, director Gnanavel and producer Suriya have been accused for copyright infringement and an FIR has been registered under Section 63 in the Copyright Act. The FIR has been registered by a man whose life story has been depicted in Jai Bhim.
In his complaint, the man has claimed that his royalty amount was not paid by the makers as the filmmakers had promised a profit share to him when he presented the story to the director-producer duo. Jai Bhim was previously caught in a legal battle for allegedly showing the Vanniyar community in a bad light. A case was registered against the director and the producer under section 295A of the IPC on May 17. Later, Suriya and Gnanavel had approached the Madras High Court to quash the FIR and had stated that a few scenes about the Vanniyar community were edited out before the release of Jai Bhim. The director also claimed that the complainant had not watched the movie properly, which led to false allegations. A member of the Vanniyar community then accused Gnanavel of showing Vanniyars engaging in illegal work. This claim was also rubbished by both Suriya and Gnanavel.
Later, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition registered against them.
Kantara: Court directs the makers to stop playing ‘Varaha Roopam’ song in theatres
The Kozhikode sessions court had issued an injunction barring the makers from playing the ‘Varaha Roopam’ song, after receiving a plagiarism lawsuit from the popular Malayalam music band, Thaikkudam Bridge. The song was also barred from all the major streaming platforms. A similar order was passed by the Palakkad District Court. Both these orders are no more into effect as in both suits, applications for return of plaints have been allowed by the respective courts. The Kerala High Court, although stayed the order of the Kozhikode Court returning the plaint, but clarified that the injunction that was granted prior to the same would no longer be in effect.
Detailed post here.
‘Jawaan’ plagiarism case: Producers council asks Manickam Narayanan to submit proofs
Popular Tamil director Atlee who is making his Bollywood debut with ‘Jawaan’ starring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role is facing trouble as a complaint has been filed against the director in the Tamil Film Producer Council over the film’s story. Recently, in the plagiarism case, the producer’s council has asked Manickam Narayanan for proof.
Producer council has begun the investigation over the complaint filed by Manickam Narayan as he claimed the 2006 Tamil ‘Perarasu’ and Jawaan’ stories are the same. The board members have reportedly heard both sides, and they asked Manickam Narayanan for proof supporting his complaint.
Shah Rukh Khan is said to be playing a dual role, the only similarity with Vijayakanth’s dual action drama ‘Perarasu’ so far. But Jawaan’ and ‘Perarasu’ stories are expected to be different ones since Shah Rukh Khan is said to be playing an army man in the Bollywood film, while Vijayakanth’s both characters are different in the 2006 Tamil film.
Kolkata filmmaker accuses T-Series of stealing Mister Mummy concept
Kolkata filmmaker has demanded credit for his story and alleged that TSeries has adopted his original idea for Riteish Deshmukh’s upcoming film Mister Mummy. The filmmaker claimed that his script is registered with the Screen Writers’ Association. The filmmaker has also posted screenshots of discussions with TSeries over his idea in 2020 which TSeries had apparently agreed to co-produce.
Netflix, Vir Das among four booked for infringement of Copyright
Ashwin Gidwani, a producer and who is also a managing director of Ashwin Gidwani production private limited has filed a complaint against OTT platform, Netflix, actor and stand-up comedian, Vir Das and two others before the Mumbai Police under the Copyright Act. In the complaint, is is alleged by the complainant that the four violated a copyright agreement related to a script and show known as “History of India VIRitten (2010)” by using concept and content of the said script and show for making a new one called “Virdas for India”.
Journalist Rajat Sharma submits before the Delhi High Court that he will not broadcast Aap Ki Adalat episodes shot between 1992 and 1997
Zee had earlier sued Rajat Sharma and India TV for copyright infringement after they aired an episode of Aap Ki Adalat starring former Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray which was produced by Zee. India TV and journalist Rajat Sharma have given an undertaking before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court that they will not broadcast the episodes of Aap Ki Adalat shot between 1992 and 1997 since they were produced by Zee.
FIR filed against CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai and MD of Youtube, Gautam Anand in a copyright infringement case by filmmaker Suneel Darshan
A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed by filmmaker Suneel Darshan against Google CEO, Sundar Pichai and Youtube MD, Gautam Anand for infringement of copyright of his 2017 movie ‘Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha’. Mr. Darshan approached a Mumbai Court in a private complaint alleging that the movie was illegally uploaded on Youtube even though he did not give any rights of the film to any person.
Bombay High Court refuses to stall release of “Mission to Pakistan”
The Bombay High Court heard an interim application in a commercial suit filed by the plaintiff, Solflicks Filmworks Pvt. Ltd. (SFPL) against the defendant, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEE). The application sought stay on ZEE from using any intellectual property rights belonging to SFPL with respect to the series ‘Mission to Pakistan’ and also restraining the defendant from entering into any agreement with any third party in respect of the said series.
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court denied the relief sought by the plaintiff and refused to stall the release of the web series by denying the ad-interim relief sought through the application.
Read order here.
Madras HC Rules in favour of Ilaiyaraaja in 8-year-old copyright infringement case
The Madras High Court on Feb 18 restrained record labels from utilising original songs by composer Ilaiyaraja in the appeal filed by him against single bench order. The division bench ruled in favour of the music composer and said that the Echo and Agi Recording will not be allowed to distribute Ilaiyaraaja music after the termination of the contract. The next hearing has been adjourned until March 21, while allowing the music labels to present their side.
According to reports, the Echo and Agi Recording firms had reached an arrangement to sell Ilaiyaraaja’s works on CDs and cassettes. Ilaiyaraaja filed a lawsuit in 2014 against music labels and others for allegedly infringing his licensing over the songs he composed. He claimed that the companies were not only infringing on his copyrights but also profiting from his music after the contract was terminated. In 2019, the single bench, ruled in favour of the music labels Echo and Agi Audio. However, Ilaiyaraaja’s songs were prohibited from being monetised through TV reality shows, concerts and online radio channels without his permission. Films with music created by Ilaiyaraaja that have been released and shown in theatres were exempted from the order.
Telangana High Court sets aside injunction order against Alt Balaji’s show “Lock Upp”
Telangana High Court vide its order dated 26th February, 2022 set aside an injunction order passed by City Civil Court in a copyright infringement case filed by Pride Media.
In the suit filed by Pride Media proprietary Firm represented by its proprietor Abdul Haleem Baig, the Plaintiff claimed that he came up with the story by name the ‘The Jail ‘ and prepared script with 22 celebrities. The concept story is the reality show for 100 days and the story was registered in “Screen Writers’ Association.” They could not produce the same due to lock down and COVID -19 when they were gearing up to mobilize production, they came to know about the Defendant’s show which they alleged to be infringing their copyright. An ad interim ex parte injunction was passed by City Civil Court on 23.02.2022. In the appeal filed by Alt Balaji, the Telangana High Court found balance of convenience in favour of the Appellant i.e., Alt Balaji on account of delay of the plaintiff in approaching the court and huge amounts being spent by Alt Balaji on the show which was scheduled to release on 27.02.2022. Accordingly the High Court set aside the injunction order passed by the trial court.
Supreme Court Refuses To Stop Streaming Of Reality Show ‘Lock Upp’ Over Copyright Infringement Dispute
The relief was sought against an ad-interim Special Leave Petition against the judgment dated 26th February, 2022, passed by the Telangana High Court setting aside the ad-interim injunction granted by the Trial Court against the reality show.
The Supreme Court refused to entertain the petition seeking directions to Alt Balaji and its agents to restrain from exhibiting and publishing the reality show on OTT platforms, YouTube and other social media.
While noting that the show has already been telecasted, a bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna granted liberty to the petitioner to move the Trial Court for expeditious hearing of their interim injunction application.
Madras HC notice to makers of Valimai for ‘plagiarism’
The Madras High Court on March 11, 2022 issued notice to makers of Ajith-starrer Valimai, including producer Boney Kapoor and director H Vinoth on a petition alleging plagiarism of the movie Metro. Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy issued the orders for notice returnable by March 17 on a petition filed by J Jayakrishnan, joint producer of Metro. He said Metro opened a new plot of story telling in the Tamil film industry wherein the subject issue connects unemployment, chain snatching and drug peddling and was narrated and depicted in a unique manner. The storytelling, character selection and emotional elements made the movie a success.The plaintiff said a substantial portion of Valimai is derived from the story of Metro. Jayakrishnan sought for the court to restrain the defendants from screening the film in theatres and exhibiting it on OTT platforms and television channels. He further sought for the defendants to pay damages of Rs 1 crore.
Madras High Court admits Ilaiyaraaja’s plea seeking copyright on musical work in 30 films
The division bench comprising Justices M Duraiswamy and T V Tamil Selvi admitted a plea from music maestro Ilaiyaraaja to stay the operation of a single judge’s order that permanently restrained him from claiming copyright over entire musical work and sound recordings related to 30 feature films in South Indian languages, produced during the 1980s.
The matter arose when Indian Record Manufacturing Company Limited (INERCO) filed a suit against Ilaiyaraaja and Agi Music Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) and Unisys Info Solutions Private Limited (Haryana), seeking permanent injunction restraining them from in any manner infringing its copyright over the entire musical works and sound recordings contained in the schedule mentioned in the feature films.
Kerala High Court: Mere Similarities Do Not Attract S. 14 of the Copyright Act
The Kerala High Court dismissed an appeal moved by the broadcasting team of a popular Malayalam sitcom ‘Uppum Mulakum’ seeking an injunction on the telecasting of an imitation of the appellant’s programme.
As observed by the Apex Court, there cannot be any copyright in an idea, subject matter, themes, plots, or historical or legendary facts; in such a situation, the violation of copyright will stand confined only to the form, manner, arrangement and expression of the idea by the author of the copyrighted work.
The Court reiterated that when an idea originated or developed from a common source, similarities are bound to occur, and unless the fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyrighted work, the same cannot be brought under the purview of violation.
“Mere employment of very same actors in a different atmosphere, though it is pertaining to the day-to-day life of a family may not by itself bring the matter within the sweep of the copyright as defined under Section 14, especially when one is dealing with a Hindu family and the other one is dealing with a Hindu family and the other one is dealing with a Christian Anglo-Indian family.”
Bombay High Court Refuses To Stay Release of Shahid Kapoor Starrer ‘Jersey’
The suit was filed alleging that several aspects of plaintiff’s script, like the story line and concept, have been plagiarised by the producers of Jersey, which is a remake of a Telugu film.
After hearing arguments advanced by both the parties, the Court noted that there was a substantial delay by the plaintiff in approaching the HC. The Telugu film, which was later dubbed in English was available since 2019.
Read order here.
Delhi court stops movie release over alleged infringement of late Parikrama guitarist Sonam Sherpa’s works
A Delhi court has stopped release of the film Broken Wings over the works of late Parikrama band member and musician Sonam Sherpa’s works allegedly being used in the movie without consent.
The Delhi Court has prima facie found a case of copyright infringement. Restraining the release of the film, District Judge Sanjiv Jain said the film can only be released if the late artist’s works are deleted.
The court held that prima facie case exists in favour of the plaintiff. Balance of convenience also lies in favour of plaintiff as, if the defendant is allowed to use the same by the time trial comes to an end, he would exploit the musical works to his full advantage to the detriment of the plaintiff.
The court was hearing a suit filed by the late musician’s wife, Dina Ramliani Ralte. She alleged that her husband’s works were used in the film, which was set to be released on April 29, by the defendant without consent or credit.
According to the judge, Sherpa’s musical works were used in the film without the authority or consent of the plaintiff. The court decided to restrain the defendants from releasing the film if the two songs, Timro Mero and There She Goes, were not deleted till May 19, 2022.
Supreme Court Dismisses Director SJSuryah’s Plea For Injunction Against Hindi Remake Of Tamil Film ‘Valee’
A Supreme Court bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna upheld the Madras High Court’s order dated November 12, 2021 of refusing to grant injunction against the remake of the Tamil film “Valee”. SJ Suryah, the director of the 1999 film starring Ajith and Simran, had approached the Top Court.
Although the bench upheld the High Court’s judgement, it said that if ultimately the plaintiff succeeds in the suit and establishes his right, he can claim the damages and/or compensation. The injunction which was sought for copyright infringement was against the producer and one Fakrudeen Ali, who had bought the remake rights of the film, ‘Vaalee’.
SJ Suryah had claimed that credit for the story, screenplay and dialogue pertaining to the film was given to him. While dismissing the plea for grant of interim relief by way of injunction, the High Court had noted that the director had failed to produce anything that prima facie denotes his rights over the screenplay and dialogue.
Read order here
Supreme Court allows OTT release of Amitabh Bachchan’s Jhund
Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and A S Bopanna of the Supreme Court stayed the order of the Telangana High Court which had restricted release of the film.
The Bench held that the High Court had overlooked the principles concerning the grant of interim relief in such matters and said that prima facie, the impugned order was against the balance of convenience.
Read the High Court order here
Writer Shiva Murthy files Plagiarism case against makers of Ravi Teja and Shruti Haasan starrer “Krack”
Shiva Subrahmaniya Murthy, a Hyderabad-based writer, filed a complaint against producer Tagore Madhu at the Jubilee Hills police station, alleging that the film’s story has been lifted from a book he published in 2015. Confirming the same, SHO Rajshekar Reddy tstates “On May 12, an individual named Shiva Subrahmaniya Murthy filed a complaint against Tagore Madhu for allegedly plagiarising the story of Krack. He claims his story has been used without consent. As the film was released more than a year ago, we are taking legal opinion on whether a case can be filed now. We have not reached out to the makers yet.”
Delhi High Court Decrees Copyright Ownership Suit Filed By TV Music Composer Abhishek Ray Against Showtime Events
The Delhi High Court has held that the original producer, lyricist and composer of a music album is entitled to a decree of declaration to that effect. A single judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh thus granted a decree of permanent injunction in favour of TV music composer Abhishek Ray, claiming rights over music album ‘Kamasutra – Moods of Love’. Ray had approached the High Court against Showtimes Events (India) Pvt. Ltd., run by defendants R. Paul and Michael Menezes.
The case of the Plaintiff was that the Plaintiff merely agreed to assign the ‘right to use’ the musical compositions to the Defendants for the proposed musical. All other rights in the sound recordings and music compositions were retained by the Plaintiff.
Read order here.
Har Har Sambhu’: Odisha Composer Claims Copyright Violation, To Sue Farmani Naaz
After the alleged fatwa for singing ‘Har Har Shambhu’, Farmani Naaz of Indian Idol fame has run into another trouble with a composer from Odisha intending to sue her over copyright violation.
A song by the same name rendered by Keonjhar girl Abhilipsa Panda, which made her a social media sensation, has been composed by Jeetu Sharma. The ‘Shiva Stotra’, which was uploaded on April 19, has garnered more than 8 million views. Farmani, a resident of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, uploaded the music cover on her YouTube channel on July 24 during the Kanwar Yatra.
Decree Against Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) For Playing Music Without License
The Ad-hoc District Judge-1 (FTC-1), Panjim, after hearing the counsel for IPRS stated that “They (ESG) are permanently restrained from infringing the copyright of IPRS in any musical works by holding any concerts under the umbrella of International Film festival of India (IFFI) or any other such events at Kingfisher Village in public” and has ordered the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) to pay Rs 5,77,500 to the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) towards the royalty licence fee for infringement of copyright.
ISRA Withdraws Suits Filed in Delhi High Court
In lieu of amicable settlement ISRA withdraws suits against Ashok Singh, Debashish Mukherjee, Deepak Arora, Garuav Mehta, A. D. Singh, Marshal Sports Pvt. Ltd., Amit Kumar Chauhan, Priyanshu Sukheja, Harminder Singh and others.
Expert Opinion of Dr Arul Scaria in Phonographic Performance Limited vs Lookpart Exhibitions and Events Private Ltd. is taken on Record (see here).
The Delhi high court recently in a suit filed by Phonographic Performance Limited against Lookpart Exhibitions and Events Private Ltd., an event management company, appointed an expert Dr. Arul George Scaria (associate professor of law and co-director, Centre for Innovation, IP and Competition at National law University, Delhi) to assist in the interpretation of section 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act, 1957 to the extent of fair use of sound recordings in marriage ceremonies and weddings. As reported: The bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh said the issue raised would have large scale implications for artists such as lyricists, music composers, singers, sound recording producers and owners and also added that it would also have a significant impact on entities involved in the organisation and management of weddings and other social events. (see here)
The parties settled the settled out of court and the Court (merely) took the expert opinion on record noting “. . . the valuable assistance rendered by the Expert – Dr. Scaria. Considering the time and effort expended by Dr. Scaria in addressing the legal issues which have been raised in the present suit”.
Dr Scaria’s full submissions can be found here on his SSRN Page.
Read order here.
Punjab and Haryana High Court quashes notice allowing playing of songs without license from copyright owner during weddings [Novex Communications Private Limited v. Union of India & Anr.]
Recently, a single judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a public notice allowing sound recordings to be played without obtaining a license from the copyright owner during any religious ceremonies or wedding processions. The said notice was issued by the Registrar of Copyrights. While quashing the notice, Justice Raj Mohan Singh stated that a notice granting a general exemption violates the protection granted by the Copyright Act, 1957 to the owners of Copyright.
Read order here.
Pahari Performing Rights Association files application for registration as a copyright society for musical work and lyrics
The Copyright Office vide public notice dated February 18, 2022, notified that the Pahari Performing Rights Association has filed an application for registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 for carrying out business of issuing or granting license in respect of musical works as defined under Section 2(p) of the Copyright Act, 1957 and literary work associated with musical work. The Copyright Office has invited objections / comments from general public/ stakeholders within 30 days of publication of the notice. Read the public notice here.
RMPL Vs PPL: Delhi High Court as a pro-tem measure reinstates RMPL as a copyright society for sound recordings while at the same time directing government to consider PPL’s application
Delhi High Court vide its order dated April 11, 2022 granted relief to both RMPL and PPL in their conflict over registration as a copyright society. The Court has granted, as a pro tem measure, a stay on the decision of the single judge order to the extent that it disallows RMPL from functioning as a Copyright Society. The Division Bench has also directed the Government of India to consider the application of PPL during the pendency of the appeal- within four weeks. Read our detailed post here.
Universal City Studios Llc & Ors Vs Vegamovies.Run & Ors: Delhi High Court grants dynamic injunction against rogue websites in favour of Universal City Studios
The Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte injunction in a suit filed by Universal City Studios and others against several rogue websites such as vegamovies.run and others. The Court relied on the UTV Software Communication Ltd case to be freed from constant monitoring and adjudicating the issues of mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites and directed that as and when the Plaintiffs file an application under Order 1 Rule 10 CPC for impleadment of such websites, Plaintiffs shall file an affidavit confirming that the newly impleaded website is a mirror/redirect/alphanumeric website which appears to be associated with any of the Defendant Websites based on its name, branding or the identity of its operator, or has been discovered to provide additional means of accessing the Defendant Websites and other domains/domain along with their subdomains and subdirectories, owners/website operators/entities which are discovered to have been engaging in infringing the Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights, with sufficient supporting evidence. Such application shall be listed before the Joint Registrar, who on being satisfied with the material placed on record, shall issue appropriate directions to the ISPs.
Read order: here
Bengaluru Police registers FIR against rogue digital platforms involved in content piracy
Bengaluru Police recently filed FIR against rogue digital platforms namely, TamilMV, TamilBlasters. Tamilrockers, and a third party rogue app Pikashow TV following a complaint that has been filed by Disney Star. The said FIR has been registered under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 63 and 65 of the Copyright Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.
Delhi High Court Restrains Illegal Websites from Hosting Warner Bros Content
The Delhi High Court recently granted a permanent injunction in favour of global entertainment company Warner Brothers while restraining “rogue” torrent websites from distributing, broadcasting, transmitting, and streaming its content.
Warner Bros in its plea claimed that it had conducted an investigation and learnt of the extent of the infringing activity of the rogue websites, which had streamed and downloaded their original cinematograph films in which copyright vests. For the purposes of compliance with the orders of the court, the plaintiff had also impleaded various government departments and Internet Service Providers.
While holding that the suit could be decided summarily as the websites in question were not represented, Justice Navin Chawla held that the defendants had no real prospect of successfully defending their copyright infringement against Warner Bros and have also not chosen to contest the same.
The court held that this was a fit case for passing a summary judgment invoking the provisions of Order XIIIA of CPC, as applicable to the commercial disputes. The suit was, thus, decreed in favour of the Plaintiff.
Delhi High Court restrains unauthorized DTH operators, ‘rogue websites’ from broadcasting India-England series
The Delhi High Court recently passed an ex-parte order on a plea by Sony pictures restraining 39 rogue websites from streaming the matches of the upcoming series between Indian and England. It was argued by Sony pictures that it owns the broadcasting and streaming rights of the cricket matches in various countries of the South-Asian region.
Delhi High Court Closes Suit By Hotstar Against Rogue Websites Over Unauthorized Telecasting Of ‘The Big Bull Film’
The Delhi High Court has disposed of a suit by Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (Hotstar), filed against various rogue websites apprehending illegal and unauthorized telecast of ‘The Big Bull’ film before its release last year.
While the movie was slated for theatrical release on 8th April, 2021, the suit was filed on 22nd March 2021 seeking an injunction blocking various rogue websites.
Justice Prathiba M Singh, who decreed the suit after observing that it has served the purpose, ordered that the nature of the present suit was intended to protect the Plaintiff’s investment in the film ‘The Big Bull’ and to ensure that no unauthorised online telecast of the film takes place, and since the suit has served its purpose, all the rogue websites have been blocked and domain names have also been de-activated.
Read order here.
Delhi High court restrains rogue websites from streaming Asia Cup 2022
In a judgment related to a suit filed by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited, the Delhi HC restrained 11 rogue websites from streaming and broadcasting matches of the Asia Cup 2022.
Star India, which had the global rights of the event, filed the suit in the court as these websites (mentioned in their suit) regularly rebroadcast the live match content illegally and the exclusivity of the rights earned by the broadcaster is being violated.
Justice Prathiba M Singh, while noting that various sporting events are usually unauthorisedly broadcasted and streamed by various websites, said that Star India has the global rights of online streaming and hence no other website should broadcast the event illegally. The court also directed the Domain Name Registrars (DNRs), Department of Technology (DoT), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), and Internet Service Providers to immediately block the domains of these websites and maintain status quo during the tournament.
Piracy needs to be dealt with heavy hand says the Delhi High Court in a case involving “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva” –
The Delhi High Court restrained 18 rogue websites from streaming or hosting the upcoming Bollywood movie “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva” and granted ex parte ad interim relief to Star India Private Limited. The Court also directed the Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue necessary notifications calling upon various Internet Service Providers to block access to the websites in question. (Read here)
Delhi HC restrains 23 “rogue websites” from streaming Akshay Kumar-starrer Ram Setu
The Delhi high court has restrained 23 “rogue websites” from distributing, hosting, streaming, retransmitting, exhibiting and downloading of the upcoming movie Ram Setu, saying that piracy has to be curbed and needs to be dealt with a heavy hand.
The producer had listed 23 video sharing websites that are known to offer visitors download links to movies and web series.
The Court said “Looking at the investments made by the plaintiff in the production and promotion of the film as also the exclusive right vested in it under the provisions of the Act, this court prima facie agrees with the plaintiff that if the rogue websites communicate the film in any manner, on any platform, simultaneously with the theatrical release of the film on October 25 or in its close proximity thereafter, it would severely impact the interest of the plaintiff monetarily and will also erode the value of the film.”
Delhi High Court Orders Blocking Of ‘Pika Show’ App In India, Says ‘Large Amount’ Of Copyrighted Content Being Streamed Illegally
The Delhi High Court has ordered blocking of ‘PikaShow’ mobile application, observing that it is a “rogue app” which is intended “only to broadcast and stream illegal content.”
Passing interim injunction against the application and its owners, Justice Prathiba M Singh directed Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue blocking orders against Pika Show app and all the domain names making it available, to ensure that it is blocked by all internet service providers (ISPs)across the country.
The direction was passed in a suit filed by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited seeking a permanent injunction against the mobile application Pika Show, alleging that it was hosting infringing content over which they have exclusive rights and copyright. The court also said that the source domains are privacy protected and there are no details whatsoever as to who their registrants are. Observing that blocking of URLs themselves may not be sufficient to stop the streaming of infringing content, the court thus passed an order of interim injunction restraining the application and its owners from making available the same through any of the domain names or websites.
Read order here.
Delhi High Court Orders Suspension Of Over 700 Rogue Websites Accused Of Illegally Streaming Film ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’
The Delhi High Court has permanently restrained a total of 732 rogue websites from broadcasting and streaming the Ajay Devgn starrer movie “Bhuj: The Pride of India.”
The movie has now been released on various online and OTT platforms. Justice Prathiba M Singh decreed a suit filed last year by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited against 42 rogue websites seeking that the websites be restrained permanently from communicating the film to the public.
On August 9 last year, the court had passed an order of interim injunction against the 42 rogue websites as set out in the plaint, restraining them from broadcasting the movie.
However, despite the interim order, the court was apprised that additional URLs and domain names were also illegally streaming the film. In this regard, the plaintiffs then filed affidavits bringing on record various other domain names and websites.
Noting that the movie has already been released on various platforms including the OTT platforms and other online platforms, the court directed the domain name registrars to ensure that the impugned domain names are suspended, locked and status quo is maintained in respect of the same.
Read order here.
Madras High Court Restrains Over 12K Websites From Illegally Broadcasting FIFA World Cup 2022
The Madras High Court on November 18, granted interim injunction to Viacom18 and restrained more than 12,000 websites from showcasing the FIFA World Cup 2022. Viacom18, the plaintiff in the suit proceedings, contended that they have the exclusive rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the territories of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. For this, they had acquired all the necessary broadcasting rights including television rights, broadband transmission rights, mobile transmission rights and non-exclusive radio rights. They also submitted the letter issued by FIFA in this regard confirming their rights.
The plaintiff further provided a list of 12037 websites who were infringing upon Viacom18’s exclusive copyright in the sporting event. It was submitted that there was no possibility of blocking the infringing content alone in the websites. The court also gave liberty to the respondent ISPs to block the infringing websites. The order is to operate for a period of four weeks till the next hearing on December 16.
Read order here.
Bombay High Court passed John Doe order for the movie ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’
Recently, in Bhanushali Studios Ltd. & Ors. Vs. Telegram Messenger LLP & Anr., the Bombay HC passed an order for the plea filed by Bhanushali Studio Ltd. seeking urgent ad-interim relief for removal or deletion of infringing links of the movie “Janhit Mein Jaari” with immediate effect. The bench not only directed the concerned police stations to provide necessary assistance in this regard but also granted liberty to the producers to apply for removal of links if they find more infringing links.
Read order: here
Delhi HC Orders to Take Down URLs Infringing Trademark of Radio Mirchi
The bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar while dealing a case seeking an order of restrain against the defendants from broadcasting/transmitting/communicating the radio adaptation of literary works in which the plaintiff has copyright, under the brand name “Sunday Suspense” on any webpage/web link/application/intermediary platform granted interim protection to the Plaintiff for their registered device mark “Mirchi”.
The right to create copyrighted audio recordings based on the aforesaid literary works stands conferred on the plaintiff for three years commencing 22nd August 2022, which continues till 21st August 2025.
Defendants 1 to 25 are alleged rogue URLs, engaged in unauthorized and illegal broadcasting transmission and communication of the plaintiff’s copyrighted audio content. These URLs used well-known platforms operated by entities such as Apple and YouTube to broadcast their content.
The case of the plaintiff is that Defendants 1 to 25 URLs provide access to the copyrighted audio content of the plaintiff, under the head “Sunday Suspense”, and also refer to the Mirchi tagline of the plaintiff.
High Court observed that a prima facie case of infringement, over the web links is made out and granted interlocutory injunctive reliefs to the Plaintiff. In view of the above, the High Court directed Defendants 26 to 30 to take down the URLs reflected as Defendants 1 to 25 from their platforms.
Read Order here.
Madras High Court Orders Blocking Of More Than 13000 Websites To Prevent Piracy Of Vikram Vedha
The Madras High Court has ordered the blocking of over 13000 websites to prevent piracy of Vikram Vedha, a movie released yesterday. The interim injunction has been passed in a suit filed by Reliance Entertainment Studio Pvt Ltd.
Two separate orders have been passed by the Bench of Justice M. Sundar. The Bench restrained the respondents from infringing Copyright in the movie to prevent transmission, communication, display and exhibition of the movie and ordered that “for this purpose, if blocking of websites/web pages set out in Schedule-A to judge’s summons becomes necessary, the same shall be done by all concerned”.
The Court has also ordered restraining the respondents from recording, reproducing or allowing camera recording or allowing others to transmit, communicate or make available or distributing or duplicating or displaying or releasing or showing or uploading or downloading or exhibiting or playing and/or in any manner whatsoever from communicating the movie without a proper license.
The injunction was granted ex-parte since the Court found that ordering notice will entail delay and defeat the object of granting an interim order. The Court found that if the interim order is not granted, it can result in the piracy being completed in all aspects of the matter and it will lead to an irreversible situation causing irreparable legal injury incapable of compensation.
The interim injunction has been granted for a period of 6 weeks, on the interim applications.
Click here to read order.
Viacom18 files FIR over piracy of the movie ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’
Viacom18 filed a FIR at a Bangalore Police Station against a suspect who was arrested for indulging in piracy of the movie, Laal Singh Chaddha. Viacom18 received a tip from Cinepolis, Orion Mall, Bangalore against the accused.
During the investigation, the police discovered incriminating evidence showing the possibility of an organised crime syndicate operating to illegally upload and distribute the film and other pirated content. It was also discovered that the accused may have been involved in a larger piracy circuit with websites such as Tamilrockers and Primerockers, websites notorius for uploading and illegally uploading pirated content.
Vikram: Madras High Court Restricts Websites From Unauthorised Screening Of Kamal Haasan’s Film
After the Madras High Court restricted Internet Service Providers (ISP) and over 1000 websites from unauthorised screening or copying of the Kamal Haasan starrer Vikram, the superstar’s production house Raaj Kamal Films International is on high alert.
The production house has communicated to all the Internet Service Providers and sites that stringent legal action would be taken if the movie is copied or transmitted or if misused. According to the report of IANS, Madras High Court judge, Justice Saravanan had on a petition filed by R. Murali Krishnan of Raaj Kamal Films International, restraining 29 ISPs including BSNL, Vodafone idea, Airtel, and Reliance Jio and 1308 websites from unauthorised copying or transmission of Vikram, the complete movie or in parts.
‘Pirates’ Robbing Entertainment Giants Back In Focus As Disney Star Files Fir On Leaked Shows
An FIR filed in Bengaluru by streaming platform Disney Star against alleged piracy of their content has again brought to the fore a problem that industry insiders claim has long troubled production houses, and, of late, OTT platforms.
The legal provisions invoked in the FIR are Section 66 of the Information Technology Act (computer-related offences), besides Section 63 (offence of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by Copyright Act) and Section 65 (possession of plates for purpose of making copies) of the Copyright Act, besides Section 420 of the IPC (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
According to a report by the London-based Digital TV Research, OTT players in India risked losing an estimated revenue of $3.08 billion by 2022 because of piracy, where the revenue loss to piracy worldwide was pegged at $52 billion.
Meanwhile, a joint report published by content delivery network Akamai and tech company MUSO (which provides anti-piracy solutions) shows that global demand for pirated content went up between January 2021 and September 2021.
India, it said, recorded 6.5 billion visits to piracy websites, the third-highest after the US (13.5 billion) and Russia (7.2 billion).
Delhi High Court passes John Doe order restraining rogue websites from reproducing content from talk show ‘Unstoppable’
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday passed a John Doe order restraining various rogue websites from illegally reproducing content from the show ‘Unstoppable’ which airs on the over the top (OTT) platform Aha run by Arha Media and Broadcasting [Arha Media and Broadcasting Pvt Ltd vs www.vcinema.com & Ors.].
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva observed that given the plaintiff’s investment in the show, any illegal broadcasting would severely affect its monetary interest, and also diminish the value of the show. Hence, he ruled that a strong prima facie case was made out for grant of ex-parte ad interim injunction.
The plaintiff approached the Court seeking a restraint on illegal and unauthorized dissemination of the plaintiff’s alleged original content in its talk show series ‘Unstoppable’ which airs on its OTT Platform, Aha. The plaintiff submitted that any unauthorized reproduction of any part of the show, amounts to not only an infringement of its copyright, but also an infringement of the plaintiff’s exclusive broadcast reproduction rights.
Further, the plaintiff contended that most of the infringing websites did not disclose their names, addresses and other details due to which they were joined as ‘John Doe’ parties in the suit.
The court further asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to direct all registered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove any infringing links provided by the plaintiff, to direct ISPs to block rogue websites mentioned by the plaintiff and to provide plaintiff with complete details of the rogue websites, including but not limited to name, address, email address, phone number, IP address, etc., to enable the plaintiff to implead the said websites as defendants..
Read order here.
Delhi High Court states infringing content to be taken down from Telegram [Doctutorials Edutech Private Limited v. Telegram FZ-LLC & Ors.]
A suit was filed by the plaintiff Doctutorials Edutech Pvt. Ltd. against Telegram and some unknown defendants and any other person associated with them for releasing some of the paid content of the plaintiff on the social media platform, Telegram. The plaintiff provides online content for preparation of medical entrance exams whose sole rights are with the plaintiff only.
The Court held that the plaintiff had made a prima facie case and said that if the content is not taken down then the plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm if the relief is not granted and concluded that the content be taken down from telegram.
Delhi High Court Directs Telegram Messenger To Disclose Identity Of Users Sharing Dainik Jagran’s Epaper
The Delhi High Court has directed the instant messaging app Telegram to comply with a 2022 order directing it to disclose the basic subscriber information of the users who unauthorizedly upload and share ePaper of Dainik Jagran newspaper in PDF in their channels. The Court took note of the submissions by the plaintiff that this issue is no longer res integra and has been settled by a Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in Neetu Singh and Another v. Telegram FZ LLC and Others, 2022, SCC OnLine Del 2637.
Jagran Prakashan Limited, the media group which owns the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran, in 2020 filed a suit submitting that its ePaper, which can be accessed only after subscription, was being made available for free in PDF on various channels on Telegram. It argued that Telegram cannot escape from its liability on the ground that it is an intermediary, and must pull down the channels. Delhi HC had on May 29, 2020 ordered Telegram to disclose the identity of the users or owners of channels impleaded by the media group in its suit. In December 2020, Jagran Prakashan filed an application stating that Telegram had not complied with the direction.
Telegram discloses names and subscriber information of alleged copyright infringers second time To Delhi HC
India Today Group, earlier this year filed a suit seeking permanent injunction against Telegram channels which are allegedly infringing its trademarks and copyrights.
Earlier in March, Telegram had told the court that the offending channels have been deleted as per the list submitted by the media conglomerate.
When ‘Privacy’ met ‘Copyright’: Telegram ordered to Disclose Source
The Delhi High Court remarked that just because Telegram’s servers are not located in India does not mean that Indian courts cannot deal with copyright disputes. The Court ordered Telegram to disclose details of creators and operators of certain Telegram channels who were infringing copyright laws. This information includes phone numbers, IP addresses, and email addresses in a “sealed cover” within a period of two weeks. (Read here) Telegram has now done this.
Section 63 Copyright Act – Copyright Infringement Is A Cognizable & Non Bailable Offence: Supreme Court (see here)
Recently, the Supreme Court in Knit Pro International vs State of NCT of Delhi, the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna held that the offence of copyright infringement under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and nonbailable offence. Further, referring to Section 63 of the Copyright Act and Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr. P.C, the Court noted:
“In that view of the matter considering Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C., if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence. Only in a case where the offence is punishable for imprisonment for less than three years or with a fine only the offence can be said to be noncognizable. The language of the provision in Part II of First Schedule is very clear and there is no ambiguity whatsoever.”
Section 63 Of Copyright Act Is Cognizable Offence, Police Can Register FIR On Receipt Of Complaint: Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court has held that Section 63 of the Copyright Act, which prescribes a punishment of minimum 6 months that may extend to 3 years imprisonment, is cognizable offence and police can register a First Information Report, on receipt of a complaint.
Justice M Nagaprasanna observed tha