Copyrighted Music in Restaurants, Unlicensed Movies, and Storytelling Platforms

Through this blog post, we bring to you three copyright cases relating to ground licensing, movie licensing, and copyrights relating to storytelling platforms. While the licensing cases cover the consequences of using unlicensed and unauthorized copyrighted works, the storytelling platform case throws light on what is copyrightable and copying what amounts to infringement.

Novex acquires another interim injunction against use of its music in restaurants and food outlets.

The Delhi High Court recently granted an interim injunction restraining the defendant, who runs restaurants and outlets from playing the sound recordings of Novex without a license. The Court noted that Novex owns rights to the sound recordings and that it grants licenses under Section 30 of the Copyright Act. Novex is an aggregator of musical works and sound recordings and acquires assignments for a given period of time with respect to ground licensing. The hotels and restaurants in question in this case were playing music without a valid license.

Citation: Novex Communication Private Limited Vs. RSVK Restauranrt Private Limited [CS(COMM) 937/2023 & I.A. 26069/2023, I.A. 26070/2023, I.A. 26071/2023, I.A. 26072/2023, I.A. 26073/2023]

Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel held liable for infringing copyrights in the movies “Vipranarayana” and “Bhaktha Dhuruva Markandeya”

In a case relating to the movies “Vipranarayana” and “Bhaktha Dhuruva Markandeya”, the Madras High Court held that Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel is liable for infringing the copyrights of Bharani Pictures by telecasting the movies without authorization. The Court therefore granted an injunction restraining the defendant from using the copyrights. The Court also granted damages of Rs. 4 Lakh Rupees along with an interest of 9 percent from the date of institution of the suit.

Citation: M/s. Bharani Pictures Private Limited Vs. Sri Venkateswara Bakthi Channel [C.S. (Comm Div) No. 381 of 2019]

Humans of Bombay Vs. People of India: No exclusive rights in running a storytelling platform, but one platform cannot copy images, stories, photos, and presentations of another platform as copyrights subsist in such works, says Delhi High Court.

In a case involving two storytelling platforms, the Delhi High Court passed an order stating that one platform cannot copy the copyright works on another platform. The Court stated that copyrights would subsist in commissioned photos and videos, literary content such as the story and narrative, and presentation of stories of individuals. However, the Court stated that no copyright subsists over the idea of a storytelling platform and that no claims would lie against photos shared by individuals about whom stories are told on the platforms.

Citation: Humans of Bombay Stories Pvt. Ltd. Vs. POI Social Media Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. [CS (Comm.) 646/2023, I.As. 18038/2023 and 20079/2023]


From the business perspective, these cases make some important points:

  1. It is important to acquire licenses before using copyrighted works such as music, movies, etc.;
  2. Creating a competing platform to perform  a functionality such as storytelling may not give rise to copyright infringement; and
  3. Assessing copyright risks, and mitigating them is important to avoid liability and uncalled-for litigation.

The case notes in this blog post have been written by IP attorneys at BananaIP Counsels based on their review and understanding of the Judgments. It may be noted that other IP attorneys and experts in the field may have different opinions about the cases, or arrive at different conclusions therefrom. It is advisable to read the Judgments before making any decisions based on the case notes.

If you have any questions, speak with a Copyright expert/attorney – [email protected] or 91-80-26860414/24/34.