CASE Act, Publicity Rights Suit Against Facebook and Reddit, and more
Chhichhore Leaked on Tamilrockers, Netflix Faces Third Suit over Fyre Festival Documentary, German News Publisher Sues Google for Non-Payment, Nintendo Seeking Damages from Infringing Website, CASE Act to Ease Financial Burden of Fighting Copyright Theft, US Court Declares Use of Picasso’s Works Fair Use, USD 10 million Right of Publicity Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook and Reddit, Netflix Partners with Dharmatic Entertainment, Spotify Acquires SoundBetter, Disney to Sell Gaming Division and more.
Chhichhore Leaked on Tamilrockers
The notorious website, Tamilrockers, known for leaking highly anticipated movies and tv shows, irrespective of their language or genre has added Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore, starring Sushant Sing and Shradha Kapoor, to its long list of victims.
In an attempt to stop online piracy members of the Film Federation of India (FFI) have asked for the Cinematograph Act to be amended. The existing laws, despite several complaints, bans and strict action by the courts have not been able to protect the rights of filmmakers. The government has introduced a Bill in Rajya Sabha to impose strict penalty to combat piracy.
In the recent past, major big-budget films, including Saaho, Judgementall Hai Kya, Kabir Singh, Bharat, Kalank, and Gully Boy were made available for illegally downloading and streaming. The second season of Netflix Original series Sacred Games was also leaked by the website. Several Hollywood titles have also fallen prey to the website, including Spider-Man: Far From Home, Toy Story 4 and Avengers: Endgame.
Netflix Faces Third Suit over Fyre Festival Documentary
Another copyright claim has now been filed against Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary for the use of unlicensed footage in the film.
Austin Mills, the copyright owner of the unlicensed footage has stated that his clips of the festival are “impactful” and are key to the film’s storytelling. Mills says that he refused to license the footage when approached by the makers of the documentary, but that it was used nonetheless.
A lawsuit filed last month with identical claim that resulted in an out-of-court settlement.
German News Publisher Sues Google for Non-Payment
VG Media filed a suit based on a German ancillary copyright law, in force since August 2013, in a German Court, against Google-owner Alphabet, demanding as much as 1 billion euros (USD 1.1 billion) in copyright fees for using news snippets on platforms such as Google News and YouTube.
The European Union has in recent times toughened its copyright rules forcing Google to pay publishers for news snippets and Facebook to filter out protected content. With respect to the suit, the German court sought guidance from Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). VG Media urged the German government to implement the new EU copyright rules immediately.
“A German provision prohibiting internet search engines from using newspaper or magazine snippets without the publisher’s authorisation must be disregarded in the absence of its prior notification to the Commission,” ECJ judges said.
Google claims, previously a majority of German publishers had allowed the preview of their content without payment as it resulted in their benefit, steering free users towards their websites.
Nintendo Seeking Damages from Infringing Website
Nintendo filed a lawsuit against RomUniverse.com, a video game emulation website, alleging that the website violated copyrighted work and trademarks by providing free copies of Nintendo games while seeking USD 150,000 in damages for each infringement of its copyrighted works and USD 2 million for each infringement of a Nintendo trademark. Nintendo claims in the lawsuit, the website hosts at least 3,200 of its own titles and over 200 games that are meant for Nintendo Switch, a console released in 2017.
RomUniverse could be liable for millions in damages since Nintendo is known for taking a hard stance against piracy and other forms of copyright infringement to protect the company’s IP. In recent times Nintendo has won 2 similar cases in Arizona and the UK.
CASE Act to Ease Financial Burden of Fighting Copyright Theft
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. This legislation will create the Copyright Claims Board at the U.S. Copyright office, which would hear and rule on small claims cases of copyright infringement where damages would be capped at USD 15,000 per claim and USD 30,000 in total.
The establishment of the Copyright Claim board is for the benefit of the creative middle class who deserve to protect and benefit from their labor. The CASE Act will enable creators to enforce copyright protected content in a fair, timely and affordable manner.
Under the bill, cases would be decided by a three-judge panel of subject matter experts within the Copyright Office, who would adjudicate only straightforward cases of alleged copyright infringement. Moreover, the Copyright Office would monitor the process to ensure that it is not being used as a harassment tool.
This bill provides victims of copyright theft, especially the small creators, with affordable legal recourse. Litigation in Federal Court is expensive which means that only big songwriters backed by large publishers have legal recourse.
US Court Declares Use of Picasso’s Works Fair Use
An appellate French court’s USD 2.2 million judgment against a U.S. art editor, Alan Wofsy, was refused enforcement by U.S. District Court on the grounds of fair use, protected under the First Amendment.
Initially the French court had decided on the matter stating the use of Picasso’s pictures in the publication as promoting the U.S. policy of free speech and criticism, teaching, scholarship, and research.
The District court, referencing to the said judgement has recognized the difference between French and U.S. law and that the publication in question is protected by the First Amendment in terms of protecting freedom of speech and artistic expression.
USD 10 million Right of Publicity Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook and Reddit
Fox 29 News, Good Day Philadelphia’s anchor, Karen Hepp has filed a suit against Facebook and Reddit, Imgur, Giphy and WGCZ after her image was used for “prurient and illicit purposes” in sexually-oriented ads and posts. Karen claims this unauthorized use of her likeness damages her professional reputation and is seeking damages worth USD 10 million and an injunction that requires the sites to remove the images.
The question of whether websites should be held liable for the content they host has once again reared its head. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states that websites aren’t responsible for user-generated content. But, Hepp could sue the person who posted the photo and also, if the website operators posted the image or the ad, she can take them to court.
According to Hepp’s legal team, she maintains an exclusive entitlement to control the commercial value of her name and/or likeness and to prevent others from exploiting it without permission.
Netflix Partners with Dharmatic Entertainment
Karan Johar’s digital venture Dharmatic Entertainment has partnered with Netflix to produce original fiction and non-fiction content, which will be scripted and non-scripted. This follows the massive success of Karan Johar’s collaboration with Netflix, for the movie ‘Lust Stories’.
The content created through this partnership will be directed not just at Indian audiences but also towards Asian audiences at large. Compared to films, producing content for a platform like Netflix, will not be as restrictive and daunting for the Director and this will give him more freedom to exercise his creativity and directorial skills.
Spotify Acquires SoundBetter
In a bid to help musicians expand their source of income, music streaming platform Spotify has recently acquired SoundBetter, a music production marketplace. SoundBetter helps artists, producers and musicians and other people who are looking to distribute music tracks, to connect with those who want to license them. SoundBetter has about 180,000 registered users and has paid out more than USD 19 million to musicians and producers to date, averaging around USD 1 million per month currently. The platform earns revenues by taking a commission (of an undisclosed percentage) on each deal secured through the platform.
After this acquisition, SoundBetter will continue to operate in the same manner and under the same name, only now it will be a part of Spotify, which currently has 232 million users, including 108 million Spotify Premium subscribers. This is Spotify’s second attempt at acquiring a music distribution platform, as it earlier it had initiated a deal with DistroKid, but the effort never left the beta phase and it was eventually shut down. This deal with SoundBetter signifies Spotify’s commitment towards improving the financial situation with regard to earnings, for artists and other’s associated with the music industry.
Disney to Sell Gaming Division
Disney is currently looking to move out of the gaming division after generating huge amount of revenue through the FoxNext games division, which was founded in 2017. FoxNext Games is best known for its free-to-play mobile title Marvel Strike Force, which earned USD 150 million in revenue during its first year and more than USD 175 million overall with 22 million downloads. The company also is working on games based on big IP like Avatar and Aliens.
While the senior executives at FoxNext believe the gaming division to be a third pillar in addition to film and television, Disney however believes that it should restrict its development within the gaming sector only to licensing its current IP. With regard to developing games, Disney has suffered some losses in the past, the big one being with its game Disney Infinity, which resulted in the massive drain of financial resources for the company. As a precaution, Disney has decided to focus its resources only towards licensing activities for games, thereby minimizing financial risks and increasing its revenue.
Authored and compiled by Ashwini Arun, Neharika Vhatkar and Snehaja Rana (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
The Entertainment Law News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the Entertainment Law and Consulting/Strategy Divisions of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with the subject: Ent Law News.
Disclaimer: Please note that the news bulletin has been put together from different sources, primary and secondary, and BananaIP’s reporters may not have verified all the news published in the bulletin. You may write to [email protected] for corrections and take down.