Court Gives ‘Mission Mangal’ the Green Signal, Copyright Infringement Suits against P&G and Lady Gaga, Amazon to Acquire Stake in Future Retail, and more
‘Mission Mangal’ Gets Green Signal from Bombay High Court, Modi Government Plans to Ask YouTube to Pull Down Trailer of ‘Lynch Nation’, Upcoming Bollywood Release Batla House Faces Legal Trouble, RIAA Finds Widespread Infringement Through Online Retailers, Composer Sues P&G for Use of Whistle Tune in Old Spice Ads, Singer Accuses Lady Gaga of Copying Award-Winning Hit ‘Shallow’, Columbia University Sues for Ownership of Encyclopedia Iranica, Bundesliga and Athletia Partner Up to Tackle Piracy, Amazon to Acquire Stake in Future Retail, Alibaba Aims to Acquire NetEase’s E-Commerce Arm Kaola, Amazon Launches Marketplace Appstore for Sellers, and more.
‘Mission Mangal’ Gets Green Signal from Bombay High Court
The Bombay High Court has allowed the release of the upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Mission Mangal’, refuting claims of plagiarism by US-based filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj. She had filed a suit in November 2018 claiming copyright infringement and seeking a stay on the release of the film and a compensation of Rs. 90 lakhs. She claimed that she had registered her work, Space MOMs, based on the contributions of women engineers towards India’s mission Mangalyaan mission to Mars. However, the Bombay High Court found discrepancies in her case, stating that the similarities she pointed out between her screenplay and the trailer of ‘Mission Mangal’ were insufficient to make out a case of copyright infringement.
Modi Government Plans to Ask YouTube to Pull Down Trailer of ‘Lynch Nation’
‘Lynch Nation’, a crowd-funded documentary based on recent incidents of lynching in India, is facing resistance from the Union Government, which is trying to prevent the release of the film or at least take down its trailer from YouTube. The documentary takes a hard-hitting look at the lives of people directly affected by the wrath of self-proclaimed cow-vigilantes and the political support which has allowed the perpetrators to escape unscathed. The documentary has been made available online through the video platform Vimeo, and has also been screened at several invite-only events. However, the government views these as public screenings, and claims that the film-makers’ failure to obtain a certification from the CBFC violates the Cinematograph Act. Various government departments, including the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting, Electronics and IT, and Home Affairs, are reported to be considering approaching YouTube to take down the trailer. The government has the authority to direct online platforms as well as private television networks to block or restrict the airing of content.
Upcoming Bollywood Release Batla House Faces Legal Trouble
The makers of the Bollywood movie, ‘Batla House’ slated to release on Independence Day 2019, is mired in two separate legal controversies. The widow of a police inspector martyred in the ‘Operation Batla House’ encounter on which the film is based, served a legal notice to the filmmakers. She claimed that the facts of the incidents have been twisted to suit the plot of the film and she would continue to fight the legal battle to uphold the sacrifice made by her husband. In another case, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court by one of the accused of the encounter praying for postponement of the release as it was prejudicing his trial, and by another person whose appeal was pending before the Delhi High Court. The court disposed of the petitions requesting a delay in the release following a consensus between the parties, in which the film-makers agreed to delete scenes depicting confessions, bomb-making and actual Delhi Police. The film is also required to feature additional disclaimers stating that the movie is not a documentary, and does not endorse the views of either side.
RIAA Finds Widespread Infringement Through Online Retailers
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has submitted a letter to the US Department of Commerce highlighting its findings and suggestions on several issues including the counterfeiting and piracy of goods via third-party marketplaces and irregularities in rules for mobile applications and traditional websites. The RIAA has suggested that third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay should be encouraged to share names and contact information of possible infringers, and requested clarity on when intermediaries may be accountable for acts carried out by sellers of counterfeit and pirated goods. The organisation expressed particular concern regarding the sale of unauthorized music recordings by large retailers, which included premium-priced box sets of artistes’ entire repertoires.
Composer Sues P&G for Use of Whistle Tune in Old Spice Ads
Composer H. Scott Salinas has filed a lawsuit in a California court alleging that Procter & Gamble (P&G) illegally copied and used his tune in commercials for its Old Spice brand. He alleges that P&G used the tune beyond the term of the license without making any retrospective payments, and thus infringed his copyright. In addition to these claims, he has also alleged trademark violation as the similarity in P&G’s tune may confuse the public as to the origin of the tune. Alleging that P&G obtained a trademark in this tune by falsely representing to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that P&G held all rights in the tune. the lawsuit seeks to cancel P&G’s trademark registration. The suit has also named ad agency Wieden & Kennedy as a defendant, and seeks compensation for the non-payment of royalty.
Singer Accuses Lady Gaga of Copying Award-Winning Hit ‘Shallow’
Singer-songwriter Steve Ronsen has accused Lady Gaga of copying the musical progression of his song ‘Almost’ that he uploaded on SoundCloud in 2012. Lady Gaga’s representatives have characterized these claims as an opportunistic attempt to capitalize on the success of ‘Shallow’, and are preparing to fight them. The musicologists hired by both parties appear to agree that the musical progression employed by both songs has existed for a long time. Given the timing of Rosen’s claims, it is likely that he is encouraged by the USD 2.8 million award against singer Katy Perry.
Columbia University Sues for Ownership of Encyclopedia Iranica
Columbia University has filed a lawsuit in a New York court accusing the Encyclopedia Iranica Foundation (EIF) of falsely claiming to be the copyright owner of the Encyclopedia Iranica, a scholarly resource on Persian and Iranian history. Late historian Ehsan Yarshater founded the Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University in 1968 and later started the EIF to fund his work. Columbia alleges that EIF began to list itself as the “claimant” on copyright applications for the work since 2003, and also requested Columbia to transfer all its copyright ownership in the work to EIF. Columbia University is seeking a declaration that EIF is not the owner of the copyright registrations or trademarks.
Bundesliga and Athletia Partner Up to Tackle Piracy
Starting this season, the German Football League (DFL) is teaming up with rights protection company Athletia to detect piracy. The two organisations have set up the joint venture Ryghts, to monitor all international illegal streaming of games from the Bundesliga, Germany’s top club soccer league. This is the first time DFL has enlisted a single service provider to detect piracy, and looks to develop services for professional football as well as other sports leagues. Protection from illegal distribution of valuable content is a crucial factor in the economic success of a sports organization and its media partners, and DFL sees direct control of protection entities as its new strategy in consolidating broadcast rights.
Amazon to Acquire Stake in Future Retail
American e-commerce giant Amazon is in the final stages of a deal to acquire a stake of 8-10 percent in Indian retail chain Future Retail. This deal, which is Amazon’s third investment in traditional retail, would give it an edge over its competitors like Flipkart in the Indian retail market. However, the deal seems to have been delayed by the adoption of the new FDI Rules and eCommerce Policies earlier this year. The new rules prohibited online marketplaces from selling products of companies in which they hold a stake, and also prohibited exclusive marketing. Additionally, the rules also consider the inventory of a vendor as being controlled by the marketplace if more than 25 per cent of the vendor’s purchases are from the marketplace entity, including the latter’s wholesale unit.
Alibaba Aims to Acquire NetEase’s E-Commerce Arm, Kaola
Chinese e-Commerce leader, Alibaba, is about to take over Kaola, NetEase’s cross-border e-Commerce wing. Alibaba plans to merge the units with its Tmall International platform, thereby consolidating the Chinese e-Commerce market. Tmall and Kaola represented over 50% of China’s cross-border e-commerce market in the first quarter of 2019. The valuation of the deal has been reported to be $2 billion. This is the second attempt made by a company to acquire Kaola, following an attempt by Amazon earlier in 2019 which fell through due to a failure to reach final terms.
Amazon Launches Marketplace Appstore for Sellers
The Amazon Marketplace Appstore has been recently launched by Amazon to give sellers access to third party apps to improve their business on the Amazon e-commerce platform. The Appstore has apps relating to tax issues, inventory and order management along with a rating system for the sellers to help them run their business better. The Appstore is accessible exclusively through the Seller Central platform, and gives sellers access to apps from India and around the world.
Authored and compiled by Ashwini Arun, Anusmita Mazumder and Snehaja Rana (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
The Entertainment and eCommerce Law News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the Entertainment Law, eCommerce 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.
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