Copyright and Entertainment Law series posts: 2014


Dear Sinapse Readers (entertainment and copyright law enthusiasts),

In 2014, the authors of Sinapse got together to bring to its readers analytic data in the form of ‘Series’ posts. We have put together all the entertainment and copyright law related information for you, so that you’re able to assimilate all of it at one go! But don’t stop there. Read the whole thing if you want to be thoroughly informed:

1. Licensing & Merchandising in Copyright Law

Merchandising is an extension of a brand into new categories. Any merchandise is created by securing license of different Intellectual Properties such as themes, images, songs or dialogues of a film, characters etc. (entertainment and copyright law). It is in the past decade that Movie Merchandise and Character Merchandise has gained popularity in India. According to the industry reports, global licensing & merchandising is a huge business with its top 125 licencors accounting for sales amounting to more than US$ 184 billion. Licensing (entertainment and copyright) in India started roughly about 10 years ago with the establishment of an organised retail sector after the 1991 economic reforms. It is said that retail chains like Shoppers Stop and Future Group played a significant role in creating a market where young and aspiring India could splurge and indulge in products that add to their personality. 

2. Intellectual Property Protection for Computer Programs

A computer program is an intellectual creation and can be protected by Intellectual Property (IP) Law, particularly by Copyright and Patent Laws. The manner of IP protection for computer programs is a hot topic of debate, primarily due to the fact that current IP regimes are not effective in dealing with their protection comprehensively. There is a lot of ambiguity with regard to their protection because of the technical complexities in computer programs and the difficulty in integrating them with existing IP laws. 

3. Mode of Assignment & Licenses – Copyright Assignment & Licenses

Copyrights, like any other Intellectual Property Rights are considered a part of Property Rights and hence can be transferred just as corporeal properties. This transfer of ownership under Copyright Law happens in three different ways; first, by executing an Assignment deed; Second, by executing a License Agreement; and third, by transmission of rights by way of operation of law. In this post, I will analyze the concept of Copyright Assignment and the relevant legal provisions with respect to Assignment of Copyrights in India. 

4. Personality Rights in India

Intellectual Property (IP) has been continuously evolving. It is now not restricted to just categories like Patents, Trademark, Designs and Copyrights. Judicial activism has widened the scope of (entertainment and copyright) IP to cater to new forms of protection, one such addition is “Personality Rights”. Personality Rights are made up of two kinds of rights: the Right to publicity and the Right to privacy. The Right to publicity which is usually attributed to celebrities or famous people is of great importance to the entertainment and media field. Right to Publicity means the right to control commercial exploitation of one’s successful personality and prevent others from riding on the fame associated with his/her persona. This right stems from the Right to privacy and vests only in individuals who are ‘famous’ or those who might be understood by the public as having a reputation or goodwill that is capable of being commercially exploited. A person’s persona includes his/her name, photograph, signature, voice or any other mark of identity.

5. Assignment & Royalty – Part II: Notes on Copyright Amendment, 2012

One of the primary purposes of the Copyright Amendment in 2012 was to ensure that authors get their well deserved consideration. The focus was primarily on authors, who create works for feature films (entertainment and copyright law). Other authors, unfortunately, received little or no attention. After making sure that producers do not take away ownership rights by signing ‘work for hire’ engagements, the amendment made changes to provisions in the copyright laws with respect to assignment in Section 18. 

6. Ideas, Concepts, Scripts & Stories – Protecting Ideas in the Entertainment Industry (Entertainment Law)

An idea may be defined as a thought, which cannot be seen, touched or heard. In other words, an idea is entirely intangible in nature (copyright law). Ideas can be kept secret or commercially exploited, but to gain protection, they need to satisfy the threshold of originality and novelty. Even though ideas act as catalysts for various Intellectual Property protections (entertainment and copyright law), by themselves, they are not qualified to obtain protection. Since an idea, taken at face value, does not fulfill the requirements of protection, it allows more than one person to create work (tangible) based on the same idea. Entertainment and Copyright Infringement occurs only when an expression of an idea by one person is copied by another. A long standing principle is that Copyright Laws protect the expression of ideas and Patent Laws protect inventions. Both these tools that protect ideas necessitate the idea to take a material form or a fixed embodiment. Unless an idea, regardless of how good or bad it is, is expressed in a tangible form, it cannot be protected. In other words, expressions are what qualify protection under the Copyright Law. So, how then, are ideas that do not meet this requirement, protected? 

7. Music Licensing (entertainment and copyright law)

Music licensing means transfer of exclusive or non – exclusive rights to use a piece of music which sometimes may be a complete song, a snippet of a song or an entire album or an entire repertoire for a set period of time, for a fee. Music licensing deals can take several forms, but generally all deals dictate the presence of a licensing fee, an expiration date of the licensing agreement, and terms specifying where and how the licensee can use the licensed music. These licenses are taken by various commercial entities such as television broadcasting organisations, radio stations, digital platforms, restaurants, bars, discotheques etc. In the olden days, authors, composers and copyright owners collected performing right royalties as a norm for operas and similar stage works; but for shorter works which were often performed publicly, thousands of times a day, at all sorts of entertainment programs around the world, some special method of tracking had to be devised. 

Image: from here (Governed by Creative Commons License CC0 1.0)