Script Writer Sues Paramount; Travis Scott Settles Infringement Suit for USD 20 Million; Jerry Seinfeld Wins Over Time Barred Infringement Claims; Facebook Blocks Links to The Pirate Bay; Iranian Music Streaming Site Blurs Out Images of Female Artists; Delhi HC Orders Facebook and Google to Remove MeToo Posts; Bombay HC Provides Relief to IMPAA and more.
Script Writer Sues Paramount
Joe Carlini, a script writer has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a California court against major production house Paramount Pictures, screenwriters and other associated entities. Carlini has alleged that some ideas in the 2019 movie “What Men Want” were stolen from a script that he had written in 2015 titled “What the F Is He Thinking?”, and that he had presented his script to a few production companies and some actors as well, but nothing materialised then.
Carlini claims to have noticed some major similarities between his own script and the movie which include both of the women leads falling and hitting their heads after partying, and waking up in the hospital with the ability to hear men’s thoughts. He also claims that both leads wind up losing their power after hitting their head. For this alleged infringement, Carlini is seeking a portion of the USD 72 million grossed by “What Men Want”.
Travis Scott Settles Infringement Suit for USD 20 Million
Travis Scott has settled a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against him by a member of the band Three Six Mafia, claiming that Scott’s “No Bystanders” song was similar to their 1997 song “Tear Da Club Up”. The suit claimed that the chant in Scott’s song had a “cadence and sound” that was very much like the one on “Tear Da Club Up.” The suit also cited the that when Scott performed “No Bystander” at the 2019 Grammy Awards, he changed the lyrics of the song to those used in “Tear Da Club Up.”
After this suit was filed by Paul, Scott decided to settle the matter amicably, paying a compensation of USD 20 million, and giving writing credits to DJ Paul and the other 3 members of Three 6 Mafia, Crunchy Black, Juicy J, and Gangsta Boo.
Jerry Seinfeld Wins Over Time Barred Infringement Claims
A copyright infringement lawsuit filed against renowned comedian Jerry Seinfeld for his popular talk show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, was dismissed by a New York court. The court found that the suit was time-barred, and that Christian Charles, who filed the suit, had missed the three-year window within which copyright infringement claims are required to be filed.
The court stated that Charles’ ownership rights had been repudiated since 2012, though he had communicated the dispute to Seinfeld in 2017 when Netflix acquired the rights to the show. However, Charles ultimately filed the suit only in 2018, which in the court’s opinion was three years too late, and also resulted in the dismissal of his joint authorship claims.
Facebook Blocks Links to The Pirate Bay
Facebook has announced that it will now block its users from sharing links to The Pirate Bay, which is notorious for hosting a massive, user-maintained index of torrents to pirated movies, TV shows, music, and software, among other things. As torrenting itself is not considered illegal, Pirate Bay has been able to circumvent the law by distributing file downloads across a variety of users, instead of users downloading entire files directly from the website. This process, known as ‘seeding’, also enables rapid file downloading without any one user footing the bandwidth bill.
When users attempt to share torrent links, the prompt on Facebook states that the torrent links are against its community standards for “Respecting Intellectual Property”. Facebook has applied similar restrictions and error prompts to other torrent sites as well.
Iranian Music Streaming Site Blurs Out Images of Female Artists
Melovaz, an Iranian music streaming website, has been accused by several people across social media platforms for completely erasing female artists from their own album covers. Famous female singers including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and Lana del Rey were among the many obscured or completely removed from their album covers. On some of the album covers, while the female artists’ images were removed, the images of the male artists were kept untouched.
These edits are essentially a result of the religious sentiment that runs across the country thus imposing harsh restrictions on women’s self-expression, especially in music, that are institutionalized in Iran under Islamic law. As per the law in the country it is illegal for women to be seen uncovered and this law seemingly also applies to women who do not practice Islam or do not even reside in the country. In spite of the restrictions put on the images of the female artists, Melovaz, however, continues to stream the actual songs as is, including the ones that contain certain explicit lyrics.
FBI Seizes, Shuts Down iStreamItAll
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had seized the domain iStreamItAll in a bid to shut down the website for allegedly running a pirate streaming service. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has revealed that eight people were indicted for running Jetflix and iStreamItAll, which offered over 100,000 movies and TV episodes to customers, and claimed to have more customers than Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.
Similar cases of piracy were dealt with in civil courts through lawsuits, however in this particular case multiple criminal charges of criminal copyright infringement and money laundering have been levied. The final decision of this case in the light of the criminal charges, could determine the manner in which such future piracy cases are dealt with in the United States.
Delhi HC Orders Facebook and Google to Remove MeToo Posts
The Delhi High Court has ordered social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Google, to take down the news links and other posts containing sexual harassment accusations against leading Indian contemporary artist, Subodh Gupta. Sexual harassment allegations against Subodh Gupta were posted on Instagram by an unnamed co-worker, and followed by a revelation of a series of such incidents by several other women.
In response, Subodh Gupta has filed a civil defamation case stating that the allegations were false and malicious and claimed damages from the operator of the anonymous account from which the posts were made. These posts were then re-published on Facebook and other online platforms which gave it more traction. The court found that these allegations were published without verifying their factual and legal validity. In its order, the court has annexed a list of 18 URLs of various news websites that carry this news and has specifically asked Google to delist/block such links from its database. Facebook has also initiated the takedown procedure of the posts from Instagram and also agreed to provide the court with details of the person/entity running the Instagram handle.
This case brings to light the subject of viewing web portals as ‘intermediaries’ as per Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which limits the liabilities of such entities and also focuses on the notice and take-down regime. Earlier, this regime required an intermediary to take down objectionable content from its website upon acquiring ‘actual knowledge’ from any affected person. However, since the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shreya Singhal case, ‘actual knowledge’ of an intermediary has been held to mean notice by a judicial or governmental order, specifically requiring the intermediary to disable such content.
Bombay HC Provides Relief to IMPAA
The High Court of Bombay recently passed an order in favour of the Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPAA), allowing sub-titles to be added into a film even after the film is certified. In holding thus, the court dismissed a 2017 notice issued by the Central Board for Film Certification in India (CBFC) which stated that all the applicants must submit an undertaking along with the application clearly stating whether subtitles are included in the movie and no sub-titles will be added once the film is certified by CBFC.
This issue of post-certification subtitles arises frequently for film producers, as films are often exhibited in languages or regions other than the one in which the film is produced. According to the earlier notification of the CBFC, in order to include sub-titles in an already certified film, the producers would have had to present the film afresh to the CBFC, which could be time consuming and expensive for the producers. The recent order passed by the Bombay High Court is likely to come as a relief to such producers, who can now include sub-titles in films even after the CBFC certification and will not have to delay inter-regional releases for certification of the sub-titles.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar and Ashwini Arun (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.