Latest Indian Copyright Cases – 2021 – Part 1

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1. Sony Pictures Network India Pvt. Ltd. vs. www.sportsala.tv And Ors., High Court of Delhi, CS(COMM) 289/2021

In this case, Sony Pictures filed a suit against  numerous defendants primarily praying for a  permanent injunction against reproducing, making available, distributing, broadcasting, and so on of  the cricket matches between India’s tours of England and Sri Lanka. During the pendency of the suit, Sony Pictures prayed for an interim injunction asking for more or less similar reliefs.

The Court  granted an injunction in favour of Sony Pictures  against websites including their redirects, mirrors and alpha-numeric versions. A dynamic injunction was also granted against rogue websites, which may reproduce, broadcast, make available, communicate to public or distribute the cricket matches. The Court also passed an order asking ISPs to block the mentioned and other rogue websites, and asked Government of India to give appropriate directions to prevent infringement of copyrights of Sony Pictures in the matches.

The interim injunction also covered MSOs and cable operators, and local commissioners were appointed to monitor and act against violations of the Court’s orders. The Court’s orders primarily cover the copyrights held by Sony Pictures, and   by implication permits non-infringing uses and fair uses of the content pertaining to the cricket matches between India and England/Sri Lanka.

A copy of the order may be accessed here.

2. Krishna Kishore Singh vs. Sarla A. Saraogi & Ors., High Court of Delhi, CS(COMM) 187/2021

In this case, the Delhi High Court refused to grant an interim injunction against publication and release of films purportedly related to Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) as the plaintiff, SSR’s father failed to make out a prima facie case, and because irreparable harm and balance of convenience were in favour of the defendants. The plaintiff in the case argued that films and series such as ‘NYAY The Justice,’ ‘Suicide or Murder,’ and ‘Shashank,’ must be injuncted and restrained from being released, published and communicated to the public. The plaintiff filed the case on several grounds including violation of publicity rights and privacy rights, right to fair trial, defamation, and violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

After reviewing the facts and relevant cases, the Court came to the conclusion that the plaintiff failed to make out a valid case for violation of celebrity or publicity rights of SSR or his family members because the plaintiff was not aware of the content of the films, the defendants were not using SSR’s image, likeness or name, and because the films had appropriate disclaimers. It also pointed out that celebrity rights may not subsist after the death of the celebrity, and that facts that form part of the public record may be used by the defendants without liability. About defamation, the Court stated that a case of defamation is merely speculative without access to the defamatory content.

The Court also pointed out that no violation of the right to fair trial may be contemplated because of publication in news or by way of films. It went on to note that freedom of expression prevails over Article 21 for information that forms part of the public record. While denying the injunction, it asked the defendants to render accounts as any damage may be compensated by way of damages.

A copy of the order may be accesses here.

3. Dassault System Solidworks Corporation & Anr. vs. Spartan Engineering Industries Pvt. Ltd. Anr., High Court of Delhi, CS(COMM) 34/2021

In this case, the Delhi High Court has dealt with the issue of copyright infringement of software. Plaintiff no.1 is a French company which has developed a software called ‘Solidworks’. This software facilitates modelling and development of products in a three-dimensional environment. Plaintiff no.2 is a sister concern established by Plaintiff no.1 to manage all its affairs with respect to ‘Solidworks’ in India.

Plaintiff no.1 and Plaintiff no.2 (“Plaintiffs”), state that the software was developed by their employees as work for hire, and hence the copyright therein belongs to the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs claim that the software program and its instruction manuals are literary work under the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act) and is entitled to copyright protection. The software was first published in the United States of America (US) and is entitled to protection in India under Section 40 of the Copyright Act as India and the US are members of the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention and the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS Agreement.

The Plaintiffs allege that in May 2018, the Plaintiffs received information regarding the commercial use of pirated and unauthorised versions of the ‘Solidworks’ software program by the Defendants, without paying the required  license fee. The Plaintiffs further asserted that such unauthorized use of the software had increased since August, 2020 and all efforts to reach an amicable resolution were futile, as the Defendants were denying infringement.

Following this, the Plaintiffs approached the Court seeking an injunction, as use of any pirated or unauthorised copy of the Plaintiffs’ software program would amount to copyright infringement under Section 51 of the Copyright Act. The Plaintiffs also relied on Section 63B of the Act, which makes it a criminal offence to knowingly use a pirated computer program. Further, the Plaintiffs asserted that, there has also been a contractual infringement and intellectual property infringement, due to the violation of the End User License Agreement by the Defendants.

While issuing the order, the court remarked that, “Software infringement is a serious issue, and deserves to be nipped in the bud”. The Court granted the Plaintiffs an ad interim ex-parte injunction, restraining the Defendants from using, reproducing and distributing any pirated or unlicensed or unauthorized software programs owned by the Plaintiffs and also from formatting their computer systems and/or erasing any data, pertaining to assisting others to infringe the Plaintiffs’ copyright.

A copy of the order may accessed be here.

Read Latest Copyright Cases in 2021 – Part 2 here


Authored and compiled by:

Neharika Vhatkar (Associate, BananaIP Counsels)

Case Briefs contributed by:

Ashna Shah (Legal Intern): Case 3

Updates on recent orders and judgments are 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 contact@bananaip.com  with the subject:  Copyright Judgments

Disclaimer: Please note that these case updates have been put together from different sources, primary and secondary, and BananaIP’s reporters may not have verified all the decisions published in the bulletin. You may write to contact@bananaip.com  for corrections and take down.

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