Weekly Copyright News: EC Notice to Makers of Modi Film, EU Approves Copyright Directive, Nike Wins ‘Jumpman’ Suit, AI Music, and more
EC Issues Notice to Makers of film ‘PM Narendra Modi’, Kesari Leaked Online One Day After Release, PUBG Mobile Users Receive ‘Healthy Reminder’, EU Approves New Copyright Rules, Peloton Removes Workout Videos as USD 150 Million Suit Looms, PUBG and NETEASE Settle “Battle Royale” Copyright Lawsuit, Nike Wins ‘Jumpman’ Copyright Infringement Suit, Record Labels Sue Charter for Non-Action Against Music Pirates, Spotify Acquires Parcast to Expand Original Podcast Content , Warner Music Signs Deal for AI-produced Music, and more.
I oppose piracy and want to see intellectual property protected because that is what fosters and rewards innovation.
– Jared Polis
EC Issues Notice to Makers of film ‘PM Narendra Modi’
The Delhi Chief Electoral Office has recently issued notices to the producers of the film ‘PM Narendra Modi’ and two other leading newspapers for publishing advertisements of the film. The Office has said that it has given the makers of the biopic time till March 30th to respond to the notice. The movie, set to be released on April 5th, allegedly violates the model code of conduct. Any political advertisement circulated on electronic media or social media has to be pre-certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee. The official said that the circulation of any pre-certified political or surrogate advertisement is a violation of the model code of conduct. Whomsoever has done it is given an opportunity to explain their stand. The Returning Officer has also suggested that the Election Commission of India (ECI) formulate guidelines for political movies released during elections. Various opposition parties have objected to the release of the film, stating that the film is an attempt to woo voters and therefore should classify as campaign material.
Kesari Leaked Online One Day After Release
Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra’s latest release ‘Kesari’ has been leaked just one day after its nation-wide release. The notorious torrent website TamilRockers has leaked the entire movie on its page. The website had earlier leaked other high-profile releases including ‘Uri-The Surgical Strike’, ‘Thugs of Hindostan’, and ‘Manikarnika’. Kesari is a war saga directed by Anurag Singh and released during Holi on March 21st. The film gathered a box office collection of Rs. 21.5 Crores on its opening day, surpassing many other hit releases of the year such as ‘Gully Boy’ and ‘Captain Marvel’. The release of the film on the torrent website is likely to affect its total box office revenue.
PUBG Mobile Users Receive ‘Healthy Reminder’
Many PUBG Mobile users were extremely confused and furious after receiving health reminders. Users said that, in the midle of a game, they received a notification which warned them that they had been playing for six hours – and hence had been locked out of the game for the day. On 22nd March, several users shared screenshots of the notification that popped up on their phones which read – “You’ve played the game for 6h today. Please come back at 2019-03-23 05:30:00”. Many users reported that they had received the reminder even though they had played for less than three hours. In a tweet, PUBG Mobile India stated that it was aware of the “Healthy Gaming System” issue that many users were facing, and apologized for the inconvenience. It also stated that the development team was working to find a ‘reasonable solution’ to the issue. PUBBG has already been banned in a few cities in India.
EU Approves New Copyright Rules
The European Parliament has approved the latest Copyright Directive for online platforms, holding them liable for user uploaded content, and excluding materials such as memes, GIFs and hyperlinks to news articles. This Directive ensures that internet platforms are directly liable for user uploaded content resulting in copyright infringement. Additionally, news publishers will have the right to negotiate deals on behalf of their journalists for news stories used by news aggregators. The Directive also protects the uploading of protected works for quotation, criticism or review, which means that GIFs and memes will continue to be shareable. Non-commercial platforms such as Wikipedia and open source software platforms, such as Github, will not be affected by the Directive. On the other hand, start-up platforms, in contrast with established ones, will be subject to less stringent obligations. The regulation aims to apply copyright law to the digital age and to ensure that the internet remains a space for freedom of expression. If the Directive is approved by the member states, they will have two years to implement the new rules.
Peloton Removes Workout Videos as USD 150 Million Suit Looms
Earlier this month, fitness technology company Peloton was sued for a massive amount of USD 150 Million. National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), on behalf of over 10 different music publishers, filed a suit against Peloton for the unauthorised use of several songs in its music-intensive workout videos. In a bid to undo the damage, Peloton has reached out to its subscribers with a letter from Founder and CEO, John Foley. The letter addresses the suit and urges the members to not cancel their membership in light of the current situation. Additionally, Foley has revealed that the company has agreements in place with all major publishers, record labels, and performing rights organizations and that these agreements will allow Peloton to provide its members a broad catalogue of music that the instructors can choose from to program great classes. Peloton is in the process of removing videos which contain unlicensed music from its platform.
PUBG and NETEASE Settle “Battle Royale” Copyright Lawsuit
Back in 2018, PUBG Corp. the maker of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, had filed a suit against NetEase Inc. in a US court. PUBG Corp had sued NetEase for copyright infringement, unfair competition, and trade dress infringement, alleging that the games ‘Knives Out’ (KO) and ‘Rules of Survival’ (ROS) were illegal clones of PUBG. In its suit, PUBG claimed that NetEase has unlawfully copies PUBG’s Battlegrounds game in each version of its ROS and KO games and introduced these games to the marketplace at or below cost. Additionally, PUBG argues that the overall look, feel, and audio-visual style of both NetEase games closely mimicks PUBG. In response to the same, NetEase argued that a single company cannot monopolize the entire “battle royale” genre, calling PUBG’s suit a “shameless attempt” to use copyright law to monopolize the battle royale genre and block real competition. In a counterstatement, PUBG dismissed the attack on PUBG’s complaint as baseless. PUBG has stated that it only seeking to protect its creative expression of unique and distinctive elements within its BATTLEGROUNDS game. Recently, PUBG and NetEase have settled the entire litigation and are in the process of dismissing the lawsuit. This case had raised an interesting question courts of the extent to which copyright law could protect video games against knock-offs. With the outcome of this case remaining confidential, it will be some time before this questions has any satisfactory answers.
Nike Wins ‘Jumpman’ Copyright Infringement Suit
Nike has come out victorious in an infringement suit, with the court upholding the originality of the infamous ‘jumpman’ logo. In 1984, photographer Jacob Rentmeester had snapped a picture of Michael Jordan mid-flight for Life Magazine, while the sport star was at the University of North Carolina. The photo depicts Jordan trying to dunk the basketball into the net with his legs split mid-air and the ball just touching his fingertips. Rentmeester had articulated thisballet-inspired pose to portray Jordan’s appearance of weightlessness and power. Later on, as Jordan was signed on to the NBA and subsequently as a brand ambassador of Nike, this photo was re-created by the sportwear brand with different lighting and props but still substantially retaining the famous pose. Nike eventually used this as the basis of their Air Jordans logo – a campaign that became immensely successful and lucrative. The photographer filed a suit in 2015 claiming that the composition elements of his staged photo should be protected. Rentmeester ultimately lost the suit and subsequent appeal. If the US Supreme Court had heard the matter, it would have helped to clarify which elements of a photograph should be protected by copyright.
Record Labels Sue Charter for Non-Action Against Music Pirates
Major music labels including Warner, Sony, and Universal Music are suing telecom company Charter Communications for not preventing music pirates from using its service. The record labels allege that Charter knowingly contributed to, and reaped substantial profits from, massive copyright infringement committed by thousands of its subscribers. It was revealed that Charter was notified of its subscribers downloading music through BitTorrent and other services but had refused to terminate their accounts. The complaint also alleges that Charter did not terminate accounts, in order to retain its subscriber base and maintain revenues. The suit also alleges that Charter promoted piracy simply by advertising high download speeds, which enable subscribers to ‘download just about anything instantly.’ The music labels seek damages that include Charter’s profits from maintaining these accounts.
Licensing and Merchandising News
Spotify Acquires Parcast to Expand Original Podcast Content
Following its February acquisition of Gimlet and Anchor, Spotify has stayed true to its commitment to acquire more original content for its growing podcast audience. Spotify has announced its acquisition of podcasting studio Parcast, known for its true-crime and other factual serials in genres like mystery, science fiction, and history. Parcast has produced 18 podcast series so far and has already clocked over a million hits, reaching the top-ten rank on iTunes’ podcast charts. Bootstrapped start-up Parcast is hoping to scale up its business with the backing of Spotify, while also helping Spotify diversify its offering beyond music. With this acquisition, Spotify too is likely to appeal to a wider user base, develop new revenue streams, and boost its plans of developing original content.
Warner Music Signs Deal for AI-produced Music
Warner Music has recently signed a deal with little-known start-up Endel, to distribute tracks created by the Endel algorithm. Endel has used its algorithm to create 600 short tracks on 20 albums, which Warner Music is then putting on streaming services, returning a 50 / 50 royalty split to Endel. However, Endel received no advance payments, and has also retained ownership of the master recordings, thus distinguishing it from standard distribution deals. Dmitry Evgrafov, Endel’s composer and head of sound design, has said that he made all 600 “soundscape” tracks with the “click of a button.” Endel also differs from other tools currently available to musicians, as it makes the finished product instead of only engineering sound. Warner is looking to monetize the “context playlist” space, which provides listeners with targeted soundtracks like piano, ambient sounds, and others.
Author: BIP’s Copyright and Entertainment Law Attorneys
Led by Sanjeeth Hegde, Senior Partner, the entertainment law attorneys at BIP are among the well-known lawyers in the field. They work with clients such as Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, Ananda Audio, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh, and Arka Media (Producer of Bahu Bali). BIP’s entertainment law team helps clients protect, manage and effectively license and merchandise their creative works such as films, music, brands and other content, to maximize financial returns.
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