Weekly Copyright News: Madras HC Lifts TikTok Ban, Complaint Against ‘Mental Hai Kya’, and more
Madras High Court Lifts Ban on TikTok App; Indian Psychiatric Society Files Complaint Against ‘Mental Hai Kya’; Piracy Lead to Increase in My Fan Base in China: Aamir Khan; Kalank Leaked on Tamilrockers Soon After Release; US Court: Site Owner Not Vicariously Liable for Developer’s Infringement; Photographer Sues McGarryBowen and Clorox for Copyright Infringement; MTVA to Sue Dutch Political Party for Copyright Infringement; EFF Intervenes in Stream-Ripping Court Battle; Game of Thrones Episode Leaked and Viewed 55 Million Times in 24 Hours Before Release; Bumblebee Movie Helps Boost Hasbro; ‘Spiderman: Far From Home’ Collaborates with Doritos for Worldwide Promotions; Eros Now Collaborates with TCL for Online Content Streaming, and more
“Why should it be that just when technology is most encouraging of creativity, the law should be most restrictive?” ― Lawrence Lessig
Madras High Court Lifts Ban on TikTok App
On April 24, 2019, the Madras High Court lifted a ban it had earlier imposed on the popular short-video app TikTok. The amicus curiae appointed by the court stated that that TikTok was an intermediary and was protected by the Indian Information Technology Act’s intermediary guidelines. This decision follows a direction from the Supreme Court of India to make a final determination on the ban. The interim ban had resulted in the Central Government ordering the Google Play Store and Apple App Store to remove the app from its offerings. The ban, which had been imposed due to concerns of child pornography and cyberbullying, did not affect users who had already downloaded the app on their devices. TikTok owner ByteDance has stated its continued commitment to making the app safer, and has reportedly removed over 6 million harmful videos and introduced an age-gate which only allows users over the age of 13.
Indian Psychiatric Society Files Complaint Against ‘Mental Hai Kya’
Ekta Kapoor’s upcoming movie, ‘Mental Hai Kya’, starring Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao, has received objections from the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) with respect to its title. The IPS has written to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Prime Minister’s Office, stating that the title of the movie is discriminatory, stigmatizing, degrading and inhuman in projecting mental disorders. According to IPS, 1/4th of the Indian population suffers from mental illness and continues to face numerous hurdles. The IPS contends that the current title is inappropriate as it creates a negative impression about mental disorders and propagates existing myths instead of educating people.
IPS has claimed that the trailer showcases persons with mental illness as a joke, violating the rights of persons with mental disorders, and as such has filed a complaint with the CBFC requesting for a change in the title and the removal of all such sequences from the film.
Piracy Lead to Increase in My Fan Base in China: Aamir Khan
Well-known Bollywood actor, director and producer, Aamir Khan, made an appearance in the Belfast Film Festival in Ireland on 16th April, 2019. During a conversation with his fans, he mentioned that his films went viral in China even before they were released due to piracy, which also played a major role in increasing his fan base in China. He claimed he found that 3 Idiots had become a huge success in China, though it hadn’t been released there, as it was available on pirated websites, and stated that, “suddenly all of China had seen 3 Idiots. So I really have to thank piracy for my stardom in China”.
Kalank Leaked on Tamilrockers Soon After Release
‘Kalank’, one of the biggest releases of 2019, was made available online on the Tamilrockers platform soon after its release. The Dharma Productions film, starring Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha and Aditya Roy Kapoor was released last week. The immediate leak of the movie may have contributed to some degree to its poor performance at the box office, where it has failed to recover the reported Rs. 80 crore budget so far.
US Court: Site Owner Not Vicariously Liable for Developer’s Infringement
In a copyright infringement suit (Erikson Productions Inc v. Kast) involving the use of copyrighted images by a website developer, a US appellate court has held that the owner of the website is not vicariously liable for the developer’s actions. The case involved the use of infringing photographs by a website developer hired by the defendant, Kast. The court held that vicarious liability requires both control and direct financial benefit, and this benefit should be something other than the financial gain from mere non-payment of license fee.
The court clarified that willful infringement requires actual knowledge (knew), willful blindness (knew and ignored) or recklessness (did not bother to find out), and thus cannot take place where the defendant is merely negligent (or “should have known”). The question of the standard of knowledge required for willful infringement was found to be central enough to order a new trial on this issue, as it was central to determining the amount of statutory damages that could be awarded.
Photographer Sues McGarryBowen and Clorox for Copyright Infringement
Renowned animal portraits photographer Jill Greenberg has filed a suit against advertising agency McGarryBowen and consumer product maker Clorox for using her copyrighted images beyond the intended scope. Greenberg had shot a picture titled ‘Cats on Glass’ and was later contacted by McGarryBowen and Clorox to enter into an agreement to use her images for Fresh Step cat litter. The initial contract only included the usage of the images for in-print, out-of-home, product packaging, and retail display over two years. McGarryBowen and Clorox flouted this agreement by using the image in their video adverts as well as featuring it in controlled interviews and local TV broadcasts. The photos also showed up in a segment earlier this year on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” and was used as marketing material in collaboration with social media influencers. The complaint lists all those uses as infringements, along with distribution of the photos as downloadable art or mobile wallpaper to reward members of Fresh Step’s Paw Points loyalty program, which amounts to using the image for merchandising. Greenberg has stated that she has issued the infringers a cease and desist notice last November but received no response.
MTVA to Sue Dutch Political Party for Copyright Infringement
The Hungarian public media company MTVA will soon file a complaint against the Dutch political party GroenLinks for using their copyright-protected material without prior permission. The material has been featured in the party’s video titled “The Sargentini Report: A European struggle for democracy in Hungary”, which is based on Judith Sargentini, the Dutch MEP who last year compiled the report on the rule of law in Hungary. MTVA claims that the video contains several counts of their archived footage. MTVA also alleges that the makers of the video covered up the logos of the Hungarian public media channels they had obtained the footage from, which proved that their actions were deliberate. According to Hungarian and European media laws, use of copyrighted content without permission or a license agreement amounts to infringement. MTVA states that it has suffered a financial loss due to the uncited use of its material, and since copyright infringement is subject to criminal liability, it will file a criminal complaint in the matter.
EFF Intervenes in Stream-Ripping Court Battle
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has submitted an amicus brief to the US Court in support of FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, the Russian stream-ripping sites, which are facing an infringement suit filed earlier this year by the American music industry. The judgement in the matter upheld the argument put forth by Tofig Kurbanov, the operator of FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, who contended that the two sites are based in Russia, and have no direct business relationship with any US users. He argued that only a very small percentage of their users are based in the US, and no sign-up is required to rip a stream. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) appealed that ruling, arguing that it set a dangerous precedent. Kurbanov later approached the Appellate Court asking to uphold the original decision. Recently, the EFF has come out in support of Kurbanov on both the copyright infringement and jurisdiction points. It has submitted to the court that, like nearly every technological tool in the world, video converters like FLVTO and 2conv have both legal and illegal uses, and simply providing a tool for copying digital media does not give rise to infringement liability”.
Game of Thrones Episode Leaked and Viewed 55 Million Times in 24 Hours Before Release
The first episode of the highly anticipated final season of Game of Thrones was leaked just 24 hours before its slated release. The analytics company MUSO has revealed how the long-awaited season eight premiere was pirated just under 55 million times within the first 24 hours alone. It was noted that over 10 million of the views came from India, where there is limited access to HBO. Another 5 million views came from China, which happens to broadcast only censored episodes. A surprising 4 million views came from the USA, home of HBO. Viewers have resorted to piracy either due to hindered access to the show or to avoid paying for a premium TV service.
Licensing and Merchandising News
Bumblebee Movie Helps Boost Hasbro
The release of the anticipated Bumblebee movie during the Christmas season has substantially boosted Hasbro Inc.’s profits for the year’s first quarter. The box-office success of the ‘Transformers’ franchise spin-off is a welcome change for the company. Bumblebee was the first film to come out of Hasbro’s partnership with Paramount Pictures in a long time. The film is a break from the action-heavy Transformers and introduces the franchise to a whole new generation of children. Since the film was a Christmas release, all the merchandise based on the film reached store shelves in January, re-igniting the buzz around the film. Hasbro’s success comes as children now have shown spirited interest in video games and toys based on social media trends as opposed to G.I. Joe action figurines and Barbie Dolls. The company has found a footing after its losses of USD 112 million last year, following the bankruptcy of ‘Toys R Us’.
‘Spiderman: Far From Home’ Collaborates with Doritos for Worldwide Promotions
The latest film from the ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ series awaits a highly anticipated global release. In tune with the excitement surround the release of Spiderman: Far From Home, Doritos will release a global marketing campaign in over 35 countries. The fully integrated global Doritos promotional campaign will include on-pack design, in-store displays, TV creative, unique digital content and sweepstakes. This campaign is in tune with the true global theme featured in the latest film. Doritos packaging in markets across North America, Latin America, Egypt and Asia will feature exclusive and thematic images from the film. In over 20 countries, the latest packaging will feature the superhero’s signature red colour. Additionally, In North America, the “Spidey-Sense Challenge” will allow fans to participate in an online game where users playing Spider-Man will run a series of web-shooter training courses in various cities featured in the Spider-Man: Far From Home film. The movie is slated for an early July 2019 release.
Eros Now Collaborates with TCL for Online Content Streaming
TCL Electronics has announced a partnership with entertainment platform Eros Now, which features over 12,000 digital titles across Bollywood movies, TV Shows and music content. TCL’s range of home entertainment products come with several state-of-the-art features such as a Google-certified Android system, Harman Kardon speakers, micro-dimming technology, voice search, and Chromecast built-in. Apart from Eros Now, TCL has collaborated with leading global and regional content providers such as ZEE5, Voot, Hotstar, Hungama, Jio Cinema, Alt Balaji, YuppTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
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.
The weekly copyright and entertainment law news initiative is a part of their pro bono work, and is aimed at spreading entertainment law awareness. You are free to share the news with appropriate attribution and backlink to the source.
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