Sony in Copyright Battle over Comedian’s Voice, ‘Proud Boys’ Founder McInnes Banned from YouTube, City Merch and Balenciaga Settle Copyright Suit, Mötley Crüe Photo Lands Spotify in Court, Fortnite Sued for Swipe Dance Move, Novel Promotions for ZERO before December 21 Release, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Most Streamed Song of the 20th Century, Priyanka Chopra Collaborates with Ivanhoe Pictures for Upcoming Film ‘The Sky is Pink’, Netflix Houses 19 of Top 20 Most-Streamed Series, Sony Partners with ACT Fibernet.
COPYRIGHT QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I believe in copyright, within limited precincts. But I also believe in fair use, public domain, and especially transformation” –David Shields
INDIAN COPYRIGHT STATISTICS
There is a decrease of 7% in the total number of copyright applications filed last week as compared to the previous week. A total of 391 applications were filed for copyright registration during the last week. The majority of applications were filed for literary works and artistic works.
|S. No||Type of Work||Number of Applications filed in the Past Week
(26th November 2018 to 02nd December, 2018)
|Number of Applications filed in the Recent Week
(03rd December 2018 to 09th December, 2018)
|1.||Literary Work||232||195||37||Decrease of 16%|
|2.||Musical Work||3||3||–||No change|
|3.||Artistic Work||122||128||206||Increase of 5%|
|4.||Cinematograph Film||1||3||2||Increase of 200%|
|5.||Sound Recording||21||14||7||Decrease of 33%|
|6.||Software||40||48||8||Increase of 20%|
|Total||419||391||28||Decrease of 7%|
INDIAN COPYRIGHT NEWS
Sony in Copyright Battle over Comedian’s Voice
On 22nd November 2018, Sony TV sent a legal notice to famous comedian Raju Srivastava for infringing Sony TV’s copyrights by posting a video clip from reality game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) 10 on his official Facebook page. The show had used a sound clipping of Raju Srivastava’s voice and the contestant was asked to guess the name of the celebrity. According to Mr. Srivastava, he felt honoured that mega star and host of the show, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan had used his name, due to which he posted the KBC 10 clipping. In his reply notice Mr. Srivastava stated that he had not commercially exploited the content and Sony TV should have taken permission from him before playing his voice on the show. He further instructed Sony TV to provide an unconditional apology and Rs 40,00,000 damages within 15 days of receiving the notice. Mr. Srivastava is reportedly planning to now file a criminal case against Sony for copyright infringement, defamation and for mental harassment, if Sony TV does not comply with his demands.
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT NEWS UPDATE
‘Proud Boys’ Founder McInnes Banned from YouTube
After facing bans from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Gavin McInnes’ YouTube channel was shut down this week due to multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement. McInnes is the founder of the far-right group Proud Boys, and his YouTube channel had more than 200,000 subscribers. This follows the termination of his employment as host for BlazeTV, less than a week after he joined. With this he has lost all social media platforms, likely due to the groups’ white supremacist, racist, violent associations over the past year. He has previously targeted certain religious groups and boasted of the need for violence. McInnes believes the ban to be a conspiracy to de-platform him, as it was the last place for him to defend and tell his side of the story. YouTube is yet to confirm if the ban is permanent but it is interesting to note that his ban was not for violations of Terms of Service as related to Hate Groups.
City Merch and Balenciaga Settle Copyright Suit
Earlier this year, NY-based souvenir wholesalers City Merchandise, Inc. had filed a copyright infringement case against French fashion house Balenciaga over designs of their New York City souvenir tote bags. The suit states “Based upon its dubious reputation in the fashion industry for appropriating the work of others, as well as public statements attributed to Mr. Gvasalia (the Creative Director), it should not be surprising that Defendant has copied Plaintiffs Design in connection with the infringing Products and is passing it off as its own”. A Balenciaga spokesperson however asserted that the claims are invalid as the image of NY buildings, Empire State or Statue of Liberty are elements that are scenes a faire, meaning standard, stock or common in general or, as in this case, in relation to a particular place. The parties have now settled the case out of court, under confidential terms. Balenciaga also has another copyright infringement case for Car-Freshner Corporation’s tree design, currently underway in a New York court.
Mötley Crüe Photo Lands Spotify in Court
On December 7, photographer Neil Zlozower filed a suit against digital music streaming platform Spotify Ltd., for allegedly using his photograph of American heavy metal band Mötley Crüe for the band’s artist page without his permission. The photographer had reportedly sued the band themselves for the unlicensed use of his images on tour merchandise in 2016. He claims that the infringement was wilful, and is seeking damages and profits obtained from the use or statutory damages upto $150,000, or actual damages and costs attributable to the use of his photograph. Earlier this year Spotify settled another class action suit where a fund of $43.5 million will be set up to compensate song writers and publishers for the use of their compositions without permission.
Fortnite Sued for Swipe Dance Move
Rapper 2 Miley has filed a suit against Epic Games, Inc. for alleged copyright violations by using the rappers’ dance moves or emotes in their game Fortnite Battle Royale. The immensely popular and free game with over 140 million users worldwide, gets its revenue from in-game purchases including emotes. Rapper 2 Miley’s viral ‘Milly Rock’ move, renamed as ‘Swipe it’ in the game, can be purchased for $10 in the Season 5’s ‘Battle Pass.’ His representatives have also spoken out against the culture of large companies using moves created by African-American artists. The rapper has also proposed that Fortnite put actual rap songs behind the dances they sell and give artists their due credit.
The US Copyright Act provides protection for ‘choreographic works’, but both the US Copyright Office and the courts have previously stated that individual movement, dance steps or short dance routines cannot be copyrighted. Nonetheless, 2 Milly has prevailed through public opinion, which led to Epic withdrawing the move ‘Swipe It’ from the game. This increases the likelihood of him receiving some compensation through a settlement agreement.
MERCHANDISING AND LICENSING NEWS
Novel Promotions for ZERO before December 21 Release
Red Chillies Entertainment have collaborated with Amazon Alexa for the upcoming movie ZERO. This collaboration makes it the first film to develop an interactive Alexa skill as part of its promotional activities. Users in India can now access Shah Rukh Khan’s character Bauua Singh’s voice on their Amazon Echo smart speakers and other Alexa built-in devices to listen to jokes, anecdotes or shayaris narrated by Bauua, in addition to trailers, dialogues, trivia and a chance to win movie merchandises. The producers have also tied-up with instant messaging app WhatsApp by introducing special GIF’s and stickers featuring the film’s characters, again making it the first Bollywood movie to do so.
The producers have even started a marketing campaign with Mumbai Duty Free stores called ‘Pay Zero’ with the stores engulfed in movie posters, life size cut-outs of the actors and various theme based visual props. The offers include exclusive merchandise, discounted movie tickets, shopping gift cards and a chance for the winners to meet the cast.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Most Streamed Song of the 20th Century
Universal Music Group announced on December 10 that British rock legends Queen’s iconic 1975 hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the most streamed song from the 20th century. The song has overtaken Nirvana’s grunge anthem ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘November Rain’ by Guns N’ Roses. The 1970’s band has sold-out tours since 2012 with singer Adam Lambert and have been re-popularized due to the release of frontman Freddie Mercury’s biopic earlier in November. Universal also represents Queen’s global merchandizing, retail licensing and brand management.
Priyanka Chopra Collaborates with Ivanhoe Pictures for Upcoming Film ‘The Sky is Pink’
‘Crazy Rich Asians’ producer Ivanhoe Pictures is set to co-produce and co-invest in the much anticipated Hindi movie ‘The Sky is Pink’, based on the true story of the young motivational speaker Aisha Chaudhary and her family. The movie marks Priyanka Chopra’s return to Bollywood after a Hollywood-hiatus, and also stars Farhan Akhtar and ‘Dangal’ star Zaira Wasim. The film, set to release mid-2019, is directed by National Award winner Shonali Bose and produced by Siddharth Roy Kapoor’s production house Roy Kapur Films and Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP.
Ivanhoe Pictures has previously co-produced the popular Netflix horror series Ghoul, starring Radhika Apte, and is reported to be developing local language content in India with Blumhouse Productions.
Netflix Houses 19 of Top 20 Most-Streamed Series
Digital Media Company TV Time released the top 20 most-watched streaming series across all OTT (Over the Top) Media Platforms for 2018, based on a poll of more than 12 million global registered users. The list, which measured all series watched from January 1 to December 6 2018, was led by 13 Reasons Why and Money Heist. Interestingly only one out of the 20 i.e Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is not available on Netflix. End of the F***ing World and Money Heist were both popularized after Netflix’ acquisition of the series, and foreign-language originals DARK and Elite also made the list, demonstrating the influence of Netflix in digital streaming. A TV Time spokesperson stated that the results provide real evidence of how widespread and dominant Netflix is in global OTT viewing due to its significant regional investments in foreign-language content and other licensing partnerships. It produced or acquired 700 new or exclusively licensed TV shows from approximately 21 countries gaining 7 million global subscribers just in the last quarter. Apple and WarnerMedia are set to release their own OTT service next year, and will be the likely competitors to Netflix.
Sony Partners with ACT Fibernet
India’s largest fiber-focused wired broadband ISP, ACT Fibernet announced a partnership with entertainment service providers SonyLIV to provide subscription of Sony’s content on all of its broadband plans to its 1.28 million customers. Sony is one of most widely watched OTT Platforms in India and backed by ACT’s broadband speed and seamless streaming, which feeds on the current increasing OTT content demand of the users.
An assignment of copyright, or transfer of copyright ownership, is effective only if documented in an agreement. Oral assignments will pose problems of validity.
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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