Weekly Copyright News: EC Issues Notices to TV Channels, Stalls Modi Biopic; Twitter Removes Trump Tweet; GoT Final Season Merchandise, and more
Filmmakers Issue Notice to Sunil Shetty for Interfering in Daughter Athiya’s Film, PVR Approaches SEBI against Screwvala Tweets, EC Issues Notice to Zee TV and &TV for Promoting Govt Schemes, EC Stalls Release of Modi Biopic, Twitter Removes Trump’s Video Citing Copyright Infringement, Rappers TeeFlii and 2 Chainz Face Copyright Infringement Charges, Reddit to Mass Delete Content from Piracy Thread, Vodafone Ireland to Follow ‘Three-Strike’ Policy for Infringers of Copyright, Viacom’s Pluto TV Scores 700 Hours of Content in Latest Deal with BBC Studios, Amazon Looks to Expand Latest Video Streaming Product, Cinepolis Hosts India’s First Movie Marathon, Game of Thrones Creators Make the Most of Final Season, and more.
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”
― United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Filmmakers Issue Notice to Sunil Shetty for Interfering in Daughter Athiya’s Film
Rajesh and Kiran Bhatia, producers of the upcoming movie Motichoor Chaknachoor starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Athiya Shetty, have issued a notice to actor Sunil Shetty. Sunil Shetty was said to be interfering in the movie because his daughter Athiya Shetty’s was playing a leading role in the film. In the notice, producers Rajesh and Kiran Bhatia have made it clear that they are the final decision-making authority on every aspect and or/every project of M/s Woodpecker Movies Pvt Ltd. The notice has made it clear that Sunil Shetty has to stay away from the sets of Motichoor Chaknachoor or such act shall be considered as trespassing and breach of confidentiality at its own risk, cost and consequences”.
PVR Approaches SEBI against Screwvala Tweets
PVR Cinemas has filed a complaint before market regulator SEBI, alleging that a tweet by filmmaker Ronnie Srewvala contains false and misleading statements. Screwvala had filed complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), alleging that multiplex operators, including PVR are charging higher Virtual Print Fee (VPF) from producers for exhibiting their films. VPF is a charge levied from film producers for exhibiting their movies by digital cinema service providers. He later tweeted that “four large multiplex operators allegedly earn around Rs 400 crore from VPF in a year”. PVR has alleged that his tweet misled analysts and stock market investors, and artificially made the PVR stock price volatile. In response, Screwvala has stated that his statements are not malicious or defamatory,
EC Issues Notice to Zee TV and &TV for Promoting Govt Schemes
Based on a recent complaint by the Congress party against shows like Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hain and Tujhse Hai Raabta, the EC has issued a notice to channels Zee TV and &TV. The complaint alleges that these shows praised government schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Ujjwala Scheme and other similar schemes. The complaint states that this amounts to indirectly promoting BJP government and thus violates the code of conduct. The TV channels are required to respond to the notice at the earliest.
EC Stalls Release of Modi Biopic
The biopic film, PM Narendra Modi, starring Vivek Oberoi which was to be released on April 11, has faced multiple complaints and severe criticism from various quarters. On April 10, the Election Commission stalled the release of the movie stating that it would disturb the level playing field during elections if released during poll time. However, the producers have defended the film saying it had no links to BJP and that they had put in their personal money for the making of the film.
Twitter Removes Trump’s Video Citing Copyright Infringement
Once again, Twitter has taken action against Donald Trump’s infringement of copyrights. Earlier last week, a video was posted from Trump’s official Twitter account which contained promotional material surrounding his 2020 re-election campaign. The video had used the backdrop of Hans Zimmer’s “Why Do We Fall?”, the 11th track from The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack. The producers of the clip had not acquired the rights to use the song resulting in Warner Bros., the producer of the Batman Trilogy movies, filing a copyright claim over the infringing material. Not long after, Twitter took down the video from Trump’s official account for violating the site’s policy to protect copyrighted material. Notably, this is only the second time that Twitter has decided to take action against Trump’s account. In the past, Trump’s account had featured several materials that flouted Twitter’s content violation policies with no repercussions whatsoever. The platform had earlier claimed that, by removing controversial tweets, it would be hiding important information provided by a world leader.
Rappers TeeFlii and 2 Chainz Face Copyright Infringement Charges
Artists TeeFlii and 2 Chainz have been caught up in a copyright infringement case worth over $10 Million in damages. Music composers Allen George and Sten Hallström, alias StoneBridge, claim that the rappers along with producers DJ Ketchup and DJ Mustard have willfully copied their track from 1993. The track ‘Back it Up’, produced and released by Robin S. in 1993, has been altered and used in the rappers’ 2014 hit single ’24 Hours’. The composers claim that ’24 Hours’ uses a dominant theme, derived from ‘Back it Up’ and that the rappers merely made minor modifications in the tempo. The composers also believe that the infringement was willful considering that Robin S. is a well-known American singer and songwriter. Allan George and StoneBridge have also named Sony Music as a defendant and are claiming in excess of $10 Million for the willful infringement.
Reddit to Mass Delete Content from Piracy Thread
Reddit’s /r/piracy subreddit is facing mass deletion of a decade’s worth of content that carries copyright infringement charges. The /r/piracy subreddit has been the go-to place for information regarding download links, streaming sites and even direct links to copyrighted material. The site has begun the deletion process and has spared only content that is less than six months old. In March, the subreddit was issued a warning from Reddit authorities to either clear up all copyright infringing content or be ready to have a majority of the content deleted. Although the subreddit space can be used to discuss piracy, Reddit has a strict rule against actually posting copyright infringing material. Reddit allowed for the moderators to indulge in a voting process to either takedown the infringing content or risk losing the subreddit. Considering the sheer number of infringing materials, it would not be possible to contest every single copyright claim. Hence, the vote favoured the content purge to keep the subreddit platform intact.
Vodafone Ireland to Follow ‘Three-Strike’ Policy for Infringers of Copyright
Vodafone Ireland has announced its intention of imposing the ‘three-strikes’ policy that has been used by Internet Service Providers for over a decade. According to the new regime, pirates of copyrighted content will now be issued a warning that will alert them of their infringing acts. The warning will be issued to the infringer a total of two times. These communications will strictly take place between the network and the user. If the infringer commits an act of piracy for the third time, their personal details would be forwarded to the copyright holder, thereby ending all anonymity. After this, the owner of the copyright can decide whether they wish to pursue the issue legally. In an article published last year, the Irish Times had reported that piracy rates had gone down drastically since the introduction of the ‘three-strikes’ policy. Rates have dropped from 43% in 2008 to 18% in 2013 and now 10% as of 2018. The decline in piracy goes on to show that the very threat of revealing an infringer’s personal identity could be sufficient to tackle the issue at hand.
Licensing and Merchandising News
Viacom’s Pluto TV Scores 700 Hours of Content in Latest Deal with BBC Studios
Viacom’s Pluto TV has inked a licensing deal with BBC Studios and will now stream over 200 episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ in addition to many other BBC programs. Viacom acquired the free, ad-supported platform earlier last year, which increased its viewership to 15 million. The latest deal will cover a total of 1000 episodes – amounting to over 700 hours of content. Apart from Doctor Who, the platform will also feature other programs like Antiques Roadshow, Being Erica, Bedlam, Primeval and Robin Hood. Pluto TV also plans to launch additional channels to showcase Doctor Who and Antiques Roadshow.
Amazon Looksto Expand Latest Video Streaming Product
In January, Amazon released IMDB FreeDive, a free, ad-supported platform primarily available on IMDB.com and Fire TV devices. Amazon is now looking to offer more news and entertainment content licensed from other media companies, excluding original content from Amazon Prime Video. Amazon’s plans could pose a significant threat to Roku, which is also an ad-supported video content platform. Amazon stands at an advantage, given its bigger budget and higher advertising costs. Although Roku will have a good idea of what its viewers are interesting in watching, Amazon knows what its viewers are looking for, shopping and buying online – which proves to be very valuable data. With this data, Amazon’s data collection methods would allow for a stronger monetization of ad-supported video, when compared to Roku. Currently, Amazon is most likely to incentivize customers to buy the Fire TV Stick, which will eventually contribute to an increase in Prime Video Memberships.
Cinepolis Hosts India’s First Movie Marathon
Cinepolis theatres will be hosting India’s first movie marathon and screening the most popular Marvel films. This movie marathon has been planned considering the upcoming release of the highly anticipated ‘Avengers: End Game’ – the finale of the Marvel Avengers film series. The marathon is scheduled to start on 25th April at 8:00 a.m. and will be showcased across four cities – Delhi, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai and Pune. The marathon includes the nine films considered most essential to the storyline of Avengers: Endgame. The first hundred fans are also slated to win Disney Merchandise. This marathon is akin to similar strategies followed by theatres worldwide, especially for franchises like Star Wars, which bring together fans across generations and give theatres a heathy profit.
Game of Thrones Creators Make the Most of Final Season
In light of the upcoming final season of the massive hit show Game of Thrones, the creators of the series are making the most of the fandom and hype surrounding it. The past decade has proven the power of merchandising – in terms of the sheer volume of goods released that were based on the show. Considering the roaring buzz around the upcoming release of the final season, brands are rushing to market more products based on the hit TV series, and have created interesting collaborations. Bud Light had showcased their ad at the prestigious Super Bowl half-time, which depicts Bud Knight – paying sacrifice to famous strongman The Mountain. On the other hand, Shake Shack has introduced a ‘secret’ Game of Thrones menu in New York, which has items that customers can avail only if they order them in Valyrian. Mountain Dew has also released a limited range of cans that, when cold, reveal the names on Arya Stark’s Kill List. Other brand partnerships include – special edition Game of Thrones Oreos, a limited-edition sneaker collection by Adidas, a 11-piece collection with the luxury menswear brand John Varvatos, and a makeup collection by Urban Decay, inspired by the women of Westeros. The creators hope that the merchandising efforts can create a more lasting connection with the characters, and possibly pave the way for spin-offs and other ventures.
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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