‘Bala’ Infringement Suit, No Political Ads at IPL, IPRS License to YouTube, and more

Director Files A Suit Against Makers of ‘Bala’, Delhi Health Director Asks Centre to Restrict Tobacco Ads at Filmfare, No Political Ads During IPL 2019, Music Publishers Sue Peloton, Universal Music Wins ‘Generic Lyric’ Copyright Infringement Suit, Court Dismisses $4 Million Award Against Zillow , RNC Fends Off Copyright Infringement Claim Filed by Montana Photographer, Discovery India Partners with Dailyhunt for Short-form Content, Google Obtains IPRS License for YouTube, Facebook Signs Music Deals with T-Series, Zee and YRF , Hotstar Gets IPL Broadcast Rights in UK , Angry Birds Maker Rovio Overhauls Merchandise Licensing, and more.

Copyright Quote

“Every film must be assessed through the eyes of the contemporary, Intelligent, Informed Spectator with a distracted mind, and not the outdated, innocent, gullible Spectator of the past. The rapid progress of entertainment technology and the emergence of novel modes and means of content distribution obviate the need for censoring public exhibition of films”
― Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala

National News

Director Files A Suit Against Makers of ‘Bala’
Bollywood director Kamal Kant Chandra has filed a suit alleging plagiarism in Bombay High Court against the makers of the movie ‘Bala’ and lead actor Ayushmann Khurrana. He claims that he had narrated the story line to Ayushmann on the sets of Barielly ki Barfi, wherein Ayushmann had shown an interest in his story but did not respond further.  He claims to be shocked to see recent media reports for the upcoming movie ‘Bala’, which is based on the story he had narrated. Having received no response to the legal notices sent to the producers, Kamal has filed this suit claiming copyright infringement of his story.
Delhi Health Director Asks Centre to Restrict Tobacco Ads at Filmfare
In view of the upcoming Filmfare Awards, the associate director of the Delhi Health Department, Dr S K Arora, has written a letter to the Union Health Ministry, the Maharashtra public health department and the organisers of the Filmfare Awards to “stop the advertisement, promotion and sponsorships” of tobacco brands in the 64th edition of the awards to be held on 23rd March 2019 in Mumbai. He has stated that any such advertisement and promotion of Tobacco products is a clear violation of the law. He has advised that restraining tobacco promotions can save the youth from addiction to tobacco products. He has also expressed his disappointment at being unable to prevent the advertisement of tobacco products during a cricket match between India and Australia earlier this month.
No Political Ads During IPL 2019
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has declined to grant Star India permission to run political advertisements during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019. As the dates for the 2019 edition of the IPL overlap with the dates for the Lok Sabha elections, broadcasters may have been looking to cash in on political advertisements. Star India had requested BCCI to waive off a clause prohibiting the broadcast of political and religious advertisements. However, the BCCI has prohibited all broadcasters from airing political or religious advertisements during a bilateral, international or domestic tournament held under the BCCI banner.

International News

Music Publishers Sue Peloton
Luxury exercise brand Peloton has found itself in the midst of a whopping $150 Million copyright infringement suit. The brand, known to offer luxury exercise equipment and over 13,000 workout videos, has been featuring a wide collection of music in its videos, without prior permission from the artists concerned. The brand offers a subscription service, with music contributing significantly to the brand’s business model. The publishers suing for copyright infringement include various members of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). These infringed videos have music featuring a number of artists such as Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and many others. Although the company has obtained permission from a few music publishers, it has failed to do so for a majority of others.
Universal Music Wins ‘Generic Lyric’ Copyright Infringement Suit
Earlier in 2017, singer-songwriter Alissa Apps had filed a suit for copyright infringement against Universal Music Group and British singer John Newman. According to Apps, the music company and the pop star had blatantly ripped off the lyric “I need to know now” from her song “Need to Know” and used it in Newman’s track “Love Me Again”. At first the US District court had ruled that the singer/songwriter failed to submit direct evidence of copying as she was unable to prove UMG’s and Newman’s “access to her work”. Additionally, she failed to show substantial similarity between both songs. This week, an Appellate Court has agreed with the lower court’s decision. The panel said – “The only lyrical commonality between both songs is the phrase ‘I need to know now. [These] lyrics are not original to Apps.  [Universal] showed that at least 11 songs predating Apps’ song included this common phrase. The court has gone on to state that the exclusive copyright in a sound recording does not extend to a recording of other sounds, ‘even though such sounds imitate or simulate those in the copyrighted sound recording, therefore quashing the matter.
Court Dismisses $4 Million Award Against Zillow
Earlier this week, the people over at Seattle-based real estate company Zillow breathed a sigh of relief as a Federal Appeals court threw out a $4 million award against the company. The suit, which began in 2015, found leading real estate photography studio VHT alleging copyright infringement by Zillow for unauthorised use of its pictures. In a judgement, a federal jury awarded $8 million in damages to VHT, which a judge later cut in half. In an appeal against the award, a three-judge panel overturned that award and sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Seattle for further proceedings related to a smaller group of photos.
RNC Fends Off Copyright Infringement Claim Filed by Montana Photographer
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has managed to convince a judge that its use of a photographer’s image for criticism against a Democratic party candidate constituted fair use. Back in 2017, Montana-based photographer Erika Peterman was hired to be the official photographer at Democratic party candidate Rob Quist’s campaign rally. Quist is often known to perform musical numbers in his campaigns and on one such occasion, Erika managed to capture a picture of Quist facing the crowd wearing a cowboy hat. This image was later licensed by Peterman to Quist’s campaign. The RNC then altered this image adding sentences intended to mock and criticise the campaign. Although the court said that the crop and lighting changes made to the image did not constitute a ‘transformative work’, the text added alongside the picture used Quist’s musicianship to criticize his candidacy, subverting the purpose and function of the work, and therefore was transformative. This decision has upset several photographers and copyright advocates around the country. Erika Peterman has stated that she will not appeal the decision, due to the obvious difficulty in convincing the court of the same issues again.

Licensing and Merchandising News

Discovery India Partners with Dailyhunt for Short-form Content
Discovery Communications India has entered into a multi-year partnership with leading news and content app Dailyhunt. Discovery’s short-form content will be made available on a video destination titled Discovery Plus on the Dailyhunt app. Discovery is known for providing factual entertainment and will be creating customised video content curated for the Indian audience. The videos will include multiple genres such as outdoor, wildlife, food, science and military and will be available for viewing in five languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. This partnership will help Discovery get a foothold on the digital domain in India, leveraging 153 million monthly userbase of Dailyhunt platform. Remarkably, within 9 days of the launch, the Discovery Plus section has received more than 50 million views and more than 4 million unique users. Dailyhunt, on the other hand, will get to showcase the extensive content library and upcoming titles of Discovery. This partnership will bring exclusive content to the Indian audience and also provide scalable monetisation for the two companies.
Google Obtains IPRS License for YouTube
The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) has issued a license to Google to allow the company to utilise and showcase its members’ musical content on the tech giant’s platform. IPRS, a representative body of owners of music, including composers, lyricists and the publishers of music, is the sole authorised body to issue licenses to permit use of its members’ music within India. Christophe Muller, Global Head of Music Licensing, expressed an ongoing commitment to ensuring fair payments to writers, composers and publishers. Javed Akhtar, Chairman of IPRS, has termed this licensing deal a milestone for Indian authors, music composers and publishers. This licensing deal is sure to bring more value to songwriters and artists, deliver a strong experience to music fans in India, and provide benefits to creators and members of IPRS in a tangible and meaningful way.
Facebook Signs Music Deals with T-Series, Zee and YRF
Facebook has partnered with T-Series, Zee Music and Yash Raj Films to allow its users to share music through videos, messages and stories on both Facebook and Instagram. Back in December 2017, Facebook had signed a multi-year deal with Universal Music Group to license its recorded music for video and other content on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Oculus. Once again, in May 2018, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify inked a deal allowing users to share Spotify albums, tracks, artists, and playlists directly to Instagram Stories, with promised integration for Facebook Stories. It is interesting to note that Facebook’s deals with these music labels comes at a time when Spotify and YouTube Music have both launched in India in the last month.
Hotstar Gets IPL Broadcast Rights in UK
The VIVO IPL 2019 official broadcaster in the UK, Sky Sports, will no longer be showcasing live matches on TV. With a considerable number of English players joining in, there is a sizable UK audience who enjoy watching the world’s richest cricket tournament. Sky Sports subscribers have been informed that the league will not be broadcast on its channel for 2019. Star Gold UK and streaming platform Hotstar will now be showcasing the matches, which would require English fans of the tournament to shell out GBP 11.99 for a one-month subscription. The world-renowned tournament is all set to begin on March 23rd 2019.
Angry Birds Maker Rovio Overhauls Merchandise Licensing
Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment Oyj has indicated its intent to completely transform its licensing program and turn Angry Birds into a dependable, long-term brand. Ahead of the release of ‘The Angry Birds Movie 2’, the Finnish mobile game maker has extended deals with merchandise producers and also planned a regular flow of new content. With this renovation, Rovio seeks to incorporate continued, steady activity that is not focused on one single event.  As the new movie starring Peter Dinklage as the voice of Mighty Eagle is all set for its release, shops in roughly 100 countries will be stocked with merchandise from plush toys to T-shirts and from Crocs sandals to Chupa Chups lollipops. Rovio has altered the way it licenses its brand, ensuring that unapproved or inferior-quality products don’t slip through the process to shops and tarnish its reputation.
Author: BIP’s Copyright and Entertainment Law Attorneys
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.
If you have any questions, you may write to BIP’s Copyright and Entertainment Law Attorneys – [email protected]

Leave a comment