Changes in Thackeray Biopic, Infringement at New Year’s Events, case against Jennifer Lopez, Mattel Loses Rights to DC Toys and More

Film Producers Move High Court against Illayaraja in Copyright War, PPL Moves Bombay High Court Anticipating Copyright Infringement at New Year’s Events, TRAI: No Blackout of Subscribed TV Channels in New Framework, Censor Board Demands Changes in Thackeray Biopic, Spotify Settles $1.6 Billion Infringement Suit, Bar Sued for Copyright-Infringing Karaoke, Wynn Resorts Sues Genting over Hotel Design, Jennifer Lopez Sued for Posting Own Photo, Mattel Loses Licensing Rights to DC Toys, Marvel Signs Merchandising Deals for New Spider-man Movie and China Resumes Commercial Approval for Video Games.


“Copyright promotes creativity by proscribing the Right to Copy” – Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala


There is a decrease of 33% in the total number of copyright applications filed last week as compared to the previous week. A total of 288 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
(10th December 2018 to 16th   December, 2018)
Number of Applications filed in the Recent Week
(17th December 2018 to 23rd    December, 2018)
Change Percentage Change
1. Literary Work 215 182 33 Decrease of 15%
2. Musical Work 4 5 1 Increase of 25%
3. Artistic Work 163 70 93 Decrease of 57%
4. Cinematograph Film 4 2 2 Decrease of 50%
5. Sound Recording 6 11 5 Increase of 83%
6. Software 41 19 22 Decrease of 53%
Total 433 288 145 Decrease of 33%


Film Producers Move High Court Against Illayaraja in Copyright War

Six producers from the Tamil film industry have filed a suit in Madras High Court, seeking to pass a permanent injunction against Illayaraja and to declare them to be the sole copyright owners of the music and songs composed by Illayaraja for the films produced by them. In addition, they have claimed accounts of income earned by Illayaraja for exploiting such copyrights till date.
The producers have stated that he cannot claim ownership for technical and artistic performance rendered by him for a film, as such work done by him is in the course of the employment for a fixed remuneration and the producer is the owner of such copyrights of the film, including the rights in the music and songs.

PPL Moves Bombay High Court Anticipating Copyright Infringement at New Year’s Events

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) has moved the Bombay High Court against nearly150 five-star hotels and New Year party event organizers calling them to either obtain public performance license by paying the prescribed royalty or abstain from playing songs from its repertoire. A legal notice was also sent to these entities including Hotel Ramada, Leela, Courtyard Marriot, JW Marriott, ITC and Lemon Tree Hotels, emphasizing the requirement to obtain a license from PPL for authorized use of the songs at upcoming year-end events. PPL had approached the High Courts at Madras and Bombay in previous years, and had succeeded in obtaining both injunctions against the unauthorised performances of its songs as well as deposits as a pre-condition to perform the songs. As PPL currently deals only in public performance and radio licenses, the new year events are a major source of revenue collection for PPL.

TRAI: No Blackout of Subscribed TV Channels in New Framework

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in March 2017, had notified the new regulatory framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services and re-notified it on July 3, 2018, prescribing the implementation schedule. In furtherance to this, there was rumours that there may be a black-out of existing subscribed channels on TV screens after December 29 due to the TRAI order.  Therefore, TRAI issued a statement that “The Authority is seized of the matter and hereby advises that all Broadcasters/DPOs (distribution platform operators)/LCOs (local cable operators), will ensure that any channel that a consumer is watching today is not discontinued on December 29th assuring that there would be no disruption of TV services due to implementation of the new regulatory framework.

Censor Board Demands Changes in Thackeray Biopic

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has objected to four dialogues and two scenes in the film ‘Thackeray’, which is based on the life of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. The film, scripted and produced by senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, had included controversial references made by Thackeray regarding South Indians and the Babri Masjid. Sanjay Raut has responded to the CBFC’s demands with a refusal to make any changes or cuts to the movie, stating that the movie shows Bal Thackeray as he was.


Spotify Settles $1.6 Billion Infringement Suit

Last week, music streaming giant Spotify announced that it has settled a suit filed by Wixen Music Publishing in December 2017. In the suit, Wixen claimed that the music streaming platform was streaming tens of thousands of songs without proper licensing or compensation. Wixen represented various artists including Tom Petty, Neil Young, and The Doors, and sought damages of up to $1.6 billion. The settlement requires Spotify to pay an undisclosed sum to Wixen, but the parties appear to have amicably resolved the infringement claims in the interest of maintaining future business relations.

Bar Sued for Copyright-Infringing Karaoke

The Sand Creek Lounge, a historic bar in Aurora, US, is being sued by 23 major music corporations for copyright infringement. The bar is being sued for holding unauthorised karaoke performances of various musical compositions, including songs by famous singers Michael Jackson and Elton John. The suit alleges infringement of songs owned by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), Hydroponic Music, Sony/ATV and others. BMI has various licenses, starting at USD 378 per year, based on the size of the venue and the frequency of the performances, and claims that it tried contacting the Bar owner to inform him of copyright obligations related to karaoke performances.
BMI, whose portfolio includes more than fourteen million musical works by 900,000 artists and publishers, has also sued other bars, restaurants and similar venues in the past, with many suits leading to profitable settlements.

Wynn Resorts Sues Genting over Hotel Design

Wynn Resorts is suing the Genting Group for various IP infringement and unfair trade claims, including copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. Wynn has expressed concern that Genting Groups Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV), which is at the opposite end of the Las Vegas Strip from Wynn’s Encore hotel, is too architecturally similar. Wynn filed the suit in a court in Nevada, US, claiming substantial similarity in the external design of the RWLV building, and is seeking an injunction prohibiting the use of its iconic trade dress. Wynn claims the infringement of its trade dress by RWLV is intentional, and is also seeking profits resulting from the use of the colours and architectural style as well as exemplary and punitive damages.

Jennifer Lopez Sued for Posting Own Photo

Professional Photographer Michael Stewart has sued singer-actress Jennifer Lopez for posting a photograph of her which was taken by him. Stewart claims that he took the picture of Lopez earlier this year and licensed it to The Daily Mail, who ran it in an article on their website in June 2018. However, Lopez or her team posted the photo without his permission, on her Instagram stories captioned “Today was a good day!!”
Stewart is reportedly suing Lopez and her production company, Nuyorican Productions, for copyright infringement. He is seeking all profits she has made from the photo, or up to $150k in damages. This suit is the latest in a series of similar suits between photographers and various celebrities in the last few months. American Football player Odell Beckham Jr. had sued a picture agency claiming that they photographed celebrities without their knowledge and then coerced the celebrities into paying for their own pictures through infringement suits.


Mattel Loses Licensing Rights to DC Toys

Toy giant, Mattel has lost the licensing rights for many DC comics products. Once their current deal with DC comics expires in 2020, Mattel will no longer be able to produce boy’s action toys, remote control and robotic vehicles, water toys and games, or puzzles featuring DC Comics characters. From 2020, the rights for producing these toys will be licensed to Toronto-based Spin Master Corp. The loss of rights has directly affected Mattel’s shares, which are already trading at an 18-year low. But all is not lost for Mattel, as they still remain a license holder for DC Comics’ preschool and girls’ toys, which includes the budding “Super Hero Girls” line.

Marvel Signs Merchandising Deals for New Spider-man Movie

Marvel has entered a series of merchandising deals for its latest animation film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” As part of the merchandise for the movie, toymaker Hasbro has signed a deal for new action-figure series including six-inch models of the film’s main characters Spider-Gwen, Miles, Peter and Prowler and has released a Prowler Attack 3-D Game. Merchandise creator Funko has signed a deal for its line of “Pop!” and exclusive renditions of some characters, while Hot Topic has signed a deal for t-shirts featuring characters of the film. A 2019 calendar has also been released, which features images of Miles, Gwen, Peter, Noir and Spider-Ham. The film’s original soundtrack, including “What’s Up Danger,” “Familia” and “Scared of the Dark” is available now at Target stores. Marvel has also signed a deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand for specially designed Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Origin Story shoes.

China Resumes Commercial Approval for Video Games

Video game companies expect that China, the world’s biggest gaming market, will once again start granting commercial approvals for new titles, ending a nine months freeze. Chinese regulators stopped approving commercial licenses for games in March 2018, as part of a government shake-up that folded the country’s top media regulator into the ruling Communist party’s propaganda department. This hold on approvals has largely affected the growth of some of the gaming publication giants, including Tencent. According to the executives working in the gaming industry, the approvals are expected to resume next month but it would take officials months to clear a backlog of more than 5,000 titles awaiting approval.
Despite the restart in granting licenses, game developers are expecting the strict scrutiny to continue, resulting in slow growth of the already-mature market and increasing competition between developers.


A song, also known as a sound recording, has many individually copyrightable elements that contribute to the whole such as lyrics, composition, and performance. The song producer in engaging various contributors to make the song will own the copyright in the sound recording.

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]

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