E-Commerce Policy, Rush for Patriotic Movie Titles, Spotify in India, and more.

DIPP Invites Comments on E-Commerce Policy, Bollywood Rushes to Register Patriotic Movie Titles, Spotify’s India Launch Hit by Warner Suit, IFTDA Bans Navjot Singh Sidhu from Kapil Sharma Show, Tiktok Launches Video Series on Community Guidelines, Total Dhamaal Leaked Online Soon After Release, APC: Serena Williams’ Cartoon Not Racist, Nicki Minaj Denies Copyright Infringement in Tracy Chapman Lawsuit, US Copyright Office Denies Copyright for ‘Carlton Dance’ in Fortnite Suit, US Court Allows AT&T-Time Warner Merger, Facebook Held Liable for Retaining Copyright Infringing Links in Italy, Pocket Aces Teams up with Amazon, Tip of the Week, and more.

Copyright Quote

Unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple in copyright law, and when it comes to music copyright, it’s especially convoluted.
– Sarah Jeong

Copyright Statistics

There is an increase of 1% in the total number of copyright applications filed last week as compared to the previous week. A total of 427 applications were filed 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 Previous Week
(11th February, 2019 to 17th February, 2019)
Number of Applications filed in the Recent Week
(18th February, 2019 to 24th February, 2019)
Change Percentage Change
1. Literary Work 218 216 2 Decrease of 1%
2. Musical Work 6 8 2 Increase of 33%
3. Artistic Work 104 147 43 Increase of 41%
4. Cinematograph Film 49 29 20 Decrease of 41%
5. Sound Recording 11 7 4 Decrease of 36%
6. Software 35 20 15 Decrease of 43%
Total 423 427 4 Increase of 1%


Indian Copyright News

DIPP Invites Comments on E-Commerce Policy

Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has recently published the draft of the National E-Commerce Policy. The Draft Policy seeks to create a framework that will enable India to benefit from the rapid digitization of the domestic and international markets. The notification invites comments and suggestions from stakeholders, to be submitted before 9th March 2019.
The notice issued by the Ministry can be accessed here, and the draft policy can be accessed here.

Bollywood Rushes to Register ‘Patriotic’ Movie Titles

In the wake of the latest events surrounding the air strikes carried out by the Indian Air Force at Balakot to avenge the killing of Indian Soldiers, numerous movie production houses are in serious talks to reserve movie titles like ‘Pulwama’, ‘Surgical Strike 2.0’, ‘Wing Commander Abhinandan’, ‘Balakot’ and their variations. The Indian Motion Pictures’ Producers’ Association found its offices crowded with representatives of several Bollywood producers who were caught up in detailed discussions to reserve titles for movies they wanted to make in the near future. At a time when the nation is mourning the loss of over 49 CRPF jawans and also anticipating the safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan, the world of Bollywood is keen to quickly capitalise on this national tragedy. Producers had begun reserving names as early as February 14th, 2019 – the very day of the unfortunate Pulwama attacks. This piqued interest is mostly due to the overwhelming success of the film URI: The Surgical Strike, which is based on the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army after the URI attacks.

Spotify’s India Launch Hit by Warner Suit

Music streaming giant Spotify, scheduled to launch in India in the next few weeks, is facing a lawsuit in the Bombay High Court. The suit, filed by Warner Music, seeks to restrain Spotify   from offering any songs of Warner music via its application in India.
However, Spotify appears to have proceeded with its launch in India despite the suit, and is now available for users with various free and subscription-based plans, along with a one-month free trial. Spotify hopes its competitive pricing and free trial will give it an edge in the crowded market for music streaming, which includes Wynk, JioSaavn, Apple Music and Google Play Music. It has been reported that some songs owned by Warner Music are not available on the platform.

IFTDA Bans Navjot Singh Sidhu from Kapil Sharma Show

In the wake of the offensive comments made by Navjot Singh Sidhu about the Pulwama attack, the IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors Association) has released a press release announcing the removal of Navjot Singh Sidhu from The Kapil Sharma Show. The IFTDA has also taken a pledge to not work with any Pakistani artists or singers as a tribute to the martyrs.

Tiktok Launches Video Series on Community Guidelines

Recently, the Tamil Nadu government banned popular lip-syncing video platform ‘TikTok’, claiming that it was dissociating the youth from traditional beliefs. In response to this, TikTok has created a new video series to inform its users about the community guidelines and other privacy and safety-related resources available on the platform. The series, titled “You’re in Control”, stars TikTok users and makes use of the same effects (including memes and editing) available for other videos. Tik Tok recently completed 1 billion downloads and is among the most popular content platforms today. However, like many other user-driven content platforms, it has been frequently criticized for featuring explicit, abusive and hate-mongering material.

Total Dhamaal Leaked Online Soon After Release

Indira Kumar’s comedy movie Total Dhamaal, was made available online soon after its release last week. The movie stars Ajay DevgnRiteish DeshmukhArshad WarsiJaved JaffreyMadhuri DixitEsha Gupta and Anil Kapoor. The movie opened well at the box office earning about Rs 16.50 crore and becoming the second highest grossing movie of the year. However, its availability on various piracy sites within the first week may affect box office earnings over the next few weeks.

International News

APC: Serena Williams’ Cartoon Not Racist

Close to six months after the release of a cartoon mocking tennis star Serena Williams that was met with international rebuke, the Australian Press Council (APC) has defended the image. The cartoon, published in popular Australian newspaper ‘The Herald Sun’, depicted Serena Williams’ reaction to her US Open loss to Naomi Osaka of Japan. The image shows Williams throwing a temper tantrum and throwing her racket, while the umpire is shown asking Osaka ‘Can you just let her win?’. The picture received much backlash for depicting Williams as an ape with many readers finding it to be racist. The Press Council, a watchdog group responsible for promoting good media practice standards in Australia, responded to the allegations stating that the caricature “uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point but accepts the publisher’s claim that it does not depict Ms. Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers.” The Council also accepts that the cartoon was illustrated in response to the events that occurred at the US Open Final.

Nicki Minaj Denies Copyright Infringement in Tracy Chapman Lawsuit

In 2018, songstress Tracy Chapman filed a suit against rapper Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement claiming that the latter had used a part of her song without permission. Chapman alleges that Nicki’s unreleased track ‘Sorry’ interpolates her 1988 song ‘Baby Can I Hold You’. Last week, in her first formal response to the allegation, Minaj has denied copyright infringement and also states that her interpolation is protected by the doctrine of fair use. Additionally, she claims that Chapman had never properly claimed copyright over her composition in the track ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ and is, therefore, not the owner of the copyright in issue and thus lacks standing to bring the claims alleged in the complaint. Through her suit, Tracy Chapman is seeking damages and an order to prevent Nicki Minaj and her team from releasing ‘Sorry’.

US Copyright Office Denies Copyright for ‘Carlton Dance’ in Fortnite Suit

The US Copyright Office has denied registration for ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ star Alfonso Ribeiro’s ‘Carlton Dance’ routine. This decision will also weaken the suits filed by the actor against two game studios who have copied his dance. Ribeiro created the ‘Carton Dance’ for his portrayal of character Carlton Banks on the show. He then sued Take-Two and Epic Games for copying and using his routine as a celebratory dance for players on the games NBA 2K and Fortnite respectively. Take-Two’s defense states that Ribeiro’s routine is too basic to obtain protection as the Copyright Act covers only complex choreography. The Copyright Office was in agreement and stated that his dance is a simple routine made up of only three steps and therefore cannot be granted registration. The rejection letter also says that the fact that a dance or a movement contains more than a trivial amount of original authorship is irrelevant. This goes to say that even if Ribeiro’s dance was original and unique, it cannot be granted copyright. Some argue that because Ribeiro created the routine while playing a fictional character on someone else’s show, there arises a unique question about who owns the routine. Since he is a celebrity, Ribeiro has also made a non-copyright claim against Take-Two and Epic Games for ‘appropriating his likeness’.

US Court Allows AT&T-Time Warner Merger

In its second court challenge, the US Federal Government has lost the appeal to block AT&T’s USD 85.4 billion merger with Time Warner, a landmark deal that could transform the media industry. The government had claimed that the lower court did not apply the antitrust laws correctly and hence appealed to reverse the decision. The representatives for the Justice Department have stated that such a merger goes against fair competition practices and would ultimately hurt consumers. The United States Court of Appeals found no merit in the objections raised by the Government to block this merger. David McAtee, the general counsel for AT&T, has stated that this merger has already yielded significant consumer benefits and will continue to do so for years to come. AT&T can now move forward with its plan to transform Warner Media into a streaming-video business.

Facebook Held Liable for Retaining Copyright Infringing Links in Italy

The social networking giant has been ordered to pay up damages for retaining infringing material on one of its Facebook groups. The decision came after a suit was filed by Mediaset, an Italian media conglomerate, against Facebook for not taking down certain copyrighted links of the cartoon ‘Kirarin Revolution’ that were posted on a Facebook group. Mediaset alleged that retaining these video links constituted copyright infringement and that there were several postings on the group containing derogatory remarks against the people involved in the show. Although the copyright infringing material was first posted on YouTube, the media group went after Facebook to take down the links primarily to shut down the group that posted the derogatory remarks. Mediaset’s lawyer Alessandro La Rosa has weighed in and says “Despite Facebook’s role as a passive hosting provider, in this case, it’s obliged to take down and prevent access to illicit information uploaded on its website. The provider is expected to carry out its economic activity with the due diligence that’s reasonably expected to identify and prevent the reported illegal activities,”. The court has ordered Facebook to pay damages amounting to EUR 35,000. Facebook is considering filing an appeal against this decision.

Licensing News

Pocket Aces Teams up with Amazon

Digital media platform Pocket Aces has announced that their first web series of 2019, titled ‘Home Sweet Office’, will be backed by Amazon.in. This collaboration, which is Amazon’s first online association with a digital storyteller, also has Butterfly Ayurveda and Pipa Bella (a jewelry-maker) on board as sponsors. The show is being promoted as a fun lighthearted show where family dynamics meet workplace dynamics, and will prominently feature Amazon in the storyline. Both Pocket Aces and Amazon are eyeing this as an innovative opportunity to highlight the benefits of Amazon for small business owners.
The 5-episode series began airing on Pocket Aces’ and Dice Media’s Facebook and YouTube channels on 27th February 2019, and will air every Wednesday.

Copyright Tip of the Week

In any claim of copyright infringement, the accuser will need to establish its ownership in the infringed work. A copyright certificate is the most credible form of copyright ownership authentication.

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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