Election Commission Clears ‘PM Narendra Modi’ Biopic, Ban on TikTok App in India and more

Election Commission Clears ‘PM Narendra Modi’ Biopic, Directs CBFC to Decide, High Court Rejects PIL Seeking Ban on PM Narendra Modi’s Biopic, Madras HC Asks Centre to Issue Ban on TikTok App, Lucifer Leaked Online Soon After Release, Twitter Accused of Censorship After Takedown of Anti-Abortion Movie Account, Mercedes Strongly Defends Street Art Infringement Claims, Ulta Sued Using Artist’s Work to Sell Face Masks, Urban Outfitters Faces Copyright Infringement Claim Over Gender-Neutral Fragrances, Game of Thrones Creators Ink Licensing Deal with Whiskey Company,Sony Sells Stake in Crackle and Invests in Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and more


The copy price of the future is copyright.

 – Mathias Dopfner


There is a decrease of 11% in the total number of copyright applications filed for the month of March as compared to the month of February. A total of 1542 applications were filed in the month of March 2019. The majority of applications were filed for literary works and artistic works.

S. No Type of Work Number of Applications filed in the month of  February 2019 Number of Applications filed in the month of March 2019 Change Percentage Change
1. Literary Work 968 990 22 Increase of 2%
2. Musical Work 42 35 7 Decrease of 17%
3. Artistic Work 457 331 126 Decrease of 28%
4. Cinematograph Film 93 7 6 Decrease of 92%
5. Sound Recording 36 42 2 Increase of 17%
6. Software 144 137 7 Decrease of 5%
Total 1740 1542 198 Decrease of 11%

National News

High Court Rejects Ban while EC Clears ‘PM Narendra Modi’ Biopic, Now CBFC to Decide
A plea had been recently filed in the Bombay High Court to bring a ban on the film ‘PM Narendra Modi’ (biopic) ahead of elections, calling it ‘propaganda’ and a violation the election code of conduct, as it was seen as an advertisement for the BJP. The court had referred the issue to the Election Commission. The Election Commission has recently cleared the release of ‘PM Narendra Modi’ biopic stating that the film has not violated the model code of conduct. Further, the commission said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was the competent authority to decide on the matter and directed the CBFC to decide.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has rejected a plea seeking ban on the release of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PIL was filed by Congress Seva Dal’s state president Yogesh Yadav. The court opined that since the Election Commission had decided to look into the matter, the court would not interfere in the same at present. In his petition, Yadav had alleged that the biopic would violate the model code of conduct and that the screening of this movie would give an unfair advantage to the BJP in the general election.
PM Narendra Modi, the film, will portray the journey of Narendra Modi from his humble beginnings to becoming the Prime Minister of India. The movie is slated to release on 12th April, 2019.
Madras HC Asks Centre to Issue Ban on TikTok App
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court recently issued an interim direction to the central government, to prohibit downloading of the TikTok Application on account of pornography and inappropriate content being made available on the platform. The court also sought to prohibit media from displaying TikTok videos as it may showcase disturbing content that degrades Indian culture. The order also states that “Observing that governments of Indonesia and Bangladesh have already banned TikTok and USA has passed ‘Children Online Privacy Act’ to prevent children from becoming cyber victims, a similar act is necessary in India too.” Taking example of the viral Blue Whale challenge as well as the subsequent suicide of a 17-year-old in Mumbai, the court has urged the centre to take matters involving young persons in a more serious light. The order has also urged the government to answer, “whether the Union of India will enact a statute, like Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent the children from becoming cyber/online victims.”
Lucifer Leaked Online Soon After Release
Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Malayalam movie, Lucifer, starring Mohanlal, which released last week, was made available on Tamil Rockers website online one day after its release. The movie opened well at the box office, earning about Rs 6.7 crore on the opening day in Kerala, which is the second biggest opening in the state behind “odiyan” released in 2018. However, its availability on Tamil rockers within the first week may affect box office earnings over the next few weeks.

International News

Twitter Accused of Censorship After Takedown of Anti-Abortion Movie Account
Supporters of the new controversial anti-abortion film ‘Unplanned’ have slammed Twitter for portraying bias on a sensitive issue. The makers of the film as well as the fans have accused Twitter of censorship. Many users reported that a glitch did not allow them to follow the movie’s official page on the site. Twitter had also reportedly taken down the page temporarily. Additionally, when the page was reinstated, many users found that they were no longer following the page. Users reached out on the site to express their dismay over the issue. “No matter how many times you follow @UnplannedMovie, it comes right off. No one in world believes this was an accident” tweeted one user. A spokesperson for Twitter has attempted to clarify that the Unplanned account was mistakenly caught in the automated systems for ban evasion after an account linked to it violated the Twitter rules. Twitter adds that it “reinstated the account as soon as it was brought to our attention.” Many users believe that the site had this glitch due to the film’s sensitive anti-abortion message, in response to which an official statement read – “We enforce our rules dispassionately and do not engage in so-called shadow banning [stealthily or partially banning content].”
Mercedes Strongly Defends Street Art Infringement Claims
Mercedes Benz has filed a series of civil suits seeking a judgement to prove that it did not infringe graffiti artists’ work in its campaign to promote the G 500 Series Truck. Back in January 2018, Mercedes had posted a picture on its social media account depicting the latest G 500 car model along with the back drop of street art graffiti located in Detroit. Mercedes claims that all of the artworks were partially blurred in the photographs. Soon after, many artists contacted the company threatening to file suits for copyright infringement. Mercedes said that it took down the image immediately but has still been subject to continued threats and an “aggressive shakedown”. In its suits, Mercedes claims non-infringement and fair use. The company has said that the images were shot in “an oblique angle designed to draw the viewer’s focus immediately to the G 500, not the mural” and it has thereby “transformed the aesthetic and meaning” of each of the artworks. The murals “cannot reasonably be perceived to communicate messages about the versatility of the G 500, off-road cars driving in the city, or any other message that substantially overlaps with MBUSA’s Instagram post”, stated a spokesperson for Mercedes. The company seeks an award of costs and fees in each of the cases.
Ulta Sued Using Artist’s Work to Sell Face Masks
Popular American beauty retailer Ulta has been embroiled in a copyright infringement suit filed by Amsterdam-based artist and designer Dominic Sebastian Metcalfe for allegedly copying his work to use as packaging on face mask products. Metcalfe is a renowned graphical designer and has worked with several big brands like Puma, Nike and Chanel in the past. Back in 2012, he created a series of two-dimensional artworks and titled them as ‘Holographic Melt’. He put out the artwork on his online portfolio as well as on Tumblr, which he believes is where Ulta had taken the image from. The images have been used without permission on the packaging of Ulta’s ‘Briteplex Unicorn Masques’. In his complaint, Metcalfe argues “the elements, colours, composition, arrangement, layout, aesthetic, total look-and-feel, and appearance of [his] artwork and the artwork on [Ulta’s] infringing products are at least substantially similar,” and therefore gives rise to copyright infringement. He goes on to argue that after he alerted Ulta regarding his rights in the design, Ulta “slightly modified [the] artwork,” thereby, creating a similarly “unlawful derivative of [Metcalfe]s] artwork and continued to use [the] derivative, which employs the same overall look and feel as the artwork, in connection with its products and packaging.” Metcalfe does not have a copyright registration over the artwork but asserts that since he first published the artwork outside of the United States, he is thus, exempt from the requirement that his work must be registered with the United States Copyright Office prior to the commencement of this action. Metcalfe is seeking a court order prohibiting Ulta from using his artwork and also monetary damages, including profits made by Ulta that are attributable to the infringement of his work.
Urban Outfitters Faces Copyright Infringement Claim Over Gender-Neutral Fragrances
Eris, a budding fragrance company has filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters for not only copying its federally registered trademark for a private label perfume collection, but also “deliberately” copying-and-pasting “marketing text almost verbatim from [Eris’] website” to sell its mass-market scents.  In the complaint, Eris claims that it has been using the registered trademark ‘MX’ on its perfume, which has been advertised as an inclusive fragrance suitable for all genders. MX – pronounced as ‘mix’ – is a play on the mixing process used by Eris to create the fragrance. This process involves subtly combining notes that blur the boundaries between conventional binary ‘his’ and ‘her’ scents. In addition, the name is “a reference to the gender-free honorific ‘Mx’ that is often used by nonbinary people in lieu of ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’” Eris’ complaint states that both Urban Outfitters and its distributor Maesa co-opted the registered trademark name ‘Mx’ trademark for use on their own ‘counterfeit’ fragrances, thereby giving rise to trademark infringement. Additionally, in an attempt to pass off on Eris’ goodwill, Urban Outfitters has also advertised marketing material taken directly from [Eris’] website and marketing materials. Eris has called out Urban Outfitters and Maesa for their ‘intentionally fraudulent, malicious, wilful, and wanton’ conduct. Eris argues that, by way of Urban Outfitters’ “combined use of [Eris’] trademark and promotional copy,” it is demonstrating “a clear, intentional scheme to unlawfully benefit from wilful infringement of [Eris’] intellectual property and unfairly compete” and … a “deliberate intent to create a false impression as to the source and sponsorship of [the Urban Outfitters] products.”  Eris claims trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin, and copyright infringement and seeks a court order prohibiting Urban Outfitters from using any of their intellectual property and also relative monetary damages.

Licensing and Merchandising News

Game of Thrones Creators Ink Licensing Deal with Whiskey Company
The producers of the very successful ‘Game of Thrones’ have partnered with Diageo PLC to curate different whiskey products just in time for the final season. The latest collection of the single malt scotch whiskey will have seven different varieties – depicting the seven different kingdoms as portrayed on the show. For example, House Stark has been paired with Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost. Dalwhinnie, known for being one of the highest distilleries in all of Scotland is cold and remote much like The North where House Stark calls home, making the two an ideal pairing. “We’re excited that the Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection will be hitting shelves in more countries around the world,” said Pedro Mendonca, Global Reserve Marketing & Malts Director. “We are always trying to find fun and interesting ways to introduce our Scotch portfolio and what better way than partnering with Game of Thrones, one of the most successful TV series ever created.” The whiskey collection is now available for purchase.
Sony Sells Stake in Crackle and Invests in Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment
Sony Pictures Television has inked a deal with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment to release a joint venture – called Crackle Plus. CSS Entertainment will own the majority of the new company, and Sony will in turn receive 4 million five-year warrants to purchase Class A common stock of CSS Entertainment at various price points. Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Mike Hopkins and CSS Entertainment chairman and CEO Bill Rouhana have both expressed intent to create a successful collaboration. “We look at the AVOD [ad-supported video-on-demand] market as being ripe for innovation,” Hopkins said. Sony will contribute Crackle’s U.S. brand, its user base, and its advertising business to the joint venture. Sony Entertainment’s service will provide the back-end tech for the joint venture, and Sony Pictures Television is also licensing movies and TV shows from the Sony Pictures catalog to add to Crackle Plus. On the other hand, CSS Entertainment will contribute its own ad-supported video services Popcornflix, Truli, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, and Espanolflix, as well as the subscription video services company Pivotshare. Rouhana said Popcornflix and Crackle would remain unchanged for the time being, but that there would likely be some changes to the two services over time. Crackle Plus will have access to over 38,500 hours of programming and will serve close to 10 million monthly active users across its services, who collectively stream over 1.3 billion minutes per month. “We think it’s a big opportunity,” Hopkins said.
IPL Licensing News
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has granted digital mandate to Gozoop and video content mandate to What Works. Gozoop will be taking on the responsibility of digital and content creation duties for the brand as well as curating a range of video offerings extending throughout the season. What Works has been retained after its successful stint with KKR last year and will be taking charge of creating engagement and affinity for the team on the digital medium with content assets created for different platforms. These platforms will be working to ensure KKR spearheads through the clutter of IPL communications during the season as well as support the brand to communicate with fans and audiences effectively through campaigns, activations and real-time engagement during live matches.
Snapchat has found a favourable business opportunity in the IPL 2019 frenzy.  Snapchat has partnered with four IPL teams to bring the latest behind-the-scenes updates with the Augmented Reality lenses, and Our Stories feature for followers of the tournament. The social media company has collaborated with Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders for the entire season. Viewers will just have to follow the teams on their official social media accounts. All these official accounts will be posting updates and followers can just opt-in to receive the latest notifications on their devices when a post is published. Additionally, CricTracker and Sportskeeda will also launch on Snapchat’s Discover section to provide latest updates.

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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