Madras HC Prohibits Unauthorised Use of Ilaiyaraja’s Songs; DIPP Releases Draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules, Blackbeard Video Dispute Before SCOTUS, and more

Madras HC Prohibits Unauthorised Use of Ilaiyaraja’s Songs; DIPP Releases Draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2019; Bharat Leaked Online by Tamilrockers; Kawhi Leonard Sues Nike for Copyright Infringement; SCOTUS to Hear Copyright Dispute over Blackbeard Footage; Kanye West and Kid Cudi Claim Sampling is Fair Use; The Penny Hoarder Sues the Smart Wallet; Nickelodeon to Make Baby Shark Animated Series; YouTube Begins Disallowing Younger Minors from Live Streaming; ICC Partners with Social Media to Digitally Connect with Fans, and more.

Copyright Quote

“The Ilayaraja Judgment is very good news for authors of creative works in the film industry. It opens new licensing and monetisation opportunities for music composers, lyricists, and performers, the benefit from which was being exclusively enjoyed by producers and record labels until now. The practice of working with composers and lyricists without formal agreements or unclear transfers rightfully places the ball in the authors’ court.”

– Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala, BananaIP Counsels.

Copyright Statistics

There is an increase of 1.5% in the total number of copyright applications filed for the month of May as compared to the month of April. A total of 1757 applications were filed in the month of May, 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
April 2019
Number of Applications filed in month of May 2019 Change Percentage Change
1 Literary/ Dramatic Work 984 966 71 Decrease of 2%
2 Musical Work 51 43 8 Decrease of 15%
3 Artistic Work 445 454 33 Increase of 2%
4 Cinematograph Work 17 17 0 No Change
5 Sound Recording 104 68 39 Decrease of 34%
6 Software 130 209 66 Increase of 61%
Total 1731 1757 26 Increase of 1.5%

Indian Copyright News

Madras HC Prohibits Unauthorised Use of Ilaiyaraja’s Songs
On June 4th 2019, the Madras Hight Court passed an order prohibiting the monetization of legendary composer Ilaiyaraja’s songs without his permission. Ilaiyaraja had filed a suit in 2014, alleging copyright infringement by music recording companies like Agi Music, Echo Recording, and others. In his suit, he claimed that he had composed songs for over 1000 movies, which were being used and monetized without his permission, thereby infringing on his exclusive rights to distribute, make derivative works of, and make other works incorporating his songs. The order prohibits all unauthorized exploitation and monetization of his works, but allows films comprising songs by Ilaiyaraja to be screened in theatres. An interim order to the same effect was passed earlier, which has now been extended by the recent decision.
DIPP Releases Draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2019
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DIPP) released the Draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2019 to the public for comments. According to the press release, the Rules are aimed at bringing compliance with the Copyright Act at par with other legislations, namely the Patents and Trademarks Acts as well as digitizing regulation. The Draft Rules are open for comments till 29th June, 2019. The press release inviting comments, the method of submission and a link to the Rules may be accessed here.
Bharat Leaked Online by Tamilrockers
The film Bharat, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, was leaked online on the Tamilrockers piracy website on the day of its release. The film, starring Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan, was scheduled to be released in theatres on June 5th, 2019.  The website is notorious for leaking movies and has been functioning since 2011. Despite strict orders against illegal streaming websites, including one allowing dynamic injunctions passed recently by the Delhi High Court, these websites have continued to operate and negatively impact box office earnings of recent releases.

International News

Kawhi Leonard Sues Nike for Copyright Infringement
Basketball star Kawhi Leonard, who plays for the NBA team Toronto Raptors, has filed a suit against sportwear giant Nike in a California Court, alleging copyright infringement. Leonard claims that Nike filed for copyright registration of an original “Klaw” logo created by him while he was in college. He alleges that he had only permitted Nike to use the logo as part of his merchandise deal with the brand, and did not completely transfer his rights in the logo. The “Klaw” logo was also being used by Leonard on non-Nike goods, and Leonard alleges that Nike has objected to his own use of this logo in the future.
SCOTUS to Hear Copyright Dispute over Blackbeard Footage
Videographer Rick Allen and his company, Nautilus Productions, had sued the state of North Carolina, US, for copyright infringement in 2015. In his suit, he claimed that he owns the underwater footage of the shipwreck Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was discovered in 1996. Allen was hired by the Intersal Inc. to document its efforts to salvage the ship, which was captained by the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Despite Allen having registered the copyright of the footage, the state of North Carolina uploaded some copyrighted photos of the wreck online. Initial disputes were settled by dividing his footage into commercial and non-commercial footage. However, the state then passed the “Blackbeard’s Law”, which converted the footage into public records. The state is claiming Sovereign Immunity, which protects it from limited types of private actions. The decision of the US Supreme Court could impact the extent and purposes for which states and government agencies are permitted to make use of intellectual property owned by private entities.
Kanye West and Kid Cudi Claim Sampling is Fair Use
The debate over whether sampling constitutes ‘Fair use’ continues, with the most recent development being a suit filed by American actor Ronald Oslin Bobb-Semple against rappers Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Bobb-Semple sued the artists, who released the song under the name Kids See Ghost, in March this year. West and Cudi claim that their use of a sample of Bobb-Semple’s voice in their track “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)” constitutes fair-use. The sample, which can be heard at the beginning of their song, features Bobb-Semple performing as political activist Marcus Garvey.
Fair use provisions exempt users from liability for infringement, but only cover non-commercial and limited use in certain circumstances. Sampling usually requires the grant of permission by the rights owner, as it would not generally amount to fair use in commercial releases.
The Penny Hoarder Sues the Smart Wallet
The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance publication, has sued its competitor, the Smart Wallet for copyright infringement as well as trade secret theft. The Penny Hoarder has alleged that the Smart Wallet copied its website format, website content, and widget.
The Penny Hoarder also accused the Smart Wallet of attempting to hire its employees in order to steal its innovative backend source code which is password-protected and double-authenticated. The Penny Hoarder is claiming damages and a temporary injunction barring the Smart Wallet from using its trade secrets.

Licensing News

Nickelodeon to Make Baby Shark Animated Series
Baby Shark, the star of an animated video series produced by South Korean educational content producer Pinkfong, is set to get its own animated series. Popular children’s content channel Nickelodeon has announced that it has acquired a license to make an animated series of Baby Shark, whose videos have gone viral on the internet since their launch.  Nickelodeon has also acquired merchandise rights for Baby Shark, which is now the most popular educational video trend on YouTube, and will be looking to expand the brand to other lucrative markets.
YouTube Begins Disallowing Younger Minors from Live Streaming
Streaming giant YouTube has recently announced that it is taking measures to disallow minors under the age of fourteen from live streaming on YouTube unless they are clearly accompanied by an adult. This is part of YouTube’s crackdown on inappropriate videos of children being uploaded on the site, and attempts to address outrage over the large number of such videos being uploaded by users. Apart from self-regulation by intermediaries, the government has also taken interest in regulating content on these social media platforms. Government intervention led to a ban on social media app TikTok in April 2019 by the Madras High Court, which was later lifted.
ICC Partners with Social Media to Digitally Connect with Fans
The International Cricket Council has unveiled new plans to increase fan outreach and connect with its fans digitally. The ICC has announced that it is launching its own mobile applications, with content in English, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu. The ICC has also partnered with social media portals Facebook, TikTok and YouTube, and will also be producing digital-only content.
The ICC has also partnered with Twitter, with special emoji for the captains and jerseys of all teams participating in the current edition of the World Cup. For instance, a tweet with the hashtag #TeamIndia would show a special emoji of the jersey of the Indian cricket team. The partnership includes the launch of more content on the platform.
The Entertainment Law News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the Entertainment Law, eCommerce Law, and Consulting/Strategy Divisions of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with
the subject: Ent Law News.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the news bulletin has been put together from different sources, primary and secondary, and BananaIP’s reporters may not have verified all the news published in the bulletin. You may write to [email protected] for corrections and take down.

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