T-Series Gets Infringement Notice, ‘#MeToo’ Filmmaker Challenges CBFC, GTA V Infringer Settles, and more

Filmmaker Sends Notice to T-Series for Khandaani Shafakhana;  ‘#MeToo’ Filmmaker Challenges CBFC Order to Change Movie Name; MEITy Clarifies TOI Headline Threatening Twitter; GTA V Copyright Infringer Agrees to Settlement; Marc Jacobs Requests Dismissal of Nirvana’s Smiley Face Logo Lawsuit; VidAngel Liable for Wilful Copyright Infringement; Artists Temporarily Drop ‘Fortnite’ Charges after SCOTUS Ruling; Netflix Dives into Anime Craze with Numerous Japanese Studio Partnerships; Citizen Watches Collaborates with Captain Marvel, Sponsors World Premiere; Disney And Accenture Create Unique ‘Dumbo’ Posters; Dailymotion Collaborates with NBA G League to Provide Premium Sports Content, Copyright Tip of the Week, and more.

Copyright Quote

Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device.
– Lawrence Lessig

Copyright Statistics

There is an increase of 43% in the total number of copyright applications filed last week as compared to the previous week. A total of 392 applications were filed during the last week. The majority of applications were filed for literary and artistic works.

S. No Type of Work Number of Applications filed in the Previous Week
(25th February, 2019 to 28th February, 2019)
Number of Applications filed in the Recent Week
(01st March, 2019 to 10th March, 2019)
Change Percentage Change
1. Literary Work 185 261 76 Increase of 42%
2. Musical Work 06 05 01 Decrease of 17%
3. Artistic Work 39 92 53 Increase of 136%
4. Cinematograph Film 02 01 01 Decrease of 50%
5. Sound Recording 05 08 03 Increase of 60%
6. Software 40 25 15 Decrease of 38%
Total 275 392 117 Increase of 43%

National News

Filmmaker Sends Notice to T-Series for Khandaani Shafakhana

Filmmaker Amitabh Parashar has sent a legal notice to the leading production house, T-series, alleging that producers copied ideas for the film ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’ from his script. He claims that he had approached T-series last year with the idea of a comedy film titled ‘Bhag Mohabbat’, based on street sex doctors. He also claims that he had narrated the story in brief and sent the soft copy to T-series for which he received an acknowledgment. He has alleged that the new T-series film ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’, starring Sonakshi Sinha, is very similar to the script provided by him and has demanded damages of Rs. 5 crores for the loss incurred.

‘#MeToo’ Filmmaker Challenges CBFC Order to Change Movie Name

Producer Sajid Iqbal Qureshi has filed a petition in Delhi High Court challenging an order of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which required him to change the title of his movie “#metoo” and make several other changes, including the addition of a disclaimer for violence.  The order also restricted the public exhibition of the film to adults by granting it an ‘A’ certificate. Qureshi claimed that the CBFC neither gave him an opportunity to be heard nor any reasonable justification for the order being passed. He has alleged that the   CBFC order is illegal as it violates the Cinematograph Act of 1952 and Constitution of India. The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the CBFC and the Central Government.

MEITy Clarifies TOI Headline Threatening Twitter 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) has issued a notification clarifying a news item published in the Times of India (TOI). TOI had published an article titled “Twitter executives could face 7-year jail, warns government”, which claimed that Twitter executives could be jailed for failing to remove objectionable content.  MEITy stated in its clarification that the report “appears to be exaggerated, stemming from a misunderstanding of the established legal procedure”. It also states that any issues related to the exercise of powers under the Information Technology Act would follow legal procedures.  It also states that the Ministry remains “assured with the fact that the Intermediary platforms have been working closely with the government in a congenial and mutually supportive manner.” With the strict actions being taken to curb fake news affecting the upcoming national elections, this notification helps to clarify the nature of action the government is likely to take against social media platforms.

International News

GTA V Copyright Infringer Agrees to Settlement

Rockstar Games, the developers of popular video game GTA V, has won a consent decree against a cheat code developer for copyright infringement. The cheat ‘Infamous’, which was developed by Erik Cameron, allowed people to use it in the game to advance ahead, causing losses to the developers. This judgement comes in the wake of various other recent cases against cheat code developers, for actions amounting to copyright infringement and breach of contract.  Erik Cameron has admitted to the charges and has agreed to pay up the damages, which so far remain undisclosed. He has also agreed to a prohibition on developing or promoting any code that alters software of Take Two (GTA’s parent company). This order marks the end of two US lawsuits related to the ‘Infamous’ cheat. An Australian case against another alleged developer of the same software is still ongoing. 

Marc Jacobs Requests Dismissal of Nirvana’s Smiley Face Logo Lawsuit

Fashion brand Marc Jacobs has responded to the lawsuit filed by members of the famous American band Nirvana for copyright infringement. The suit was filed by current members of the band along with Nirvana L.L.C. to stop Marc Jacobs’ use of the band’s logo on its latest clothing collection named ‘Redux Grunge’. The band and its representatives argued that the use of the copyrighted image on their clothing was intended to wrongly associate the likeness of grunge founders Nirvana with the clothing collection, to make their campaign more authentic.
Marc Jacobs has retaliated, seeking dismissal of the suit on three grounds. Firstly, it claims that Kurt Cobain was the original creator of this logo and therefore it remains unclear as to how and when he has transferred his rights to Nirvana L.L.C. Their second claim concerns the different dates and aspects of Nirvana’s original copyright claims, resulting in discrepancies that it believes make the claims invalid. Lastly, the lawyers allege that there is no extrinsic similarity in the logo except for the spherical shape used for the face along with the squiggly line showcasing the mouth with the tongue sticking out. Additionally, Marc Jacobs has commented that Ms. Courtney Love and Ms. Frances Bean, Kurt Cobain’s former wife and daughter respectively, have no objection to the said collection and are in full support of it.  Nirvana L.L.C seeks monetary damages, a prohibition on the sale of any of the allegedly infringing items, as well as the removal of any Nirvana references from Jacobs’ promotional materials. 

VidAngel Liable for Wilful Copyright Infringement

Movie filtering service VidAngel has been ruled to have infringed works of Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and LucasFilms. The service, which was started in 2013, spent over USD 2 million in 2015 purchasing DVDs and Blu-Rays of motion pictures. Through this service, users could purchase a copy of the movie from VidAngel and apply filters to rid the film of violence, sex, profanity and other objectionable content to make the movie more ‘family friendly’. Users would then return the copy of the movie and pay VidAngel a dollar or two for the service. The company was first sued in 2016 by Warner Bros., Disney, Lucas Film and 20th Century Fox for reportedly violating copyrights. The studios have claimed, in part, that VidAngel’s digital copies of the film weren’t authorized, and that VidAngel released the videos even before they became available on licensed streaming services. VidAngel then proceeded to sue the movie houses claiming that its services were lawful although several courts had already ruled against the filtering service. Disney is asking that VidAngel be found liable for wilful infringement in the upcoming jury trial. VidAngel claims that the infringement was committed innocently, under the belief that the laws protected VidAngel.

Artists Temporarily Drop ‘Fortnite’ Suits after SCOTUS Ruling

The latest ruling by the US Supreme Court requires artists to register their work with the US Copyright Office before they can initiate any suit for copyright infringement.  In lieu of this, several artists have dropped charges against Epic Games’ ‘Fortnite’ which replicates their dance moves in the video game. The cases that were filed by Alfonso Ribeiro, 2 Milly, the ‘Orange Shirt Kid,’ and ‘The Backpack Kid’ have been temporarily withdrawn in order to have the dance moves registered with the copyright office first. Once the moves are registered, the artists can then proceed to file for copyright infringement, even if the offense has occurred prior to said registration. Earlier this year, Alfonso Ribeiro’s suit against Epic Games and Take-Two Interactive was dismissed by the court because the said dance move did not constitute a ‘work of choreography’ and therefore could not be protected under the law. Now the challenge that lies ahead for these artists is to provide sufficient proof that their dance choreography is more than just a combination of simple dance moves in order to obtain registration for the same.

Licensing News

Netflix Dives into Anime Craze with Numerous Japanese Studio Partnerships

Popular streaming service Netflix has geared up to boost its Anime content by signing numerous partnerships with famous Japanese studio houses. Adding to the 2018 partnerships with Production I.G and Bones, Netflix has secured deals with production companies Anima, Sublimation and David Production. With Anima, Netflix will create ‘Altered Carbon: Resleeved’ based on the original live-action science-fiction series. Netflix will also collaborate with Sublimation on ‘Dragon’s Dogma’, an original anime series based on the critically acclaimed video game of the same name. With David Production, Netflix will be working to create SPRIGGAN, based on a Manga series. These collaborations with Japanese Production houses will definitely add to Netflix’s fast-growing anime engine and bring this content to an international audience.

Citizen Watches Collaborates with Captain Marvel, Sponsors World Premiere

Last week, Citizen Watches sponsored the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ latest film Captain Marvel. The movie, which centres around Marvel’s biggest female superhero, released on March 8th, which also happens to be International Women’s Day. This interesting collaboration is based on a significant part of the storyline, of Captain Marvel’s superpowers being fuelled by light; a feature that is in line with the watch brand’s host of solar-powered Eco Drive timepieces. The company has also launched three new Marvel watches that will join the already existing Marvel collection. All of these new pieces are light powered and eco-friendly, and each features the logo and design influences from the iconic Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel character. The involvement of the storyline to develop the new products is definitely clever strategy, likely to appeal to comic fans worldwide.

Disney And Accenture Create Unique ‘Dumbo’ Posters

Disney is working with Accenture Interactive to enhance the experience of movie-goers. Disney will feature a facial-recognition photo booth in Austin to promote the live-action remake of the movie Dumbo. The two companies have collaborated through Studio Lab to develop the production, distribution and marketing of the entertainment business. The star of this collaboration is the photo-booth feature that will use facial recognition technology to recognise the facial expression of the subject and relay it within a poster. Expressions ranging from sad to happy are presented for the subject to copy through the presentation of pictures of Dumbo expressing the same emotion. Accenture Interactive is working with Disney on a three-year partnership to explore and improve the movie-going experience, with the evolution of movie posters in particular. With this partnership, movie houses and technology enterprises can collaborate to bring an unparalleled experience for cinema lovers and further customize the experience.

Dailymotion Collaborates with NBA G League 

The famous video platform, Dailymotion, has announced a multi-year partnership with NBA G League, the NBA’s official minor league. Dailymotion will now use its advanced technology to host and stream NBA G League’s video-on-demand content on all its owned and operated properties. The basketball league will also distribute content from over 1300 games over the course of two seasons on Dailymotion to be available to a global audience of more than 250 million people. Dailymotion will also feature a hyper-personalized recommendation engine that will allow content to be targeted to fans based on their unique preferences in order to create a more engaged and loyal following. In the past two years, over 53 per cent of all NBA players have boasted of experience from NBA G League, boosting the latter’s recognition as the developer of elite basketball talent. This collaboration will shine more light on the NBA G League and will allow it to reach more sport enthusiasts and develop new audiences – thereby allowing it to expand its footprint both domestically and around the globe.

Tip of the Week

A concept of a show or film is not protectable under copyright.  However, that concept expressed in the form of a script, story, video recording, etc. is protectable.
 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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