Conference/Seminars/LecturesLaw School News

The Constitutional Law Society is organising a panel discussion on ‘Strategic Litigation on Digital Rights: Examining Issues of Online Content Moderation, Internet Shutdowns and Intermediary Regulations’ that is being organised in collaboration with the Internet Freedom Foundation. We will be joined for this panel discussion by our eminent panellists, Mr. Tanmay Singh, Mr. Krishnesh Bapat and Ms. Anandita Mishra.

‘Big Brother’ from George Orwell’s 1984 has come to life in this internet age as Governments across the globe, seemingly desire to arrest the growth of the thriving digital space, which has become the newest avenue of disseminating information and ideas to the global populace. The lack of any clear boundaries on the limits of the powers of the authorities allows for the infringement of the privacy of their citizens and also allows for the muzzling of free speech through surveillance, internet shutdowns, etc.  In light of numerous internet shutdowns in India, especially UT of J&K, the intermediary guidelines encroaching on the freedom of speech of the citizens, and the increased surveillance by the government in various forms, it is crucial to secure free speech through the intervention of the Constitutional safeguards in place.

Recently, the Union Government has also withdrawn the Personal Data Protection Bill, which was first proposed in 2019, after a pushback from a range of stakeholders such as big tech companies and civil society activists. India, being one of the largest internet markets in the world, has no basic framework to protect the privacy of its citizens, and the Government shows no signs of urgency. This paves the way for blatant abuses of power by authorities to control the dissemination of information as well as curb liberties granted by the Constitution.

About IFF:

The Internet Freedom Foundation (“IFF”) is a registered charitable trust which advocates to protect and advance constitutional freedoms in a digital society. It works across a wide spectrum of issues, with expertise in free speech, electronic surveillance, data protection, net neutrality and innovation; and aims to champion privacy protections, digital security, and individual freedoms in the digital age.

About our Panellists:

Mr. Tanmay Singh is a Senior Litigation Counsel at IFF. He is a graduate of National Law School of India University (2013) and completed his Masters from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.

Mr. Krishnesh Bapat is an Associate Litigation Counsel at IFF and graduated from Jindal Global Law School in 2019.

Ms. Anandita Mishra is an Associate Litigation Counsel at IFF and graduated from National Law University Odisha in 2019.

The guest lecture will be held on the 30th of August, 2022(Tuesday) from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm on Google Meet. All interested people are requested to register themselves for the same on the Google form.

Bombay High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: While refusing to restrain Star India and Netflix from streaming the film ‘83’ on their respective broadcasting portals, R.I. Chagla, J., observed that, prospective owner of copyright in a future work may also assign to any person the copyright in the future work.

Mad Man productions had filed a suit against Reliance Entertainment Studios Pvt. Ltd, Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd., Star India Pvt. Ltd., Netflix Global LLC, and others seeking a stay against the digital release of the film 83 for alleged copyright infringement.

Senior Counsel, Virag Tulzapurkar had applied for ad-interim relief seeking an order of injunction restraining the defendants 1 to 5 from releasing, broadcasting, telecasting and/or exploiting or using any of the elements of the cinematograph film through satellite, digital or like media.

In the present suit it was stated that the cause of action arose on 10th February, 2022 when the plaintiff learnt of unauthorized delivery of the subject film vide an email and that the cause of action was continuing one.

It was submitted that the plaintiff’s consent was required for delivery of the subject film for exploitation on satellite and/or digital media by defendants’ 4 and 5. Plaintiff had been vested 37.5% of intellectual property rights in the subject film such that the plaintiff, defendants 1 to 6 would hold intellectual property rights.

Under Clause 22 of the Consent Terms, it was provided that the exploitation rights of the subject film shall immediately vest exclusively and absolutely in the Plaintiff for the period after the ‘First Cycle’ as defined in what is referred to as the ‘83 Agreement’.

The OTT platforms argued that they had been granted rights through agreements which were not under challenge, way before the consent terms between Mad Man and Reliance. They also contended that Mad Man’s contractual rights would begin only after 10 years, till then Reliance had exclusive rights over the film.

High Court noted that the third-party rights which included the respective Satellite and Digital Rights of defendants 4 to 5 were already created in respect of the subject film “83”. Further, it was observed that all intellectual Property Rights and exploitation rights shall immediately vest in the company, i.e. defendant 3 subject to following rights already granted to third parties as on the date of award.

Bench opined that there was no dispute insofar as the agreements respectively assigning and licensing the Satellite and Digital Rights in favour of defendants 4 and 5.

In Court’s prima facie view, a reading of sub-clauses as well as clause 31 which provided for obtaining any and all necessary third party approvals in whose favor any right or interest created in respect of the Film “33”, makes it clear that these clauses would necessarily apply to future agreements entered into between the Defendant No. 1 and third parties for exploitation of Digital and/or Satellite Rights of the subject film.

Hence High Court held that prima facie, the plaintiff cannot claim any right to intellectual property over and above such antecedent rights already created in favor of defendant 4 and 5.

Defendant No. 4 and Defendant No. 5 having antecedent Satellite Broadcasting Rights and Digital Rights respectively for the period of 10 years defined as the ‘First Cycle’ cannot be restrained from exercising such rights. The Plaintiff is vested with the exploitation rights in the subject film only after the period of the First Cycle.

It is provided that the owner of copyright in an existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in a future work may assign to any person the copyright either wholly or partially and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the whole of the copyright or any part thereof.

In Court’s prima facie view, the Plaintiff is not entitled to be granted ad-interim injunction restraining either the Defendant No. 1 and/or Defendants 4 and 5 from exploiting or using any elements of the subject film through satellite and/or digital media without prior written consent of the Plaintiff. [Mad Man Film Ventures (P) Ltd. v. Reliance Entertainment Studios (P) Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 625, decided on 16-3-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Virag Tulzapurkar, Senior Counsel with Mr. Sameer Pandit and Anuj Jain i/b. Wadia Ghandy & Co. for the Applicant / Plaintiff.

Mr. Venkatesh Dhond, Senior Advocate with Mr. Prasad Shenoy, Mr. Saket Mone, Mr. Abhishek Salian and Mr. Devansh Shah i/b. Vidhii Partners for Defendant No.1.

Mr. Sharan Jagtiani, Senior Advocate with Mr. Thomas George, Ms. Tanvi Sinha, Mr. Mudit Tayal, Mr. Priyank, Ms. Aishwarya Parameshwaran i/b. Saikrishna & Associates for Defendant No.4.

Mr. Ashish Kamath, with Mr. Thomas George, Ms. Tanvi Sinha, Mr. Mudit Tayal, Mr. Vismay Malkan, i/b. Saikrishna & Associates for Defendant No.5.