MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT LAW

Over the last few years, the Media and Entertainment Industry (M&E) has grown and gained significance in India. It is estimated to generate approximately USD 35 million in revenue. The M&E Industry has gained innovative technological trends and increase in internet usage by suppliers and consumers.

Being a wide sector, there is high probability of misuse in M&E. For effective regulation, various legislations with equally varying purposes have been enacted. Legislations like Cinematograph Act, 1952, The Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995, The Information Technology Act, 2000 is applicable for regulating content on mediums of exhibition like cinema theatres, television and internet.

Legislations like Copyright Act, 1957 and Trademarks Act 1999 was enacted for protecting intellectual properties like trademark and copyrights. The punishments for offences such as defamation, hurting religious sentiments, etc. that take place in this industry are dealt under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The first area of concern in the M&E sector is Right to free speech and censorship. The freedom of communication and expression through mediums such as electronic media and published articles is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Article 19 guarantees freedom of speech as an integral aspect of each individual’s right to self- development.

In Brij Bhushan & others vs. State of Delhi, the court held that censorship will impose obvious restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.

Various authoritative bodies like CBFC, I&B Ministry are imposing restrictions by censoring films to curtail creative freedom of speech and expression. Examples of such censored films include Udta Punjab, Lipstick under My Bhurkha etc. As Democracy is the most important feature in today’s world and an effective democracy requires free expression of opinion.

The second area of concern in the M&E Sector is copyright infringement and trademark protection. The Copyright Act, 1957 provides copyright protection and registration of literary, drama, music, sound recording and artistic work. The main purpose of the act is to prevent the abuse of monopolies provided by the copyrights and creating an equal balance between individual rights and public interest. The Trademarks Act of 1999 mandates protection to names, titles, word, letter, graphic artwork, shape of products, words and combination of colors. This act incorporates the provisions for remedies in case of infringement of trademark.

The third area of concern is piracy. Online piracy means stealing an owner’s property from the internet that has already been licensed and resulting in damage and loss. Under the M&E Industry, the film sector loses $2.8 billion of its total revenue to piracy every year. The rise of digital downloads and availability of cheap rental options makes the movie theatre business go down. The major source of piracy is because of cam- cording in theatres and release of films in other countries a day before the release of the film. These films are released online even before the actual release.

To prevent piracy of the films, producers and film makers has to obtain John Doe orders from the court. In Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India, the court held that removal of the online content should be done only if the adjudicatory body issues an order compelling intermediaries to remove the online content. When the involved parties fail to comply with the order to eliminate illegal content, the Supreme Court decision protects the intermediaries from liability.

Under the Copyrights Act, 1957, sections 54 to 62 deals with the provisions of civil remedies that are available for copyright protection in civil courts. Section 63 to section 70 deals with the provisions for criminal remedy when a person knowingly infringes the copyright in a work, other rights conferred by the act or knowingly abets the infringement.

Any person held guilty will be prisoned up to 3 years but not less than 6 months, has to pay fine not less than fifty thousand rupees but may extend up to 2 lakhs, searching and seizure of the infringing goods and delivery of the infringed goods to the owner. There has been an increase in the criminal cases filed for hurting of religious sentiments, defamation, sale of obscene objects, etc. Most complaints filed are for the sake of publicity and media attention. The nuisance caused due to such cases is a big hurdle in the industry.

The M&E industry is a continually innovating industry which is governed by multiple regulations. The key areas of concern – Right to free speech and censorship, Trademark infringement and Piracy are driving factors to ensure protection of right and establish fair rules of playing in the market. Legislations in these areas pave the way for the expansion of the industry.

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