"Change is the only constant."
This quote by Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, is a timeless reminder that evolution is permanent. The adage remains profoundly relevant in our ever-shifting world, particularly in light of the recent developments in India's media, entertainment and gaming sector. Some of the recent changes impacting the media and entertainment industry includes the release of new guidelines by the Department of Consumer Affairs, for health celebrities and influencers, as well as steps being taken by the online curated content platforms to comply with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 ("IT Rules, 2021").
In parallel, the gaming sector, too, witnessed a significant shift with the Central Government imposing a 28% (twenty-eight per cent) Goods and Services Tax ("GST") on deposits made in real money games, sending shockwaves through the entire gaming industry.
We have captured more of such happenings in the media, entertainment and gaming sectors over the month of August, 2023 in our sixteenth edition of The Recap.
T-Series copyright infringement case: Delhi HC restrains Goldmines Telefilms from uploading songs of 14 movies
The Delhi High Court ("Delhi HC"), responding to a copyright dispute between T-Series and Goldmines Telefilms, has directed Goldmines Telefilms to halt the uploading of songs from 14 (fourteen) Hindi movies on YouTube after T-Series claimed copyright ownership over the songs. T- Series alleged that Goldmines Telefilms uploaded these songs without permission. The court framed key questions regarding the extent of T-Series' rights to the songs and whether Goldmines Telefilms had the right to independently use the audio-visual songs on platforms like YouTube. In an order by Justice Prathiba Singh on August 01, 2023, Goldmines Telefilms was directed not to upload additional audio or audio-visual content from the movies beyond what was already uploaded on YouTube until the next hearing, maintaining the status quo until the injunction application is resolved. The court noted that analyzing assignment deeds and considering both sides' arguments would be crucial in resolving the complex issues. The next hearing of the case was scheduled for September 11, 2023. You may access the Delhi HC order as available on Livelaw website here.
Delhi HC restrains 22 'Rogue Websites' ahead of Asia Cup
The Delhi HC, in its order dated August 02, 2023, has temporarily restrained 22 (twenty-two) "rogue websites" from broadcasting or sharing content related to the ongoing Asia Cup cricket matches. The Delhi HC's order is pursuant to an interim application filed by Star India and Novi Digital Entertainment seeking relief against unauthorized dissemination of the tournament's matches. The court's order emphasises the financial impact of unauthorised broadcasting on the plaintiffs. Domain name registrars have been directed to block the domains and reveal necessary site details. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ("MeitY"), the Department of Technology ("DoT"), and Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") were also directed to block the sites within 24 (twenty-four) hours. The plaintiffs have also been allowed to identify additional rogue sites for immediate blocking upon notification. The main lawsuit involves summons to the defendants with a 30 (thirty) day window for a response, with the case scheduled for December 19, 2023.
You may access the Delhi HC order as available on the Bar and Bench website here.
Strengthening self-regulation and content ethics for over-the-top Platforms
The Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation ("IDMIF") and the Internet and Mobile Association of India ("IAMAI"), two significant organizations in the Indian Over-the-Top ("OTT") ecosystem, have reportedly through separate but similar letters, communicated to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ("MIB") that OTT platforms are actively ensuring compliance with the IT Rules 2021. The letters come in response to MIB's discussion with several online curated content platforms ("OCCPs") about the use of vulgarity, harsh language, and violence in OTT content. Both IDMIF and IAMAI in their letters have emphasized how OTT platforms are committed to adhering to the code of ethics outlined in the IT Rules 2021. The OCCPs are reportedly taking precautions to prevent their content from adversely affecting India's sovereignty, integrity, or security, and are also being cautious in portraying sensitive subjects. The OCCPs are also taking steps to ensure ethical content creation, including acquainting creators with the code of ethics under the IT Rules 2021 and consulting experts for addressing sensitive topics. IDMIF and IAMAI have additionally promised to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanisms by educating members regarding their duties as OCCPs, advising on age ratings, increasing awareness of access controls, running awareness campaigns, and supervising review procedures.
You may access this update as reported by the Economic Times here.
Supreme Court highlights the need for stronger self-regulation code for TV Channels
The Supreme Court ("SC") has asserted the inadequacy of self-regulation within television channels during the hearing of an appeal filed by the News Broadcasters Association ("NBA"). The appeal was in respect of a Bombay High Court ruling which contained adverse remarks against the NBA for lacking appropriate deterrents in its self-regulation model for television channels. The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra, has underscored the necessity for stringent rules, noting that the current penalties fail to have a deterrent effect on the TV channels. The court's concern was evident as it questioned the effectiveness of a meagre INR 1 lakh (one lakh) (approximately USD 1,340) penalty, especially considering the significantly higher earnings of the channels. In light of these issues, the court intends to bolster the regulatory framework, seeking suggestions on the existing penalty for news channels found in violation of NBA guidelines. The court has acknowledged the submission made by Senior Counsel Arvind Datar, representing NBA, to gather recommendations on self-regulation from former SC judge, Justice AK Sikri, who presently chairs the self-regulatory mechanism.
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