Legal issues in entertainment
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Ameet Naik,Founding And Managing Partner, Naik Naik & Company Advocates
A major legal issue that the media and entertainment industry is grappling with in its day-to-day functioning is the issue of infringement actions. While intellectual property is becoming valuable and people are monetising it, you see a lot of litigation. When we act for producers, there are a lot of last minute lawsuits filed in courts to restrain the release of films. Those are blackmail actions. Somebody gets up and says that there is a similarity to their script or the idea was stolen from the person little knowing that there is no copyright in an idea but in the expression of the idea. We have seen that trend of litigation in films like Ghajini, Jail, Ra.One, Jannat, etc. To put it simply, there is a lot of action taken very close to the release of the film. Some are genuine while some are not.
The increase in the number of litigation cases is because today, the value of films is huge. Even satellite deal is very important. So, while you might not stop a theatrical release, you will try your best to stop a satellite release. Secondly, international studios are very conscious of protecting their rights because remaking international films without license is incorrect and the Indian courts are active on such cases. For example, the Indian producers who made Knock Out (which was unauthorised remake of Phone Booth) were sued by 20th Century Fox and the producers had to pay a portion of their revenues to the international studio in order to release their film because the judge viewed the films.
Another issue facing media and entertainment industry is the stealing of titles and there is no copyright in titles. You also see a lot of litigation in case of censorship. Around one and a half years ago, Prakash Jha's Aarakshan was banned. A PIL was filed against The Dirty Picture's satellite release as they want to cultivate a new slot.
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