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The story dates before online streaming platforms ruled our television screens. Those weekends we used to wait for a special movie screening on our favourite television channels. Of course, not all is lost. Majority of the population is still largely dependent upon cable and private operators for entertainment purposes. Little do people know that the reel flashing on our screens requires great deal of formal written-down agreements? This whole process is simply termed as ‘broadcasting’. This “wireless diffusion” in the form of “signs, sounds or visual images” forms part of the realm of Copyright. Re-broadcasting, charging for such broadcast, making sound or video recording together with reproduction of the same and selling or hiring any sound recording or visual recording, are collectively regarded as ‘broadcasting rights’. The scope is huge and so is the number of agreements and formalities behind broadcasting. To name a few, digital agreements, publication agreements, film agreements, satellite rights etc, all lays under the broadcasting domain.
Prior this month, owing to exploitation of legal rights vested in films, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) approached the Bombay High Court to restrain the defendants from broadcasting the same.
The battle journey goes like this. 29 years old Mumbai-headquartered broadcasting giant, Zee Entertainment is one of the broadcasters of the 1996 movie “Jung” starring Mithun Chakraborthy, Ajay Devgan, Aditya Pancholi together with other renowned celebrities as well as of the 1979 blockbuster “Kartavya” starring bollywood legends Dharmendra, Rekha, Aruna Irani, amongst others. Not so long ago, ZEEL witnessed a fishy behavior on the part of rivals. Upon data collection, it found that television channels namely, “Maha Movie” owned by Teleone Consumers Products Private Limited and “Manoranjan TV” belonging to Creative Channel Advertising and Marketing Private Ltd. were broadcasting the above-mentioned films. Not to miss, neither of the defendants received any prior authorization, license or assignment rights per se to broadcast these films.
ZEEL substantiated its arguments by submitting a cumulative data record attained from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) clearly pointing that till July 2, 2020 Maha Movie aired “Jung” thirty-seven times and “Kartavya” thirty-two times. Not just that, the second defendant Manoranjan TV showcased “Jung” forty-two times and “Kartavya” nine-times. This indicates a prima facie case of blatant violation by the defendant of film and broadcasting rights vested with ZEEL.
On June 16, 2020, Hon’ble Justice Mr. KR Shriram of the Bombay High Court heard final arguments subsequently ruling the case in favour of ZEEL. An injunction order restraining both the defendants from broadcasting either of the movies on any platforms using any medium along with barring them from transferring, creating or alienating any rights vested in the suit movies, was passed.