On 16th July 2020, the Bombay High Court heard a matter brought in by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL). ZEEL holds the exclusive liner rights, on demand rights, local cable distribution rights, dubbing rights, home video rights, subtitling rights et al for the movies “Kartavya” and “Jung” in lieu of a Film Assignment Agreement signed and executed between Soham Rockstar Entertainment (Producer of the two movies) and ZEEL. The said rights are held by the plaintiff for a term of 10 years commencing 19th July 2017.
Herein, ZEEL moved the high court because the aforementioned movies were being broadcasted by the TV channels “Maha TV” and “Manoranjan TV” without any authorization from ZEEL. The data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council showcased that Maha TV had broadcasted the movies Jung and Kartavya thirty-seven and thirty-two times respectively. On the other hand, Manoranjan TV had broadcasted the two movies forty-two times and nine times respectively.
ZEEL approached the high court seeking temporary order and injunction restraining the aforementioned channels from broadcasting or exploiting any audio or video clip of the movies on any platform, from creating or transferring any rights in the movies to any third party and from restraining any future broadcast of the movies on the two channels.
Hon’ble Justice K.R. Shriram noted that there was a prima facie case for grant of interim injunction to ZEEL. The court observed that ZEEL had unequivocal, exclusive and absolute rights to broadcast the aforementioned movies on TV and/or DTH connections. The court added that not granting interim injunction to ZEEL would result in a violation of copyright acquired by it in respect of the movies under the Assignment Agreement. The order turned out to be completely in favour of ZEEL as the court noted that the plaintiff would incur irreparable damage and injury if the interim injunction was not granted to it. Moreover, the court added that no equities and the balance of convenience were in favour of the defendants, thereby, making its reason for order in favour of ZEEL very clear.
Clearly, upon reading the facts and observations of the court, there seems to be a prima facie case for grant of interim injunction in favour of the plaintiff. The swiftness of the court to grant the said order underlines the importance of having a detailed and defined Assignment Agreement, thus, discouraging those broadcasters that overstep on the rights of the legitimate broadcasters without realizing the need to acquire any authorization or permission from the latter.
About the movies in light: Jung is a 1996 movie about two brothers, one a police-officer and the other a defence lawyer, who find themselves in a conflict over a man who they believe to be guilty and innocent respectively. The movie stars Mithun Chakraborthy, Ajay Devgn and Aditya Pancholi in lead roles. Kartavya is a 1979 movie about a forest officer working honestly and passionately against a nefarious gang who poached animals and illegally encroached upon government forest land. The movie stars Dharmendra, Rekha, Vinod Mehra and Aruna Irani in lead roles.
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