Intellectual Property Rights in Bollywood

The Indian media and entertainment industry particularly the film industry i.e., Bollywood has observed tremendous growth and has developed by leaps and bounds in terms of content generation, making of outlets, and employment. The film industry has become one of the most fastest growing sectors in India. The content produced by the producers and directors is original, creative and authentic, which at the same time requires protection, as in many cases the content can be exploited or illegally used. It is in the recent years, that the industry has woken up to the need for written contracts and for claiming protection under the Intellectual Property Rights, mainly because of the paradigm shift in the industry in the recent decades. Henceforth, in terms of the original and creative content creation, it is only the domain of Intellectual Property Rights which acts as a major safeguard against any kind of the infringement of the originality and creativity of the makers, and producers; recognition to the talents of the creators and ensuring the dissemination of original, authentic and genuine works among the general public. Among the intellectual property rights, copyright is the area which provides protection to the Bollywood industry, as it subsides various works in which copyright can be claimed with respect to the media and entertainment industry. The various works in which copyright exists with reference to Bollywood can be summarised below:

The Copyright Act, 1957: Earlier, the copyright act had no provisions related to the protection of the media and entertainment, and it was only after the amendments which embarked a new era for the industry as it included provisions for protection of the literary works of the author, musical works and sound recordings. Section 2(f) of the act defines cinematograph film. Further, Section 13 of the Act has stated that copyright protection can be granted to the literary works, dramatic works, artistic works, cinematograph films and musical recordings. Secondly, the original owner and author has been provided with the rights of ownership and with respect to musical works, there are performer rights and moral rights available for the original creators. The copyright also exists in music composers, lyricists, and writers. The copyright has been introduced for providing protection to the creator and his representatives for the original works and prevents such rights from being copied or reproduced without his prior consent. If there is any kind of illegal copying and exploitation of the works, the it will result in the offence of copyright infringement.

The International legislation such as Berne Convention, Rome Convention the World Intellectual property organization are the treaties which have provisions for protecting the works of the performers, or any kind of work in the form of sound or video, which can also include cinematograph films.

The Indian film industry i.e., Bollywood has faced various issues related to copyright, which are stated below:

In the case of Shree Venkatesh Films vs Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the plaintiffs filed a case of copyright infringement against the respondents, alleging that the movie ‘Namaste London’ was a copy of the already made film in Bengali, and relied on the judgment of R.G. Anand case. On the other hand, respondents, argued that copying with respect to cinematograph film basically implies a carbon copy or the replication of the work, and the work of the respondents is original and different. The Calcutta High court passed an ad-interim order in the favour of the plaintiffs, for a prima facie infringement with respect to similar story and screenplay in the film.

In the case of XYZ Films V UTV Motion Pictures, 2016, the plaintiffs XYZ films filed a case against the defendants UTV Motion Pictures alleging that the defendants have copied the content of their already released film Raid: The Redemption and filed a case of copyright infringement claiming injunction for the infringement caused. Henceforth, the Bombay High Court opined that the plaintiff had no copyright on the central theme of the film, and stated that the scenes portrayed by the defendants in the film come under the dimension of a general idea, and thus the plaintiffs cannot claim copyright over the ‘generalised idea’.

Thus, the change in the laws of copyright has wholly changed the dimension of the media and entertainment industry, as now they are able to protect their original and authentic content from any kind of violation. However, it is also important to state that such laws must not be taken advantage of, and the companies must not file cases for the sake of business competitions, which actually would make the law turn substandard.