The present suit has been filed under Order VI Rule 1 of the O.S. Rules r/w Section 55 and 62 of the Copyright Act and Order VII Rule 1 of the CPC. Plaintiff seeks the declaration of him being the sole and exclusive right to the copyright holder for broadcasting the movie “Temper.” Plaintiff has sought a permanent injunction against the Defendants to restrain them from exploiting or exhibiting their film.
The second Defendant has countered this by declaring them to be the sole and exclusive video copyright holder and has sought a permanent injunction against the Plaintiff and the Defendant from exhibiting or exploiting the video copyright of the film.
The plaintiff has stated they operate a renowned television network in South India and the producer of the film is the first Defendant. As per an Assignment Agreement made on 13.11.2014, the first Defendant assigned the copyright of this film to Plaintiff for a consideration of Rs. 7,75,00,000. According to this agreement, Plaintiff was entitled to pay Rs. 77,50,000 on the execution date of the agreement and subsequently a sum of Rs. 1,16,25,000 on the completion of half of the shooting of the film and further a sum of Rs. 1,16,25,000 during the launch of the audio of the film, a sum of Rs. 42,50,000 was to be paid a day before the theatrical release to the first Defendant, a sum of Rs. 10,00,000 to the first Defendant on handling the lab letter and a censor certificate to Plaintiff. Also, a sum of Rs. 25,00,000 was to be paid on the First Defendant handing over the digital intermediate data files of the movie. These payments have been made in full and the receipts were also acknowledged by the first Defendant has been stated by the Plaintiff. There has been a Supplementary Agreement made between the first Defendant and Plaintiff on 11.02.2015.
Plaintiff has claimed the movie was titled “Nenorakkam” tentatively when the Assignment Agreement was executed. It was later that when the Supplementary Agreement was executed that the name of the film was changed to “Temper.” As per the Plaintiff’s claims, the assignment was supposed to be wide in scope and thus, covered the exclusive rights to broadcast the movie on broadband, CVD, VCD, etc. on 12.11.2014 a letter had been issued by the first Defendant to Prasad Film Laboratories Pvt. Ltd where the lab was directed to deliver the sound negatives and censored version of the movie negatives to the Plaintiff. Another letter dated 12.02.2015 directed Prasad Lab to reiterate the assignment of the copyright to Plaintiff. Upon receipt of the full sale consideration, the first Defendant handed over the censor certificate, the DPX files, HD copy with 5.1 audio, 5.1 audio wave files, posters, sub-titles, and trailer on 12.02.2015. The movie released on 13.02.2015. the songs and the clippings of the movies were exploited multiple times by Plaintiff by telecasting them on the channel Gemini TV on 21.0.2015, 09.08.2015, and 18.10.2015.
Plaintiff has stated that the second Defendant has uploaded the movie on YouTube when the second Defendant did not have the right to do so. Thus, it shall be treated as an infringement of copyright, and YouTube on discovering this infringement took down the movie. YouTube requested that Plaintiff receive the order of the Court with respect to the conflicting claims made by Plaintiff and the second Defendant. As per the claims of the second Defendant, the copyright of the film was not assigned to Plaintiff and the two agreements mentioned by Plaintiff are fabricated. It was the first Defendant who agreed to not assign the rights to a third party.
The second Defendant has termed the assignment to Plaintiff to be in violation of the terms and conditions of the Video Agreement which was made prior to the Assignment Agreement. As per the Video Agreement, Rs. 14,00,000 was paid as consideration for the rights by the second Defendant. The second Defendant further stated that he was given the DPX files, HD copy with 5.1 audio, 5.1 audio wave files, posters, etc. by the first Defendant. The second Defendant stated they have the right only of the video in the digital format and do not claim the right with respect to the broadcasting of it through theatre or satellite.
The first Defendant has failed to appear and file a written statement upon the receipt of suit summons and thus, the first Defendant has been set ex parte.
- Whether the alleged agreement made between the first and the second Defendant would count as a concluded contract for claiming the copyright with respect to the movie “Temper”?
- Who among the Plaintiff and the Second Defendant has the copyright of the movie “Temper”?
- Whether the agreement dated 13.11.2014 is valid and has been executed in the favour of Plaintiff by the first Defendant but affects the rights of the second Defendant?
- Whether the parties are entitled to any other reliefs?
The documentary evidence provided by the second Defendant failed to establish the consideration passed on 11.11.2014 with respect to the Video Agreement. The evidence provided with regard to the payment of consideration was contradictory to the issuance of a post-dated cheque of Rs. 12,40,000. It was elucidated by Plaintiff that the spelling of Parameswara in Parameshwara Arts Production in the Video Agreement did not match the spelling in the other documents as it is spelt without the letter ‘h.’ However, this cannot be the only basis upon which the Video Agreement could be held to be invalid.
The Assignment Agreement in clause 4 mentions that the consideration is Rs. 7,75,00,000 and clause 6 mentions the assignee is entitled to broadcast the movie via VCD, DVD, cable, television broadcast, Internet, world satellite, etc. Thus, it can be seen that clause 6 of this agreement and the Video Agreement are in conflict. As per clause 8, the assigner was convinced to not assign the rights elucidated under clause 6 to a third party. Clause 9 mentions that the assignee is entitled to have exclusive rights which are listed in the Assignment Agreement.
Plaintiff has placed reliance on the Supplementary Agreement and by way of clause 4 has stated that the assignee is entitled to receive a full sale consideration of Rs. 7,75,00,000. Clause 5 states that the assignor had delivered the lab letter which confirmed the rights of the assignee, and a digital intermediate data file was also handed over simultaneously to the assignor. A censor certificate has been produced by Plaintiff and also the confirmation letter from Prasad Lab. By way of Section 18 of the Copyright Act, the present assignment can be seen to be with respect to future work, but the Plaintiff has paid the entire sale consideration. Clauses 8 and 9 are not to be seen in the Video Agreement. It can be inferred that the second Defendant has failed to prove that any consideration was paid on the alleged execution date of the Video Agreement.
Thus, it can be said that the Assignment Agreement is valid, and Plaintiff is the real owner of the copyright of the film. Plaintiff is entitled to a permanent injunction against the Defendants. The first Defendant is liable to pay a sum of Rs. 1,50,000 as costs to Plaintiff and also a sum of Rs. 1,00,000 as costs to the second Defendant.
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