The Bombay High Court granted immediate ad-interim relief to Indian cinema distributor Narendra Hirawat & Co. by demonstrating tolerance against the defendant who breached the consent terms and tried to exploit film rights they sold in the year 2004.
Justice Gautam Patel directed Aftab Music Industries to pull down the 20 Bollywood movies from their YouTube page, whose rights it had assigned to the Plaintiff in perpetuity, and restrained them from claiming any rights over the films till the bench finally decided the suit.
Plaintiffs Narendra Hirawat & Co approached the High Court in a suit stating that the defendants were writing to the plaintiff’s licensees, asking them not to broadcast the films on their respective YouTube channels. Moreover, the defendants were playing these movies on their channels. A few of the films involved in the matter were, Badal, Aadmi, Aa Gale Lag Ja, The Don, Phool aur Angar, Adalat, etc.
Arguments in the Court
The plaintiff contended that the defendant indulged in such practices 17 years after assigning all rights of the films “lock, stock and barrel,” to them.
Narendra Hirawat’s counsel argued that the parties entered into consent terms in another suit nine years ago, where Aftab Music Industries accepted the plaintiff’s right over the film in perpetuity. The defendant claimed it had only sold internet rights to the plaintiff, not YouTube rights.
Observations by the Court
The court called it a “nonsensical” argument observing that YouTube rights couldn’t exist in the absence of the internet. It stated that even though it may be hard for the defendants to believe, YouTube could not run without the internet.
Rejecting the defendant’s request to file a reply, the court observed that the right to a reply does not inure to a defendant who is dishonest and is entirely unmindful of commitments made to the Court.
Justice Patel remarked this was not only a fit case for exemplary costs to be imposed but also for contempt to be issued because the defendants were acting in “willful” and “deliberate” breach of an undertaking given to the court in writing as far back as in 2012.
The court restrained defendants from infringing the applicant’s exclusive copyright in the said films, by making copies or storing them in any medium. It further restrained the defendants from representing to any third party that they own any rights pertaining to the films. It also ordered the disclosure of all agreements they may have entered into with regard to the films.
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