Any visual recording with an accompanying sound recording is referred to as a
"cinematograph film," as is any recording made using a similar recording
procedure as well as video films. The ambiguity about cinematograph film
protection under depending on how the topic is now understood, copyright law may
result. One is that only the medium, not the content, belongs to the film
producers, necessitating a need for limited protection.
A film is regarded to
have been copied, on the other hand, if there is a significant similarity
between the defendant's film and the plaintiff's film, as determined by the look
and feel test, according to the recent trend in various court rulings.
Because remakes of original films cannot be made without the producer's consent,
the protection of cinematograph films is now in the producers' favor. However,
when remakes are made, no component of the original recording is reproduced. In
light of this, the current research evaluates the numerous choices in order to
assess the relative merits of the two techniques. The legal confusion caused by
the court's back-and-forth decisions regarding copyright protection for
cinematograph films has been highlighted.
Conflicts have arisen between producers and other contributors, such as
scriptwriters and musical composers, disputing the copyright of the script and
the music used in the movie. This essay makes an effort to comprehend the
existing Indian legal position on a conflict of this kind of copyright and to
remedy the legal gaps.
In the years following the TRIPs Agreement, the protection of film and the
problem of cinema piracy really took off. With the introduction of the WTO and
economic liberalization, nations like India made significant modifications to
their intellectual property laws, including addressing the problem of movie
piracy. The entertainment business in India has recently experienced very rapid
expansion, especially the film industry.
Despite periods of economic recession, the industry has continued to expand. Any
visual recording with an accompanying sound recording is referred to as a
"cinematograph film," as is any recording made using a similar recording
procedure as well as video films. "Visual recording" refers to any
It also includes saving the recording on any electronic medium from which moving
images may be extracted. As a result, the recorded work that contains moving
images or visuals is referred to as a cinematograph film. It's important to
remember that the recording has always been considered to be part of the
definition because the content belongs to the content providers.
The most challenging and complex issues for local laws across the world are
presented in film or other audiovisual works. The copyright of "cinematographic
work" belongs to employers under the legislation of the common law nations.
Co-authors are granted copyright to cinematic works under the civil law system's
copyright regulations because content creators own it.
Original cinematographic works were protected as an independent subject matter
under the 1908 Act of the Berne Convention, whereas unoriginal cinematographic
creations were protected as a collection of photographs.
It is reported that the Indian judiciary has ruled in favor of declaring that
films that solely draw inspiration from other works of literary or artistic
merit are not violating any copyrights.
The idea of substantial taking or copying is central to the law of copyright
infringement. Therefore, if the defendant can demonstrate that the copying was
not substantial and that he handled the job differently than the plaintiff had,
there is no evidence of infringement. The current study looks at how Indian
courts have changed their stance on copyright protection for cinematograph films
from medium-based protection to content-based protection, as well as the reasons
for the change. Additionally, the potential gaps have been discovered.
Objectives Of The Study
- To know the ideology behind the copyright of cinematographic work
- To know its intellectual right in India and also to compare with other
- To know the conflicts regarding the copyright of cinematographic films.
Scope Or Purpose Of The Study:
The copyright Act appears to be skewed in favour of the creator of the
cinematograph films, despite the fact that the filmmaking process involves the
creativity of a very large number of people. Therefore, it's critical to examine
if the copyright Act prevents these creators' rights from being exploited and,
if so, what steps should be made to safeguard those rights.
The research methodology that is used in this paper is doctrinal research
Doctrinal methodology refers to a study that has been done on a legal
proposition or proposition using the reasoning power to analyze the current
statute provisions and instances. Research into doctrine is always dependent on
secondary information obtained from authority. Even while information can be
received from both primary and secondary sources, doctrinal research never deals
with the primary information of social realities that are gathered directly from
surveys, field research, or any other empirical means.
Authorship Or Ownership Of Cinematic Copyright:
Two types of acknowledgements are given in relation to copyrighted works under
the Copyright Act: one is authorship and the other is ownership of the work. The
author is typically regarded as the first owner of the copyright, unless certain
circumstances apply in which case this may not be the case.
A cinematograph film is the outcome of the combined efforts of many people,
including the scriptwriter, the director, the actors, the composer of the music,
etc. However, when it comes to granting rights, the copyright Act considers the
film's producer to be the only creator and owner of the cinematograph films.
Copyright And Its Part In Cinematographic Field:
The first motion pictures were released in India in 1896, and piracy started to
receive legal attention and make it to the courts in 1928. Before the Brussels
Act, movies lacked autonomous copyrights and were unable to request copyright
protection because of the components that made up the movie, such as the
narrative, the music, and so on.
The Brussels Act of 1948, which updated the
Berne Convention, led to the recognition of cinematograph films as independent
copyrights after the 1950s, when India had developed into one of the world's
greatest producers of motion pictures. In the film industry, contracts were
handled exclusively orally for a long time. Due to the need for Intellectual
Property (IP) laws, which were implemented in reaction to the litigation that
resulted from disagreements, copyright violations, breach of contract, etc.,
this had to change.
One of the relevant provisions in relation to the script, music, and other works
that are part of films is section 17(b), which states that if a photograph is
taken, a painting is created, a portrait is drawn, an engraving is made, or a
cinematograph film is produced for valuable consideration at the request of any
person, that person shall, absent any agreement to the contrary, be the first
owner of the copyright therein.
One of the relevant provisions is section 17(b), which states that in the case
of a photograph taken, a painting or portrait drawn, an engraving, or a
cinematograph film made, for valuable consideration at the instance of any
person, such person shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be
the first owner of the copyright therein.
This provision is relevant in context
to works which are included in films, such as scripts, music, and such other
works. This means that the producer, not the author, will be regarded as the
initial owner of copyright if the underlying work is a commissioned production.
This clause received a lot of criticism, especially from writers of scripts and
Section 18 of the law, which deals with copyright assignments, is another
In 2012, a proviso was added to section 18 that read: "The author of a literary
or musical work included in a cinematograph film shall not assign or waive the
right to receive royalties to be shared on an equal basis with the assignee of
copyright for the utilization of such work in any form other than for the
communication to the public of the work along with the cinematograph film in a
cinema hall, except to the legal heirs of the authors or to a co-author."
What All Come Cinematic Cowork For Copyright:
It's interesting to note that every piece of copyrighted content in a movie,
including music, acting performances, background paintings, some structures or
other architectural creations that might appear in shots, is governed by a
similar principle. In a similar vein, the filmmaker must be consulted before
another person uses the movie or a portion of it in his or her creative works.
A cinematograph film is viewed more broadly for the purposes of copyright law,
taking into account the dialogue and script, which are considered literary
works; the song lyrics, which are considered musical works; the complete songs,
which are considered sound recordings; posters and advertisements, which are
considered artistic works; and so forth.
A cinematograph film as a whole is entitled to be protected under the Copyright
Act of 1957, even though each of these underlying works is entitled to
independent copyright protection under the Act. It's vital to keep in mind that
copyright only protects the specific way in which a concept has been expressed
by the artist, not the idea itself. An owner of a copyright must demonstrate
that the person who violated it copied legally protected content. Ideas and
historical details are not protected by the copyright, but themes, characters,
dialogue, stories, etc. are copyrightable.
Conflicts Of Copyright In Cinematography Field:
The script, which is a literary work and has its own independent copyright, is
one of many works in the movie that have their own separate copyright. Music
works are granted a distinct copyright. Recently, a number of incidents have
come to light illustrating disputes between a film's producer and screenplay
regarding rights connected to a film's remaking, dubbing rights, etc., or
between a producer of a film and a musical composer regarding the reuse of the
music included in the film.
Another point of contention is the fact that the
existing copyright laws completely ignore the film's director, with many
suggesting that the filmmaker and producer should both be accorded co-authorship
of the work.
Producers And Other Stake Holders:
In the year 1977, In the case of Indian Performing Right Society v. Eastern
India Motion Pictures Association (IPRS), IPRS published their tariff
structure in the Gazette of India and the Statesman, outlining the license costs
for public performances of musical works and lyrics that were a part of their
repertory. Such musical compositions and lyrics were the property of Indian
lyricists who predominantly wrote lyrics for Bollywood films or other regional
cinema. Many pieces of foreign music and lyrics belonged to foreigners as well.
After hearing the news, the film's producers filed an objection with the
Copyright Board, claiming that they were the rightful owners of the work and
that the composers and lyricists did not possess any copyright or public
performance rights for the music and lyrics used in the cinematic flicks.
Their main argument was that because they commissioned these pieces for their
films, they owned the final product. On the other side, the creators of such
works contended that while the synchronization rights to the music with the film
would belong to the producers, the other rights, such as the public performance
rights, would still belong to the creators. The Supreme Court upheld the high
court's ruling after hearing an additional appeal, upholding the producers'
rights after the Copyright Board's decision in favor of authors was later
reversed by that court.
According to the Supreme Court's ruling, producers of motion pictures possessed
ownership rights in the underlying works, such as music and lyrics, under
section 17 provisos (b) and (c) of the copyright Act.
According to the Supreme
Court, section 17, proviso (b) states that "when a producer of a cinematograph
film commissions a composer of music or a lyricist for reward or valuable
consideration for the purpose of making his cinematograph film, or composing
music or lyric therefore, i.e., the sounds for incorporation or absorption in the
sound track associated with the film, which was already indicated, are included
in a cinematograph film, he then becomes the first owner of the copyright
Unless there is a contract to the contrary between the composer of the
lyric or music on the one hand and the producer of the cinematograph film on the
other, no copyright exists in the composer of the lyric or music so composed.
The Supreme Court goes on to say that case of proviso (c), when the composer of
the music or lyrics is engaged under a contract of employment or apprenticeship
to write the work, results in the same outcome.
Rights Of Directors Under Cinematographic Field:
Because sections 17(f) and 17(g) of the draught copyright (Amendment) Bill,
2010, were not included in the final Act, some intellectual property rights
experts felt that the final 2012 modifications to the copyright Act were a
missed opportunity. The proposed bill's provisions recognized the director's
The standing committee believed that this proposal would negatively impact the
interests of the film industry. The committee claimed that if lyricists' and
composers' rights weren't recognized, the business wouldn't grow, but when it
came to directors, it thought the rights would have a negative impact. The fact
that the reasons were not clearly stated made the evident discrimination against
directors even clearer. A director's contribution to the movie is essential. The
director serves as the narrator as the audience watches the movie. The director
develops the film's overall vision. Legal and financial responsibility for the
movie is assumed by the producer.
Because of this, even if the producer did not actually create the work, he is
sometimes awarded authorship credit. It is important to not ignore the
director's function as a key creator. Therefore, it is clear that the copyright
Act is prejudiced in that it does not recognize the director's right.
Conflict Between Producers And Script Writers:
Is it the producer's fault or the scriptwriter's fault when the plot of one
movie is plagiarized in another movie whose copyright has been violated?
Understanding what constitutes infringement of a film is crucial for this. This
question has been clarified by a few case laws.
According to the rulings in Star
India v. Leo Burnett
, Zee Entertainment v. Gajendra
, etc., copyright
infringement only occurs when a physical copy of the film is reproduced;
therefore, if a copy of the recording of the film over a physical medium is
made, it will be regarded as a copyright infringement.
The court took into account precedent from another significant case, Norowzian
, in making its decision. In that case, it was determined that "In order
for the second film to violate the copyright in the first film, it had to be an
actual copy of the first film, that with respect to a cinematographic film, it
is the recording that is protected from copying and nothing else, that even if
the defendant�s film exactly resembles the plaintiff�s film but does not copy
The High Court of Calcutta came to a completely different result in a different
case, though. The court stated in the case of Shree Venkatesh v. Vipul Amrutlal
Shah that a movie is more than the sum of its parts and that the copyright
act's intent will be lost if reproducing the movie's content is not seen to be
an infringement. It is crucial to note that a movie won't receive copyright
protection if a sizable portion of it violates the intellectual property rights
of another work.
Conflict Between Music Composers And Producers:
In the case of Ilayraja v. Agi Music
, the well-known composer Ilayaraja
possessed full and total ownership of his musical creations but, due to a lack
of time, he signed an Assignment Agreement transferring those rights to his
wife, Jeevaraja. Through a Sound Recording Licensing Agreement (SRLA), she in
turn granted Agi Music Sdn Bhd the right of exploitation in exchange for
Ilaiyaraja receiving royalties.
Raja Music Universals (whose owner was represented by Jeevaraja, Ilayaraja's
wife) and Agi Music, as sub publisher, also entered into a Sub-Publishing
Agreement (SPA) under which the latter was granted worldwide rights to print,
publish, and sell the compositions listed for a period of ten years in exchange
for payment of royalties.
Ilayaraja claimed that the length was not defined in
the assignment of term between him and his wife and that, in accordance with
section 19(5) of the copyright Act, if the term is not specified, it will be
presumed to be five years when the wife passed away before the aforementioned 10
Consequently, the SPA and SLRA will only be in force for five years. Another
party named in the lawsuit was a recording corporation called Echo, which bought
"sound recordings" from various film producers and utilized them to create
cassette tapes and compact discs for sale.
According to Echo, who claimed to be the film's copyright owner, it obtained the
sound recordings from the film's makers. According to Echo, Ilaiyaraja worked
for the producers and was hired by them to write the music for the movies they
He added that the musical composition was commissioned specifically for this
particular movie. There was no longer a right in them after the composer
received his payment. Ilaiyaraja earned fair compensation for all of his
compositions, including royalties, according to evidence.
It was argued on behalf of Ilayaraja that he possessed many rights regarding his
work as the author of musical compositions. According to him, a separate
copyright would apply to every work or portion of a work that had been used in a
cinematograph film under section 13(4) of the Copyright Act. Therefore, even if
the producer owned the copyright to the entire movie, the copyright held by the
inventor of a particular segment of the movie would not be harmed.
that, when section 17 is read in conjunction with section 2(d)(ii) of the
Copyright Act, sections 17(b) and (c) are not relevant in this instance because
he is both the author and the original owner of the copyright. The agreements
were invalidated because the producer could not have given Echo rights that did
The courtroom docket held that it's far the manufacturer of the cinematograph
movies who held the copyright, through default, in admire of the sound
recordings that the movie contained and best if the writer of the musical work
ought to produce proof of reservation of his proper to such sound recording,
might such rights be with the composer. The courtroom docket additionally
clarified that Ilaiyaraja held entire unique and ethical rights in regard to the
musical works below phase fifty-seven of the copyright Act.
The courtroom docket
held that Echo changed into the felony owner of the sound recording in this
situation and the undertaking among Ilayaraja and his wife had no statutory
sanction. The celebration who ought to have if in any respect filed an
infringement case changed into Echo however Echo did now no longer enhance any
criticism understanding that there has been exploitation of the sound recording
through Agi Music among 2007 and 2012.
Thus, Echo, acquiesced the undertaking of
the sound recording proper to Mrs. Jeevaraja and the subsequent special
undertaking of the proper to Agi Music. Establishing that the undertaking
existed as Echo acquiesced it, the courtroom docket similarly went directly to
determine approximately the tenure of the undertaking.
In this situation, the SRLA and the SPA had been powerful for a length of ten years, however the
undertaking settlement did now no longer say whatever approximately the
duration. Rejecting Agi Music competition the courtroom docket held that phase
19 changed into sacrosanct and changed into important to guard the hobby of the
assignor. Thus, the undertaking might be taken into consideration for a length
of 5 years.
The court in this case had actually reinforced the producer's case, despite the
fact that many academics cheered this decision as a victory for the writers.
Particularly, because musical works were included into sound recordings, the
verdict was harmful to the interests of the composers of musical works.
According to the ruling, if musical works were used as sound recordings in a
film, no additional sound recordings could be based on those same works. The
composers suffered a severe setback as a result. The producer's ability to
convey the musical work as a sound recording with new lyrics in another film or
as a stand-alone piece was severely constrained.
Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd Sri Sai Ganesh Productions &Ors, for example. The
movie "Band Baaja Baaraat," starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma, was
released by Yash Raj Films in 2010. The Telugu version's makers, Sri Sai Ganesh
Productions, released the movie in 2013, and the Delhi High Court immediately
imposed a temporary injunction preventing its release in any format.
film was recently banned from being released in all media, including DVDs, VCDs,
Blu-ray discs, and television, as a result of blatantly copying the essential
elements and forms of the plaintiff's film.
However, in the case of R.G. Anand vs. Deluxe Films & Ors
., R. G. Anand, an
architect by trade, also wrote, produced, and directed the play "Hum Hindustani"
in 1953. The play was a huge success and was re-staged numerous times. As word
of the play spread, Mr. Mohan Sehgal came in touch with Anand, and Anand told
him everything about "Hum Hindustani" to him. In the month of May 1955, Sehgal
started shooting the movie "New Delhi," which Anand believed was based on his
play despite Sehgal's assurances that the two weren't related.
Comparative Analysis: Copyrighted Films Under Cinematographic Field:
The Copyright law in UK defines films as recording on any medium from which a
moving image may be produced. There is no copyright in film that is a copy. The
author of the films is considered to be the person who undertakes arrangements
that are necessary for making the film (the producer) and since 1994, the
principal director is also considered to be the joint author of the work. The
author is considered to be the first owner of copyright.
However strangely, when
it comes to duration of copyright, it is stated in the Act that copyright
expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year
in which the death occurs of the last to die of the following persons, the
principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue, or
the composer of music specially created for and used in the film.
The rule is peculiar since, except from the chief director, no one else is
assigned copyright to the movie. A commission or an employer-employee agreement
may be used for the production of audiovisual material. As a result, in both
situations the employer will be the copyright owner.
Unless the director is
employed, the producer and the chief director shall equally own the copyright
for movies released after June 30, 1994. Thus, the producer must accept the
essential assignment on any terms that may be negotiated.
The collective bodies
or organizations are very important since bargaining is essential for the rights
of the other producers. The Writers Guild of Great Britain is a crucial
representing group for screenwriters in the UK.
Similar to commissioned work, audio-visual works are regarded as "works made for
hire" in the USA (e.g., as a component of a contract for hiring works or
services). Therefore, whether a real or legal person (production firm) is the
producer, they are the author of the work. The Code of Labor in the US
frequently (but not always) governs the interactions between creators (natural
persons) and production companies.
16 The point of contention in the legal dispute between 16 Casa Duse LLC and
Merkin concerned who owned the copyright to the Heads-Up movie. The movie's
producer, Casa Duse, bought the screenplay and hired Alex Merkin to helm it.
1500 dollars were the figure formally agreed upon.
Except for the director, who kept putting off signing the contract, the
remainder of the actors and crew had a work for hire arrangement in place. When
it came to media rights, Merkin, the director, was allowed authority to edit the
picture but was prohibited from licensing, selling, or copying the film footage
without the producer's consent. Ownership was still being discussed, and when no
deal could be reached, the filmmaker Merkin registered the movie's copyright.
The producer filed a lawsuit to have Merkin's copyright in the movie declared
null and void.
The Court concurred with the Garcia v. Google ruling that a copyright system
that permitted each producer, director, screenplay, actor, designer,
cinematographer, and camera operator to claim an individual copyright in a small
component of a joint work would result in a legal tangle. Originality and fixing
are required but not sufficient requirements for acquiring copyright protection.
The only works of authorship that authors are eligible to copyright protection
for are the ones they create and edit. Only dominant authors were allowed to own
copyrights, the court ruled.
According to the court, factors like decision-making, documented agreements with
other parties, how parties bill and use credit might determine ownership and
After considering these criteria, the court ruled that Casa Duse was the
dominant player because it still had these powers. As a result, the court
determined that Merkin was not the film's copyright owner in his capacity as
director. The court additionally ruled that directors were never allowed to
acquire copyrights; however, they occasionally might be if the work's writers
intended for a shared authorship. Since this was untrue, the director lacked
copyright to the movie.
An audio-visual work is regarded by French law as a collaborative work, that is,
a work to which multiple authors have made contributions. The following natural
persons are acknowledged as authors: the script, the dialogue, the adaptation,
the music, the adaptation of an earlier work, and the film directing.
There are two main types of author rights recognized by French law regarding
literary and artistic property: moral rights and economic rights. Through
accordance with this regulation, the author must transfer all of his or her
economic rights to the producer in a written agreement that must be formalized
in order for the author and producer to have a legal relationship.
French law, authors must be compensated in proportion to the revenue from the
work's use in exchange for transferring the related rights to the producer.
Therefore, master agreements with users under which authors are compensated
proportionally have been arranged by collective authors rights management
In order to draw attention to the current copyright system in India, it is
critical to note that the producer's interests appear to be prioritized over
those of the director, scriptwriter, composer, etc. When compared to other
copyright-related topics, the justification that the producer assumes the risk
of the movie and should therefore have ownership of it falls flat.
publisher, for instance, bears a comparable risk but is not granted authorship
or ownership of the copyright by the law. This apparent bias towards everyone
other than movie makers is now in doubt. The authors of the underlying work,
however, who are crucial to the creation of the film, take a backseat.
One of the compelling examples of this is the situation of the principal
director, who is not recognized by the law. The 2012 revisions have been
criticized by eminent Indian academics as a missed opportunity.
Despite the fact that the majority of our law's provisions were taken from the
UK Copyright Act of 1988, the standing committee opted not to grant principal
directors any rights because it believed that doing so would have a negative
impact on the sector.
We are perplexed by the committee's claim that giving directors such rights will
have an impact on the sector.
Thus, copyrights are essential in the film industry since they guarantee that
the right practices and laws are followed both before and after the film is
produced and released. Copyrights protect the authors and contributors of a
film, enabling the industry to function methodically and fairly. It is not
simple to draught a copyright contract because there are many intricate details
The importance of each step in the creation of a copyright contract is
equal. It could become problematic in the future if it is not properly written.
The demand for copyright contracts increases significantly as more movies are
released each year, providing filmmakers with more chances to defend and protect
- Indian Performing Right Society v. Eastern India Motion Pictures Association 1977 AIR 1443, 1977 SCR (3) 206
- Star India v. Leo Burnett 2003 (27) PTC 81 Bom.
- Zee Entertainment v. Gajendra 2008 (36) PTC 53 Bom
- Shree Venkatesh v. Vipul Amrutlal Shah C.S. No. 219 of 2009
- Ilayraja v. Agi Music C.S.No.308 of 2013 and C.S.No.625 of 2014
- Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd Sri Sai Ganesh Productions &Ors CS (COMM) 1329/2016
- R.G. Anand vs. Deluxe Films & Ors 1978 AIR 1613, 1979 SCR (1) 218
- Garcia v. Google 786 F.3d 733