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Piracy Or No Piracy

Piracy occurs when someone tries to distribute the content through illegal means like making CDs out of it or uploading on the internet. Piracy can be committed unknowingly as well while people are not aware and just to save up some money they try to look for alternatives and that's when they end up consuming pirated content. Piracy in this Era is known as "Oh that movie we watched before the release, I found it online, SMART ISN'T IT". This article examines different aspects of Piracy with respect to the case in question.

RG Anand vs Deluxe Films
The plaintiff was a well-known playwright and producer of stage plays and Hum Hindustani was the one such play written by him and was enacted in the year 1954. When defendant no. 2 showed interest when the story of the play was narrated to him when they came to meet the plaintiff.

A movie was released in Delhi in September 1956 which was directed by the defendants and the plaintiff read some comments in the papers which gave the impression that the picture was very much like the play. The plaintiff after watching found that the film was entirely based upon the said play and was, therefore, convinced that the defendant committed an act of piracy.

The trial court raised several issues like:
  • Was the work of the director a copy of the said play?
  • Were the rights of the plaintiff's infringed via the movie named "New Delhi"
And concluded that:
The appellant was the owner of the copyright in 'Hum Hindustani' but there was no violation of the copyright of the appellant. To appreciate the argument of the parties the court discussed the law on the subject. At the time when the cause of action arose in the present suit, the Indian Parliament had not made any law governing copyright violation and therefore the court relied on the old law". The plaintiff pursued their case in Delhi High Court where the divisional branch dismissed their appeal.

The court observed in the RG deluxe case:
That the same idea is being developed differently, it is manifest that the source being common, similarities are bound to occur. In such a case the courts should determine whether or not the similarities are on fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyrighted work. If the defendant's work is nothing but a literal imitation of the copyrighted work with some variations here and there it would amount to a violation of the copyright. In other words, to be actionable the copy must be a substantial and material one which at once leads to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of an act of piracy.
"The surest and the safest test to determine whether or not there has been a violation of copyright is to see if the reader, spectator, or the viewer after having read or seen both the works is clearly of the opinion and gets an unmistakable impression that the subsequent work appears to be a copy of the original. Where the theme is the same but is presented and treated differently it doesn't amount to piracy", The court observed

The court further compared the similarities appearing in the work and concluded that all the similarities are rather coincidental and no infringement has been committed.

Why is the issue of piracy important?
The problem with piracy is that it is being committed on a day-to-day basis, it occurs when a person in a fit of rage, to make some extra money or to just take advantage of the rightful owner commits piracy and starts with the distribution through various modes or means. There have been new mediums introduced in the market for the same to name a few; Telegram, nutflix (A substitute for NetFlix), Fmovies, B4U Movies, Torrent

Now the problem doesn't lie in the medium, according to me the problem lies in the consumption or surfing these sites. We All have studied the concept of Demand and supply ie, Where there is demand, supply emerges automatically.

In the case of piracy, people explore these sites to save some money which ends up being an employment opportunity for some people.

Piracy is an issue that has surfaced more during these tough times in which Internet piracy has the most major role hence to throw some light and to understand internet piracy better let's know about it

A few reasons why Piracy is becoming an issue:
  • Accessibility of the internet
  • No boundation on the number of people to whom the distribution can be made or shared to
  • No pain only Gain; No investment to be made and easy money can be made
  • The threat of being tracked down is less
  • Lack of jurisdiction governing this arena
What does the law say?
The copyright act was amended in 2012 so that forms of online piracy can be given jurisdiction. With the new amendments, these Sites were banned by the government but with technology evolving if one site is banned its substitute is made within a day.

The section that Governs this arena is section 65A and 65B which read:
"Section 65A. Protection of technological measures" States that if any person finds a way around or tries to deceive people and tries to infringe the rights of another person or entity in this process he may be imprisoned for two years with a fine or both. The prime example of this can be the site named Nutflix which is a replica of Netflix with the UI also being the same and it is easily accessible for people via the internet.

"Section 65B. Protection of Rights Management Information" states that "any person who Tries to edit, remove any information or distributes as well as broadcast it to the public shall be behind bars for at least 2 years or with a hefty fine and if the rights management information has been tampered with in any work, the owner of copyright in such work may also avail of civil remedies provided under Chapter XII against the persons indulging in such acts." For example the Ipl matches or big boss episodes being screencast for people who don't have the prime membership of the broadcasting channel namely star sports or for people not having access to the app voot.

Piracy or no Piracy?
"If a reappraisal of the facts in the present case were open to this Court, the Court perhaps would have differed from the view taken on the facts by the High Court". The court noted. The test laid down, in this case, acted as a base in many upcoming similar cases. Last it was used in Shivani Tibrewala vs Rajat Mukherjee And 4 Ors (COMIP NO. 665 OF 2017). We all wonder if the decision would have been different with the introduction of The IT Act 2000 and various new acts introduced to protect the rights of an owner, The answer to this question is unclear because even if some similarities prevail piracy was still wasn't attempted as the court also addressed the similarities and dissimilarities of the play and then came to a conclusion of piracy not being committed.

The defendant would have committed piracy if they took a video of the play and illegally distributed it online on various platforms then it would amount to piracy, Or the plaintiff would have committed piracy when he recorded the whole movie and distributed the same in September 1956 and made it accessible for everyone.

According to Section 65A of The copyright act which was amended in 2012, Earlier piracy wasn't considered such a heinous crime as the internet was a privilege only exercised by the privileged class, but with time it has changed and so has the law. Piracy is different from substantial similarity as when the question of substantial similarity arises the court take help of the Total concept and feel test, Extrinsic-intrinsic test, and Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison whereas in Piracy if the plaintiff shows evidence that the defendant in place of taking revenge or for personal gains illegally distributed their copyrighted work which is an offense, the court will pass the judgment according.

For example; If A has made a movie named Sone ka khazana and B being a stage artist was impressed by the film hence he thought of making the replica of Sone ka khazana without consulting A, This is a prime example of substantial similarity whereas if B had consulted A and The suggestion had been refused because it would affect the box office collection and B intrigued by this recorded the whole movie and published it online or made it into a cd and distributed it online then it would amount to piracy.

We knowingly or unknowingly commit piracy daily a prime example can be when we make a boomerang that showcases a movie scene from the movie and uploads it on social media, believe it or not, it adds up to piracy, now let us address some instances of piracy;

Kanak had to watch suits and with no amazon prime subscription, she thought of looking for it online and found the site named F.movies which was broadcasting the show with subtitles, and that link was instantly forwarded to her friends because she had found a solution for her broke friends as well.

Vivek had a telegram group on which he used to upload daily episodes of big boss for others to watch and later discuss. Sneha was very grateful for him to upload being a middle-class person with no voot premium membership she had the chance to watch it.

Mahima had a drive link where all the episodes of the show Friends were there she instantly forwarded it to her friend Abhaya who was a big fan of the show.

And the list continues, these instances tell us how easy it has become to freely access the internet to merely watch a show and distribute that link to our friends, The plaintiff in the case thought that he had been wronged since he had spent lots and lots of hard work in directing or making one play from production to stage lighting to Dress costumes, Makeup of the artist and then there are apps like Telegram or torrent which provide a feature called Search globally allowing them to switch their VPN and watch other shows. so that they can stream their favorite plays, movie, drama free of cost.

  • Regulating the illegal sites on a weekly and monthly basis; it'll allow the authorities to ban any new sites which come in light
  • Making people aware of how hazardous these illegal sites can be
  • Taking strict action against the owner of these illegal sites
We all wonder whose fault it is when any movie doesn't earn Good enough money or when a play doesn't get the recognition that they deserve, there are a lot of aspects to be blamed from People to lack of jurisdiction or Lack of regulatory authorities. There is no solution to stop piracy it can only be limited or deduced by applying the suggestion given.

Earlier any law to deal with substantial similarity or piracy was not in the books of law; after the case of RG Anand a test to determine the test of substantial similarity was given by the law and it plays a major role as it acted as a stepping stone concerning all other cases dealing with piracy issues as well as substantial similarity issues.

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