Using someone’s creation without their permission is wrong in so many ways not just morally but when seen through the lenses of law it can land you into soup. This is exactly when a song from a famous movie was used in a promotional video without seeking appropriate permission.
The cost of this stint led to the Congress Twitter account ban and its Campaign named “Bharat Jodo Yatra”.
The following article elaborates on what led to the passing of the order, the facts of the case, and the laws infringed.
The invention of the internet and technology has increased the susceptibility to issues of infringement as with the assistance of technology and the internet altering and recreating someone’s work has become a piece of cake.
Copyright includes a set of rights that are naturally conferred on the original creator for his work. By forbidding anyone from duplicating or replicating the original work, the author retains complete ownership over it. He may also assign others his rights.
The law defines that when anyone other than the owner of the copyrighted material uses the same without prior permission it amounts to a violation of the rights of the owner also known as copyright infringement.
Bharat Jodo Yatra
The Bharat Jodo Yatra which commenced on the 7th of September ’22 from Kanyakumari was an initiative launched by the Indian National Congress as an initiative to unite the country amidst the ongoing “divisive politics” led by the opposition party at New Delhi.
The duration of the Yatra is 150 days, covering 3750 km by foot which ends at Srinagar (J&K).
The aim of the yatra is to fight against the “fear, bigotry and prejudice” which has been plaguing society with the destruction of livelihood, growing unemployment, and inequality.
The yatra which has up till now covered the following states- Tamil Nadu, Kerela, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana and is now presently marching in the State of Maharashtra.
Congress Twitter Account Banned for Copyright Infringement!: Allegations and the Violations
The rights to the song for the Movie – K.G.F 2 were bought by the music label MRT, the complainant in the present matter, filed suit for copyright infringement for the use of the song “falak tu garaj tu” in a promotional video for the Bharat Jodo yatra which was released on the internet by the congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
In the video, the party leader can be seen with the song from the movie being played in the background. The plaintiff’s contention was that the song was used without any prior permission and resulted in a violation of a host of rights protected by the law. Some are mentioned below:
- Section 79 of the IT Act of 2000
- Section 66 of the IT Act of 2000
- Section 63 of the Copyright Act of 1957
- Section 403 of the IPC- Dishonest Misappropriation
- Section 465 of the IPC- Forgery
- Section 120 of the IPC- Concealing is designed to commit an offense punishable by imprisonment
- Section 34 of the IPC- Common Intention
The Bengaluru Court’s Order for M/s MRT Music v. The Indian National Congress &Ors.
2.11.22– A suit was filed by the plaintiff(M Naveen Kumar) on the allegation of copyright infringement of the rights over the music of the Kannada movie KGF- Chapter 2 when Jairam Ramesh had posted clips of the yatra on his Twitter handle.
5.11.22– The matter was listed for hearing at the lower court.
7.11.22– Based on the same, the order was passed by the Civil Court in Bengaluru by the Additional Civil City Judge Justice Lalithakumari M who had issued an Ex-Parte order against the party – Indian National Congress and Supriya Shrinate, Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Kumar, and Twitter Inc.
The observation made by the court based on the CD which was submitted before the court showed side-by-side versions of the wherein original along with the synced version of the song in which the party leader can be seen promoting the Bharat Jodo Campaign.
Based on the order following were the directions-
- The micro-blogging site Twitter to take down and remove all the tweets made through the handle of the Congress Party i.e. @INCIndia and the @BharatJodo.
- The order further stated that the social media handles mentioned above to be blocked until the next date.
- The order mentioned that the defendants were further restrained from the “unauthorized and illegal” use of works owned by the plaintiff until the next hearing.
- The court further appointed SN Venkateshmurthy as the local commissioner to conduct the audit of the site in order to preserve all the infringing materials in the separate CD and the court’s system.
In its defense, the defendants said that the order was passed in the absence of the party and they were also not provided with a copy of the order.
It was further said that they came to know about the said matter through social media regarding the order passed and are pursuing the matter by following the legal measures provided by the law.
Based on the said directives of the order of the civil court Senior Counsel for the defendant Mr. A.M Singhvi challenged the order passed by the lower court in front of the division bench which was led by Justice – G. Narendar and PN Desai.
His contentions were:
He admitted that there was a breach on the part of the appellant for the use of the song in the clip but he further contended that the blocking of the handle of the microblogging site will not help unless there is an ulterior motive.
He further explained the term “Ulterior Motive” which was that the use of the audio was not for any commercial purposes was used but had no commercial purpose.
The appeal was allowed by the bench which directed that the appellants remove the content infringing the copyright of the plaintiff. The court further stated that the order passed by the bench will come in the way of the plaintiff’s request to protect his copyrights.
The high was further of the opinion that the appointment of the Commissioner is a futile effort after the mistake has been admitted by the appellants. It further remitted the matter back to the civil court where it is scheduled to be heard on the 21st of November 2022.
In the age of the internet, it has become easy to recreate someone’s work due to the accessibility and anonymity which is offered by the internet and technology. However, it is important and prudent to always seek the requisite permission from the creator before using their creation, especially for purposes that exceed the personal requirement and can have an impact on the existing reputation of the content in the public eye.
- Zee Media Bureau (2022 Nov 8th) “Read on Social Media” Congress on the court order to block Twitter account in the Copyright violations case” https://zeenews.india.com/india/read-on-social-media-congress-on-court-order-to-block-twitter-accounts-in-copyright-violations-case-2532447.html
- PTI (2022 Nov 11th) “Impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra already being felt: Congress’s dig at PM’s Visit to 4 Southern States” https://www.deccanherald.com/national/national-politics/impact-of-bharat-jodo-yatra-already-being-felt-congresss-dig-at-pms-visit-to-4-southern-states-1161475.html
- Nidhi Chillar (2019 Aug 22nd) “Copyright Infringement ” https://blog.ipleaders.in/copyright-infringement/
- Mustafa Plumber (2022 Nov 7th) “Bengaluru Court Orders Twitter to block handles of Congress Party & Bharat Jodo For alleged Unauthorised use of KGF -2’s Music” https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/twitter-accounts-indian-national-congress-bharat-jodo-copyright-infringement-kgf-2-213507