This article on ‘IPR in the movie industry: Indian Scenario’ was written by Ankita Kumari, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Intellectual property rights play an important part in the making of any movie. From script to screen, intellectual property rights influence every step of the filmmaking process. The creation of a film requires the joint efforts of the producers, directors, actors, singers, screenwriters, and numerous other significant entities and is considered quite a complicated process. As a vast field that has a significant impact on our lives, media need some form of protection for the work of its contributors. The media can receive this protection through intellectual property.
Intellectual property rights not only provide security from unauthorized use or duplication but also brings goodwill and various ways to make money from it. Numerous benefits can be gained by registering those unique and original ideas under various acts of intellectual property laws.
This article will make you understand what IPR is, and how it plays a huge part in the movie industry.
What is IPR?
IPR which stands for intellectual property rights provides monopoly rights to artisans for their creative and original ideas. Intellectual property rights are the rights that protect the creativity of the human mind. Developing unique and original ideas, for instance, a design, an invention, a manuscript, etc. comes under the umbrella of intellectual property. Copyrights, patents, trademarks, designs, geographical indications, etc. are the branches of intellectual properties which provide exclusive rights over the use of his creation over a certain period.
And to formally assert this right, you need to register your creations with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry’s Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks.
Legislations covering IPRs in India and their role in the media industry:
The literary and artistic works that people create are protected under copyright law. All items covered by copyright are referred to as “works.” Original literary works, original plays, original songs, original artistic creations, motion pictures, and sound recordings are all acceptable. In the filmmaking process, copyright is considered the backbone of any movie.
It helps the creators to protect their work from unauthorized use. In exchange for payment and assistance in registering copyrights under their production banner, movie producers hire authors to create fresh stories. As an alternative, they might obtain the authors’ consent and pay a fee or a royalty to make movies based on their original works of literature. For every original artistic creation such as original lyrics, and original music, artists can claim copyright and continue to receive royalty fees.
Copyright provides shelter to the works of artists. According to Sec 51, of the Copyright Act, reproduction of copies leads to infringement of copyright. A cinematograph film’s reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical, or creative work will be regarded as an infringement copy.
There are many cases of copyright infringement that are filed against the movies. E.g.
- Amir Khan’s mega-hit “PK” was also charged with ripping off Quim Barreiro’s’ album cover.
- The 2004 Akshay Kumar film Aitraaz was also charged with ripping off “The Graduate” (1967) for its poster.
Trademarks provide a distinctive identity to goods and services. It could be a word, slogan, logo, tag line, etc. To establish a distinctive identity and stand out in a crowded market, film companies utilize trademarks. E.g.
- Dharma Productions is a word trademark, registered to Karan Johor,
- Rajshri productions is a device trademark, registered to Rajshri Productions Pvt. Ltd., etc.
The legislation governing the protection of trademarks in India is known as the Trademarks Act, 1999 (hence referred to as the Act). The unauthorized use of any mark, which is duplicate leads to trademark infringement.
For instance, in a twenty-year-old trademark case, the Delhi High Court placed restrictions on those who were using the Hindi film “Sholay” as a title. The “Sholay” film’s creators brought the lawsuit.
The High Court also granted Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Sippy Films Pvt. Ltd., the film’s creators, damages in the amount of Rs. 25 lakh. They had complained to the court about how the title was being used in the defendants’ company name and on the website www.sholay.com.
Making a movie is impossible without technology and inventiveness. Video cameras, computers with video editing soft wares, special effects, etc. are the technological equipment that is utilized to create any movie. Innovative minds have looked for new, better ways to push the limits of possibility throughout history. These technological innovations are frequently covered by patents.
Digital technologies are shaping the future of film and fuelling our passion for films and web series. To improve filmmaking processes and promote innovation in the field, a filmmaker can use patent protection.
The features of shape, pattern, configuration, decoration, or composition of some lines or colors applied to the items are protected by design registration.
The Design act, of 2002 gives protection to any type of design, including computer simulations, sketches, and apparel and footwear creations from the fashion sector. Costumes are something that brings life to the character. Those unique designs can be protected by design registration.
In other words, it safeguards distinctive industrial designs produced with a view to commercialization, improvement, or enhancing their aesthetic worth. Design act governs it all.
In India, registration of intellectual properties is optional. But it is highly advisable to get it registered with the office of controller general of Patent, Designs, and Trademarks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
Every inventor should be aware of the laws of intellectual property, as it plays a critical part. Registration should be done to ensure that no one else is reproducing the copies or duplicating their work for monetary gains.
Intellectual property rights play an important role in the film industry. From writing a script for a movie to designing something unique in the process of filmmaking. Everything just gets protected under the umbrella of, intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights provide growth and development to the film industry. The works of artists should be registered by filmmakers to prevent instances of infringement. India has developed into a producer of IP, and as a result, we have realized the need of protecting our intellectual property.
 Advocate Shubham Borker. (2019. Aug 12). Bollywood & IPR- Famous Copyright Cases in Movies in India. Retrieved: https://www.lawyered.in/legal-disrupt/articles/judgemental-hai-kya-movie-posters-copyright-infringement-or-not/
 First India. (2022, May 26).Trademark case: Delhi HC restrains persons using title of film ‘Sholay’ on website. Retrieved: https://firstindia.co.in/news/bollywood/Trademark-case-delhi-hc-restrains-persons-using-title-of-film-sholay-on-website