Legal Exploration of Media & Entertainment Industry

media & entertainment industry
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Introduction

The Indian media and entertainment business is one of the fastest expanding in the world, with the highest media production. The media world has grown in size by enclosing itself within its orbit. The media and entertainment industry is one of the most fragmented and diverse sectors. Some of the growth drivers of the Media and Entertainment business include increased investment in film production, a more favourable regulatory environment, and a reduction in the shelf life of movies in multiplexes. As technology advances and makes it easier for content and entertainment to reach India’s enormous population, the importance of the media and entertainment industry in India’s expansion fantasy cannot be underestimated. As a result, several Acts have been established in the M&E industry to maintain peace, i.e. to avoid infringement of Intellectual Property, Copyrights, Freedom of Speech and Expression, and so on.

The M&E sector is vast, with numerous regulations governing various exhibition platforms such as cinemas, television, and the internet, such as the Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Cable Television Network Regulation Act of 1995, and the Information Technology Act of 2000. Then there are laws dealing with intellectual property copyright and trademark rights, such as the Copyright Act of 1957 and the Trademarks Act of 1999. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 specifies punishments for a wide range of offences, the most of which are connected to situations in the M&E industry, such as infringing on religious beliefs, defamation, and selling stolen products.

This article provides an overview of the difficulties/challenges that the media and entertainment industries have faced, both collectively and individually. The prevailing trend in society is towards digital and social revolution. Disseminating information and news has gotten considerably easier thanks to fast growing technologies. The consequences of technology are determined by industry-wide developments, their impact on each country, and how their audiences respond to and adapt to the transition. Censorship, manipulation, professionalism, and interpersonal interactions are also used, as are policies that are defined, regulated, and implemented.

The legal challenges affecting India’s M&E industry

Infringement of Penal Laws

One of the most worrying trends in the M&E business has been the public misapplication of criminal laws. The number of criminal prosecutions filed under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in recent years for offences such as hurting religious sentiments (Section 295A), defamation (Section 499, 500), selling obscene things, performing obscene acts and songs, and so on has skyrocketed (Section 293, 294).

Issues regarding Covid-19

The disruptive impact of a global pandemic, which causes job losses, border closures, and forced work-from-home arrangements, raises the likelihood of non-performance, poor performance, delay, and non-payment. Physical contracts are challenging to carry through. The cancellation of film premieres, premieres, and events raises a slew of practical issues, such as potential reimbursements, exchanges, and contractual obligations, especially for stakeholders such as sponsors, broadcasters, and ticket holders, who may have invested significant sums of money that are now subject to uncertainty and losses.

The parties should analyze the agreements for termination and force majeure clauses, and assess if the deadlines and obligations may be jointly revised as the appropriate course of action at the time. Given the limits on crew members and the unwillingness of audiences to visit theatres, the parties must consider if production schedules and release dates may be pushed back.

Piracy

The quick availability of low-cost rental choices, as well as an increase in consumer digital downloads, are also threatening the movie theatre business model. Piracy has also hampered digital media’s ability to monetize content. According to the report, high content costs, low income levels, and less expensive internet infrastructure are all variables that contribute to

Release in other geographies, such as the UAE, is a key cause of film leakage and release in theatres one day before the film’s release in the Indian market. Films are made digitally available within hours of their initial release. In certain circumstances, before they are written.

Producers may also seek John Doe orders from the courts to prevent piracy of their films. The Supreme Court interpreted Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (which deals with safe harbour provisions for intermediaries) in the landmark case of Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India in such a way that the removal of online material can take place only if an adjudicatory body issues an order requiring intermediaries to remove the content. The aforementioned judgment absolves intermediaries of liability when they fail to comply with a court order ordering them to delete illegal information, rather than just responding to requests from a third party.

Regrettably, the producers are forced to go to court to preserve their rights against this threat. While the government is striving to remove pirated content websites, such as the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit (MCDCU), which began operations in August 2017, much more has to be done. Piracy has long been and continues to be one of the most serious issues confronting the M&E industry.

Content Regulation

All content-related law, such as the Cinematograph Act and the Cable Television Network Control Act, has its roots in the Constitution. However, the authorities have drastically extended their authority over time, far exceeding what the Constitution intended in terms of appropriate limitations.

Several instances of artistic freedom of speech and expression have been curtailed, whether it was the CBFC’s film censorship, state governments’ film bans, or the I&B Ministry’s attempt to regulate television content despite the existence of self-regulatory bodies such as the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.

Technology Laws

Regulations must adapt in tandem with technological advancements. In my perspective, India’s lack of technology-agnostic regulation, notably data privacy rules, is a major hindrance to the M&E market’s capacity to keep up with the burgeoning digital economy. Only a tiny minority of media business players welcome new innovations into their sphere of work, while the rest are concerned about the possibility for backlash or difficulties that these new “unusual” solutions can cause. As a result, the players grow dependant on antiquated approaches, making it harder for them to conduct business with one another.

Expert’s words

“Almost every week, we as a team of media and entertainment lawyers receive different questions related to what content is safe to make, what can be depicted in the content, and whether a particular scene or sequence could attract a claim or litigation,” Chandrima Mitra and Vaishakhi Mehta said in an interview with Bar & Bench.

The first question to ask is if the content is intended for theatrical release, television, or distribution via an OTT platform. This question exemplifies the variance in India’s regulations governing content creation and distribution.

The second most prevalent issue we confront is dealing with frivolous claims and preparing defences in litigation that we know is frivolous or creates a concern that exposes the content producer or distributor to what a Court may think about the claim. Such allegations and lawsuits afflict the audiovisual entertainment industry. It could be filed in any court across the length and width of India, and it is done far too frequently. Because the industry draws so much media attention, everyone in the crowd appears to adopt the position of content police or desires notoriety by expressing a problem. The distinction between censorship and certification has been increasingly blurred over time. The advancement of technology and the changes in the legislation have not been in lockstep. This has caused a slew of issues for industry stakeholders.

Scope of Media & Entertainment Laws

Although its practise includes employment law, labour law, contract law, security law, right of privacy, international law, and insurance law, entertainment law or media law is a legal amenity of the M&E industry that faces challenges of Corporate, Finance, Intellectual Property, Publicity, and Privacy. With the growth of various popular media, the field of Media Law has grown in importance. Entertainment Law intersects with specific ground realities in the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry, as well as Live Industry concerns.

Handling defamation lawsuits and reputation management, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, endorsement and sponsorship partnerships, and confidentiality agreements are all part of the legal strategy in media and entertainment. The right to free expression and censorship is one such area of concern in media law. Legal concerns may emerge during the creation of an original work of entertainment, as well as during the licencing and distribution stages. The most frequently mentioned aspect in this regard is press freedom. It is the freedom to communicate and express oneself through various means such as electronic media and printed publications.

In India, freedom of the press is replaced for the right to free speech and expression in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution; hence it is assumed that freedom of the press is included in Article 19. Press repression is one of the most delicate subjects in any democracy. Freedom of expression is an essential component of each individual’s right to self-development. Restriction on what we are permitted to say and write, as well as hear and read, will harm our individuality and progress.

As the most important aspect of today’s world, freedom of expression should defend all people’ right to comprehend political concerns so that they can participate in the smooth operation of democracy. The Supreme Court ruled in Brij Bhushan & others vs. State of Delhi that censorship clearly limits free speech and expression. There are also a variety of legal difficulties that occur in the Media and Entertainment business, such as Indian Copyright Law, which provides provisions for compulsory licensing of copyrights in respect of some original works that are withheld from the public.

Its purpose is to prevent the misuse of copyright monopolies and to strike a balance between individual rights and public interest. Trademark Protection Law – This allows the creator to engage in ‘extreme branding,’ which aims to make the public recognise their product through the use of a variety of factors such as sound, packaging, shape, colour, or fragrance. Indian Patent Law – This draws different fields such as pharmaceutical, chemistry, biotechnology, software, electronics, and several other managements for patent protection, enforcement, management, and why having a patent is required.

Conclusion

The M&E business is constantly developing and supervised by a plethora of rules. The primary areas of concern include the right to free expression and censorship, trademark infringement, and piracy, which are driving elements in ensuring the protection of rights and establishing fair market norms. Legislation in these areas paves the way for the industry’s growth.

The Media and Entertainment Industry in India has evolved and acquired prominence in recent years. It is expected to earn around USD 35 million in income. The M&E Industry has benefited from innovative technical advances as well as an increase in internet usage among suppliers and consumers. Because M&E is such a broad business, there is a considerable risk of misappropriation. Various legislations with very disparate goals have been established in order to ensure effective regulation. Legislation such as the Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Cable Television Network Regulation Act of 1995, and the Information Technology Act of 2000 are applicable for regulating content on exhibition mediums such as cinemas, television, and the internet.

References

  1. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3283-media-and-entertainment-laws-in-india.html
  2. https://www.barandbench.com/view-point/the-viewpoint-do-we-need-to-regulate-content-separately-on-every-platform
  3. https://theprint.in/opinion/why-india-needs-to-modernise-its-copyright-laws-for-the-digital-era/550243/
  4. https://www.helplinelaw.com/business-law/LFME/legal-issues-faced-by-media-and-entertainment-sector-in-india.html
  5. https://astrealegal.com/8652/
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  8. https://www.mondaq.com/india/broadcasting-film-tv-radio/827892/the-cinematograph-act-of-india
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  10. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/1999
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  14. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1803184/
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  20. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shreya_Singhal_v._Union_of_India
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  22. https://cis-india.org/telecom/resources/cable-television-networks-regulation-act

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