Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Violation of Copyrights : Police can’t seize movie theatre’s projector, other equipment

Ahmedabad: Settling a 10-yearold dispute over violation of copyrights in Surat, the Gujarat High Court has ruled that the government officials cannot seize projection equipments of video theatres even if there is violation of copyright.

The court observed that the law permits the authorities only to seize infringing copies and plates and does not empower police to seize equipment like projectors, television sets, amplifiers, speakers, and VCR, CD or DVD players.
Cinestar — Division of Asia Vision Entertainment Pvt ltd, a consortium of video companies like Time, Gold, Net, Bombino, Indus and others, owning sole and exclusive rights of more than 1,200 Hindi films, had sought court directions to seize all equipments when video theatres are found violating copyrights.
The companies also sought court’s directions to consider violation of copyright by theatres as non-bailable offence. But the court refused to issue any directions in this regard.
The litigation began in 2001 after the district collectorate and police in Surat cracked down on video theatres on complaints filed by video companies.
The theatre owners went on hunger strike after their theatres were seized by the collector. The theatre owners’ association also approached the high court to restrict the authorities from capturing their projection equipments.
After hearing the involved parties, Justice KA Puj refused to direct the authorities to seize all projection equipments from the video theatre, found violation copyrights. The court also observed that no one is permitted to go beyond or act beyond the four corners of law and all actions are supposed to be taken within the legal framework and parameters. Interestingly, the court also declined a prayer by video companies and their agents, in which they wanted police to act on their complaint without charging any fee. The court has found this prayer seeking police assistance without any payment as ‘wholly unjustified’. “If immediate action is taken and that too instead of any public interest, the only object is to protect the private interest, such party is bound to make the payment for taking such police assistance,” the court observed.

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