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The Media and Entertainment Industry (M&E) in India has grown in importance during the last few years. It is estimated to generate more than USD 35 million in revenue. In the M&E industry, suppliers and consumers are increasingly leveraging the internet, resulting in new technical advances.

M&E has a significant risk of being abused because it is such a broad field. Several laws have been adopted to ensure effective regulation, each with its unique set of objectives. The Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Cable Television Network Regulation Act of 1995, and the Information Technology Act of 2000 all control content in mediums of display such as cinemas, television, and the internet.

For the protection of intellectual properties such as trademarks and copyrights, legislation such as the Copyright Act of 1957 and the Trademarks Act of 1999 were adopted. The penalty for offences committed in this industry, such as defamation, hurting religious sensibilities, and so on, is governed by the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

In the M&E industry, the principal source of concern is the right to free speech and censorship. Freedom of speech and expression through sources such as electronic media and written writings is a core right under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Article 19 ensures freedom of expression as a fundamental component of everyone’s right to self-development.

The court concluded in Brij Bhushan & others vs. State of Delhi that censorship will clearly impair freedom of speech and expression.

Various censorship authorities, such as the CBFC and the I&B Ministry, are placing constraints on creative freedom of speech and expression by regulating films. Udta Punjab, Lipstick beneath My Bhurkha, and other restricted films are examples. Because democracy is the most important element today, and a functioning democracy necessitates freedom of expression.

Copyright infringement and trademark protection are the second area of concern in the M&E sector. The Copyright Act of 1957 protects and registers literary, dramatic, musical, sound recording, and creative works. The main purpose of the act is to avoid the misuse of copyright monopolies and to achieve a fair balance between individual rights and the public interest. Names, titles, words, letters, visual artwork, product shapes, terminologies, and color combinations are all protected by the Trademarks Act of 1999. In the event of trademark infringement, this statute provides for remedies.

Piracy is the third source of concern. Online piracy is defined as the theft of a licensed owner’s property from the internet, resulting in damage and loss. Every year, piracy costs the film industry $2.8 billion in revenue, according to the M&E Industry. The advent of digital downloads and the availability of low-cost rental choices have contributed to the downfall of the movie theatre sector. Filming in theatres and the distribution of films in other countries a day before they are released in the United States are the main sources of piracy. Before they are released in theatres, some films are made available online.

Producers and filmmakers must obtain John Doe orders from the court to combat film piracy. The court concluded in Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India[4] that online content should only be removed if an adjudicatory body obtains an order ordering intermediary to do so. The Supreme Court ruling shields the intermediaries from accountability when the parties concerned fail to comply with the order to remove illegal content.

Sections 54 to 62 of the Copyrights Act of 1957 deal with the civil remedies that are available in civil courts for copyright protection. The regulations for criminal punishment when someone intentionally infringes on a work’s copyright, other rights granted by the act, or knowingly aids and abets the infringement are covered in sections 63 to 70.

Anyone found guilty faces a penalty of up to 3 years in prison, but no less than 6 months, a fine of not less than 50,000 rupees but not more than 2 lakhs, the search and seizure of infringing things, and the transfer of infringed goods to the owner. The number of criminal prosecutions filed for offending religious sensitivities, defamation, and selling obscene goods has risen. Most complaints are submitted with the purpose of gaining publicity and media attention. The inconvenience created by such incidents is a significant barrier in the industry.

The M&E sector is a constantly evolving industry controlled by a plethora of rules. The right to free expression and censorship, trademark infringement, and piracy are driving forces in ensuring the protection of rights and establishing fair market standards. In these sectors, legislation lays the path for the industry’s expansion.

By: – Pragati Sengar