Telangana High Court sets aside injunction order against ‘Lock Upp’ OTT series hosted by Kangana Ranaut
“Unless and until it is established that the concept of both shows is similar, and in fact, the concept of “Lockupp reality show” was copied from the story of the concept of ‘The Jail’, it cannot be said that it will prejudice the rights of the respondents.”
Alt Balaji filed an appeal in the Telangana High Court, challenging the order of the Hyderabad City Civil Court concerning copyright infringement to stay release of the reality show ‘Lock Upp.’
Injunction by City Civil Court, Hyderabad:
The initial application was filed under Section 62 of the Act for copyright infringement by Pride Media against Alt Balaji and others claiming permanent injunction stating that the ‘Lock Upp’ show was similar to their ‘The Jail’ show.
According to Pride Media, they came up with the story of ‘The Jail’ and prepared a script with 22 celebrities. The reality show was for 100 days, and they registered the story in ‘Screen Writers Association.’ However, they could not produce the show due to lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, and by the time they geared up to mobilize production of the show, they came across the ‘Lock Upp’ reality show. The show’s trailer was enough to convince them that the show was a blatant copy of their ‘The Jail’ show. However, they did not register the show with the Copyright Board of India.
They filed a suit on 22nd February 2022 in the City Civil Courts, Hyderabad, for an ad-interim injunction against the defendants from releasing, exhibiting, and publishing the series in the name of ‘Lock Upp reality show’ in theaters, OTT platforms, Youtube, and electronic social media.
The XI Addl Chief Judge granted the ad-interim injunction to Pride Media on 23rd February 2022.
Civil Miscellaneous Appeal in the Telangana High Court:
Alt Balaji was aggrieved by the ad-interim injunction granted to Pride Media, arguing that the Addl Chief Judge did not give valid reasons while granting the ad-interim injunction.
The contentions raised by the appellant with regards to this are:
- That, they have been marketing the reality show ‘Lock Upp’ since the first week of February. The show trailer was released on 16th February 2022 and was scheduled to be aired on 27th February 2022.
- That, they have spent a considerable amount of money on various marketing initiatives, and the launch delay would affect the show’s viewership.
- That, they had filed an application under the Copyright Act for registration of the ‘Lockupp’ reality show but received no formal rejections to it. They also applied the ‘Indian Film & TV Producers Council’ for registration of the title of the show.
- That, why the respondent did not approach the Court immediately after knowing about the ‘Lock Upp’ show on 19th February 2022.
The main argument put forward by the appellant, in this case, is why the respondent approached the Court at the eleventh hour just before the release of the show and obtained an injunction order for it without issuing notice to them. Reliance was placed on the cases of Dashrath B. Rathod and Ors. Vs. Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd., and Ors. and John Hart and Ors. Vs. Mukul Deora and Ors. to support their contention. The Court had held that the practice of approaching the Court at the eleventh hour and expecting Courts to drop all the work to listen and decide their applications on a priority basis must be discouraged.
The contentions raised by the respondent with regards to this are:
- That, they knew about the promo release of the show on 19th February 2022 and had contacted the appellants to stop the copyright infringement with relation to it.
- That, they had sent the registration certificate along with the synopsis and had clearly stated that they had already registered the show’s concept with Screen Writers’ Association. The appellants contended that they have every screen it on 27.02.2022.
- That, the appellant has copied the concept of their show and infringed their copyright. Further, they should be held liable for the consequences under Section 51 and 52 of the Copyright Act.
- That, the trial Court, after pursuing all the documents and the video trailer of the ‘Lockupp’ show, found both the shows in question similar.
Justice P.Sree Sudha of the Hon’ble Telangana High Court set aside the ad-interim injunction of the trial Court regarding releasing, exhibiting, and publishing the series and allowed the miscellaneous civil appeal filed by Alt Balaji.
The Court stated that there is no doubt that both the parties have registered the concept and have spent huge sums on it. Still, the respondents should have approached the Court immediately to afford an opportunity of hearing to the other side before granting an injunction. Further, the balance of convenience favors the appellant as the show is already produced and huge sums are spent in February 2022, and they intend to live stream the show on 27th February.
Actor Kangana Ranaut hosts the show, live streams celebrity participants locked up behind bars.
Read the order here
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