06 August 2018

Copyright of producer in cinematographic work when cannot be restricted

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court has held that once the ‘performer’ in an advertisement film (cinematograph work) has agreed to vesting of copyright in the producer of the film, the said performer, by way of an agreement, cannot curtail or restrict the right of exploitation of the work by the producer for a time period which is less than that provided under Copyright Act, 1957.

The court in Kajal Agarwal v. V.V.D. & Sons Pvt. Ltd also observed that agreement did not contain any clause preventing the producer, the first owner of the copyright, from exercising his absolute right. The Single Judge also held that copyright conferred on the defendant-producer by clause 4 of the agreement, particularly the term of copyright, cannot be restricted to the period stipulated under general clause 9 thereof as the same would be in conflict with the statutory provisions of the Copyright Act. Moreover, it was also noted that the two clauses cannot be equated or read as an agreement to the contrary as provided under Section 17(b) and (c) of the Copyright Act.

However taking note of the fact that the agreement between the appellant and the respondent for the purpose of the ‘work’ was only for a period of one year as provided in the agreement, the court in its decision dated 25.06.2018 has held that there is no restriction or prohibition for the performer from endorsing or acting in the advertisement film of other producers who deal with similar products.

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