DVD rentals under legal scanner: Delhi high court stops unauthorised rental of Hollywood films

DVD rental businesses across the country have come under heavy legal scrutiny following the judgment by the Delhi High Court to curb DVD rentals from issuing DVDs copyrighted by the Motion Pictures Association. In a judgment that is expected to have far-reaching impact on the film rental business in India, Justice Reva Khetrapal of the Delhi High Court passed orders restraining the rental library Cinema Paradiso from renting out any films copyrighted by Motion Picture Association (MPA) member companies including Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Tristar Pictures, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios, LLP., New Line Productions, Inc. and Orion Pictures Corporation. Chander M. Lall, Head of Operations and legal counsel for the MPA in India, said, “Although copyright law does not permit the unauthorized rental of films, rental libraries are functioning all over the country without licenses and without the authorization of the copyright owners. This ruling by the High Court sends a strong message that India is committed to the protection of copyright and intellectual property, not only to the benefit of MPA member companies, but to the benefit of local filmmakers and everyone in the film industry in India.” The development has resulted in many DVD rental outlets scurrying for permission from respective licensees. Says M.N Kapasi, MD, Excel Home Videos (Licensee for Walt Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and others in India), “There has been a sudden growth in rental license applications from DVD Rental Outlets across the country. There is scarce knowledge among Rental companies due to the lack of awareness of copyright laws. Due to this many innovations in Rentals end up being on the wrong side of the law. We are happy and ready to offer rental specific legal products and license support to whoever wanting to do rental business in India” Piracy in India affects the Indian film industry more than American producers and distributors. It is estimated that only 20 percent of pirated goods infringe the copyrights of foreign film titles. The remaining 80 percent of pirated product infringes the copyrights of domestic films. According to Government estimates, the entertainment industry loses up to 1,700 crores annually on account of piracy. Since the beginning of 2004, the MPA has conducted close to 1,000 raids and seizure operations in India in cooperation with law enforcement authorities. Additionally, civil raids have been conducted through court-appointed Local Commissioners in civil suits initiated by MPA member companies. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) represents the interests of major motion picture companies in the global marketplace. On behalf of its member companies, the MPA conducts investigations around the world, assists with the criminal and civil litigation generated by such cases, and conducts education outreach programs to teach movie fans around the world about the harmful effects of piracy. The MPA directs its worldwide anti-piracy operations from its headquarters based in Los Angeles, California and has regional offices located in Brussels (Europe, Middle East and Africa), S??o Paulo (Latin America), Montreal (Canada) and Singapore (Asia-Pacific). The MPA`s anti-piracy activities have helped to transform entire markets from pirate to legitimate, benefiting video distributors, retailers, and foreign and local filmmakers alike. The MPA member companies include: Buena Vista International, Inc.; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Releasing International Corporation; Twentieth Century Fox International Corporation; Universal International Films, Inc.; and Warner Bros. Pictures International, a division of Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.

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