Mandatory registration of films with Copyright Board to protect IP

MUMBAI: In light of the numerous court cases involving films in recent times, a development has come to the forefront – Literary works registered with individual associations are not valid in the court of law.

This means film scripts and titles registered with associations like Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Association of Motion Pictures and Television Programme Producers (AMPTPP) and Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India are not valid and works have to be registered with the Copyright Board of India if filmmakers want to protect their intellectual property rights (IPR).

Speaking to, IMPAA president Anil Nagrath says, “All registrations done by producers at IMPAA, AMPTPP, Guild or Writer’s Association are null as there are no legal sanctions on the same. These will not be accepted in the court of law and hence works have to be registered at the Copyright Board of India.”

IMPAA is now making its members aware of the fact and will facilitate in getting members’ works registered with the Copyright Board.

Consulta Legal partner Rohini Vakil adds, “The registrations that have been done till now are only valid for internal business within the industry. These registrations don’t hold valid in the court. We have joined hands with IMPAA to make producers aware of this and make them understand the importance of being registered with the Copyright Board.”

The common practice of producers, writers, etc is to register their works with the above mentioned industry bodies. However, most in the industry are not aware of the fact that these won’t hold water in the court.

Vakil adds, “Most people in the industry are not aware of the fact that they need to register their works with the Copyright Board, which is based in Delhi. The industry is growing at a rapid pace and with this the problem of copyright is only going to increase. Hence it is important to make the industry aware of this.”

While IMPAA is fronting this move, other associations are also likely to follow suit. Nagrath informs, “We are looking at forming a new route to legalise all registrations. Registering with the Copyright Board will help in protecting people’s works.”

So will these industry bodies stop the registration practice? Nagrath says, “The idea is not to give up our registration process. We will continue registering our members and help facilitate those members who are interested in getting their registered work with the Copyright Board.”

Vakil informs that in case of a dispute which goes into court, registration with the Copyright Board will only be considered valid.

Recently there has been a flurry of cases on films in India… the latest one being that of Mirchi Movies’ forthcoming movie Hari Puttar. Warner Bros filed a case on the producers on the grounds that the title of the film was phonetically similar to their Harry Potter franchise. The case is still going on in the court as a result of which the release of Hari Puttar has been postponed. At the time of filing this story, Mirchi Movies COO Munish Purii was unavailable for comment.

While it is not compulsory to register with the Copyright Board if they are also registered with the trade associations, it is in a way necessary if one wants to protect their intellectual property.