Section 2 Copyright Act| Course Materials And Educational Videos Are Considered Literary Works And Cinematographic Films: Delhi HC Reiterates
The Delhi High Court reiterated that skill training videos and courses fall under the category of literary works, Section 2(o) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act), and as cinematographic films under Section 2 (f) of the Act.
While granting an interim injunction, the Court noted that the Defendants had infringed the exclusive rights under Section 14 of the Act and engaged in the unauthorized distribution of the course videos and material.
Justice Prathiba M Singh observed, “In the present case, the Plaintiff holds ownership over the course material, falling within the category of “literary works” as defined by Section 2(o) of the Copyright Act, 1957. The videos of the Plaintiff on various subjects also qualify as "cinematographic films" under Section 2(f) of the Copyright Act, 1957. Consequently, both "literary works" and "cinematographic films" receive protection under Sections 2(o) and 2(f) of the Copyright Act, 1957. Moreover, Section 14 of the Copyright Act acknowledges exclusive rights that belong to the copyright holder. Given that the Plaintiffs' works are safeguarded by the Copyright Act, 1957, any unauthorized distribution or communication, whether in print or electronic form, would amount to copyright infringement”.
Advocate Karan Bajaj appeared for the Plaintiff, and Advocate Anushka Sharda appeared for the Defendants.
The Plaintiff was in the business of training candidates in various skills online, providing recorded videos and live sessions. After paying the requisite fee, the Plaintiff provided access to candidates through a website, www.apnacollege.com. The Plaintiff contended that their material is not downloadable and can only be accessed if the candidate deliberately attempts to download it. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant used social media to disseminate their material to students and charged R. 50-1,000 as payment. Therefore, Plaintiff claimed that Defendant had infringed their copyright and also made various channels across social media platforms to share such material. The Plaintiff approached the Court by way of an Application seeking interim injunction against the Defendant.
The Court noted that Defendants used various means to share Plaintiff's courses, videos, and other materials on digital platforms. Unfortunately, the Court emphasized that these platforms make copying and reproducing copyrighted materials easy. The Court observed that several groups and channels on these platforms have hundreds of subscribers. Defendants are collecting a substantial amount of money to distribute Plaintiff's copyrighted material for free. Some of the evidence also suggests that the Defendants are enticing students and candidates to subscribe to their channels instead of paying the Plaintiff's fee, the Court asserted.
However, the Court held that Plaintiff has legal ownership of the course material covered under the ambit of "literary works" according to Section 2(o) of the Act. The Plaintiff's videos on various subjects also qualify as "cinematographic films" under Section 2(f) of the same act. Therefore, both "literary works" and "cinematographic films" are protected under Sections 2(o) and 2(f) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act). Section 14 of the Act outlines exclusive rights that belong to the copyright holder. Any unauthorized distribution or communication, whether in print or electronic form, would amount to copyright infringement, given that the Plaintiffs' works are safeguarded.
The Court held that the Plaintiff's case is strong, and the balance of convenience favors the Plaintiff. The Court held that allowing Defendants to continue infringing on Plaintiff's copyrighted material would cause irreparable harm. The Plaintiff would suffer significant monetary loss, as well as loss of subscribers and goodwill.
“The Court is convinced that the Plaintiff has made out a prima facie case. Consequently, balance of convenience also lies in favour of the Plaintiff, and irreparable harm would be caused if the infringing activity is allowed to continue. If the Defendants are not blocked from disseminating the copyrighted material of the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff would suffer enormous monetary loss apart from loss of subscribers and of goodwill. A case has been established for grant of an injunction to prevent further dissemination of the Plaintiff’s copyrighted material”, the Court noted.
The Court held that Telegram must receive the specific channel or handle details mentioned in the complaint within three days. Telegram will have 72 hours to block these channels. Additionally, the Court held that Telegram must disclose any available information about the individuals or entities responsible for operating these channels, including email addresses and phone numbers. Once this information is received, the defendants will be included in the ongoing lawsuit.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the injunction and listed the matter for March 22, 2024.
Cause Title: Jainemo Private Limited v Rahul Shah and Others