M.K.S. Vasan v. P. Subramaniam

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Anticipatory bail application in a case involving movie piracy and copyright violation by online platforms

M.K.S. Vasan v. P. Subramaniam
In the High Court of Madras
Crl. OP. (MD) 18801/2014
Before Justice M. Nirmal Kumar
Decided on November 27, 2018

Relevancy of the case: Anticipatory bail application in a case involving movie piracy and copyright violation by online platforms

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Copyright Act, 1956 (Section 63, 63B, 65A, 51, 15(2))
  • The Tamil Nadu Exhibition of Film on TV, VCR and Cable TV (Regulation) Act, 1984 (Section 8(a))
  • Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 379, 380, 406 and 409) 
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66B)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 177)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner’s movie “Raja Ranguski” suffered huge losses due to the act of respondents 1 to 5. Theatres all over Tamil Nadu screened the movie, and it ran successfully for two to three days. Later, suddenly, the revenue went down, and the turnout in theatres reduced.
  • The petitioner felt a suspicion and was browsing the Internet. Subsequently, the petitioner found that the move was copied from theatres and uploaded on certain websites.
  • The complaint filed is to cancel the anticipatory bail earlier granted to the respondents for offences punishable under Sections 51, 63(b), 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957 and Section 8(a) of The Tamil Nadu Exhibition of Film on TV, VCR and Cable TV (Regulation) Act, 1984.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates 

  • The petitioner’s counsel argued that the movie screening utilised the service of QUBE, which provides an in-built security measure to prevent piracy. The company reported that the movie was copied during its screening at ‘Kavithalaya Theatre’ in Karur.
  • The petitioner’s counsel further argued that the security company confirmed the use of HD video cameras to record the movie, and the copying occurred while downloading the movie from the websites for legal proceedings. Additionally, the nature, quality, and angle of the screen projection of the movie displayed on these websites would provide evidence that someone copied it from the ‘Operator Room’.
  • Later, the petitioner discovers that the respondents have fraudulently obtained anticipatory bail.
  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that the video recording happened somewhere in the auditorium and not in the projector room, as per QUBE’s report. The soundtrack is also recorded via microphone, and there is the movement of the audience.
  • The respondents’ counsel argued that respondents 1 to 5 were unaware of the FIR by Respondent 9. Hence, in the apprehension of arrest, they filed an anticipatory bail petition. 

Opinion of the Bench

  • Under Section 177 of CrPC, every offence shall ordinarily be enquired into and tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. Hence, approaching the Court at Karur is beyond the jurisdictional scope.
  • The report reveals that the movie screening took place in the theatres belonging to respondents 1 to 5. Furthermore, someone created a pirated copy by shooting a digital source file using a camera inside the ‘Kavithalaya Theatre’. It is imperative to halt the operation of such notorious websites, as they are detrimental to the film industry.

Final Decision

  • The bench cancelled the anticipatory bail granted to the respondents 1 to 5. However, respondents 6 to 9 were barred from taking any coercive action against the respondents 1 to 5.

Julia Anna Joseph, an undergraduate student at the School of Law, Christ University, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2022.