Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. v. Shreya Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd.

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Broadcasting copyright-protected work without permission or license on a news channel

Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. v. Shreya Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd.
(2019) 258 DLT 116 : (2019) 80 PTC 551
In the High Court of Delhi
CS (OS) 1372/2009
Before Justice Mukta Gupta
Decided on February 25, 2019

Relevancy of the case: Broadcasting copyright-protected work without permission or license on a news channel

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Copyright Act, 1957 (Section 39, 52)
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 65B)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The plaintiff is in the business of marketing and manufacturing audio and video cassettes, CDs, etc., It also holds copyright on the same. The plaintiff company grants licenses to broadcasting organisations.
  • According to the plaintiff, the defendant company, a news channel, engaged in the unauthorised use of the plaintiff’s copyright works to gain viewership. The defendant broadcasted the plaintiff’s copyright work without license or permission. 
  • The plaintiff filed the suit seeking a decree of permanent injunction restraining the defendant. It was mainly from infringing the plaintiff’s copyright in the future.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The plaintiff’s counsel contended that there is no obligation to include the copyright owner in the proceedings because of the assignment in favour of the plaintiff. Subsequently, the plaintiff exhibited the assignment deeds. The plaintiff’s counsel argued that the photocopies were duly submitted, reviewed and returned to and by the court. Thus, no objection can be raised in this context. He pleaded for damages in their favour for mainly two reasons: (1) direct loss of license fee, and (2) irreparable, unquantifiable loss due to infringement.
  • The defendant’s counsel argued that the plaintiff’s copyright lawsuit should be dismissed due to the non-joinder of the author of the artistic work in question and highlighted a distinction between contract work and contract recordings in relation to the assignment deed. He further argued that using excerpts from the plaintiff’s copyright work for reporting current events and review in news dissemination does not constitute copyright infringement.
  • Further, the defendant’s counsel objected to the admissibility of the exhibit in evidence because it did not comply with Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. He argued that there is no proof of substantive damages, invoking the de minimis principle despite the plaintiff’s evidence.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The defendant may not claim benefit under Section 52(1)(a)(ii). The reason is that he neither used the copyrighted work to review nor to criticise the work.
  • Consider the size and type of harm, cost of adjudication, the purpose of the violated obligation, the intent of the wrongdoer, and the effect on the rights of third parties when applying the de minimis principle.

Final Decision

  • The court decided the suit in favour of the plaintiff. It also granted a permanent injunction against the defendant regarding its prayer.
  • The defendant was to pay compensatory damages at ₹21 lakhs to the plaintiff. The court awarded the plaintiff with court fees of ₹22,900.

Srikari Ammanamanchi, an undergraduate student at the NALSAR University of Law, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in May/June 2022.