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Mumbai EOW registers FIR against Telugu channel for causing loss to actor-producer

The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has registered a first information report (FIR) against a Telugu broadcaster following a complaint lodged by actor-producer Deepti Bhatnagar alleging violation of her copyrights by illegally broadcasting her show Yatra.
By Vijay Kumar Yadav, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:19 AM IST

The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has registered a first information report (FIR) against a Telugu broadcaster following a complaint lodged by actor-producer Deepti Bhatnagar alleging violation of her copyrights by illegally broadcasting her show Yatra. The actor alleged that she faced losses of 1.5 crore due to violation of her copyrights.

Bhatnagar’s Deepti Bhatnagar Production in Andheri (West), had produced the actor’s show, Yatra, which was telecasted on Star TV in Hindi in 2001.

In March 2003 Star India Pvt Ltd released multiple rights of the show in the actor’ favour. It included video rights, terrestrial rights for India and Hindi language only, all dubbing rights in all languages (except Tamil), internet and publishing rights, worldwide.

An EOW officer said that in 2014, the complainant got to know that the show was being telecasted on Bhakti channel in Telugu, which is owned by Rachana Television Pvt Ltd. After Star India Pvt Ltd accepted that it was an inadvertent error on their part, the matter was settled.

Following this, Bhatnagar entered into a license agreement with Rachana TV in March 2015, permitting the channel dubbing rights to episodes 81 to 145 of the show for two years.

“The license agreement expired in 2017 and was not extended. However, Rachana TV has been allegedly illegally retaining possession of the master copies of the licensed episodes, even after expiry of the license period,” said the EOW officer.

The actor stated in her complaint that Rachana TV is not only illegally retaining possession of master copies but is also telecasting them on their television channels and online platforms without her permission and without paying any license fees, thus, infringing her copyright of the show.

“I trusted them and handed over my work to them, and they took undue advantage of the trust bestowed upon them and duped me by continuing to telecast the show without informing me. Rachana TV dishonestly misappropriated the master copy/copies and used the same for their monetary benefit without there being any valid agreement for the same,” Bhatnagar stated in the FIR.

“Rachana TV was supposed to protect me and my show’s interest all the time, in lieu of the earlier arrangement, but they had malafide intentions to earn monetary benefit out of the said acts,” she added.

Despite the actor asking them to return the master copies of her show, Rachana TV has till date failed to return them and are enjoying monetary benefits by telecasting the show on their channels and online platforms, police said.

The directors, promoters, representatives and employees of Rachana TV have allowed the over-the-top (OTT) content provider YuppTV to telecast the show on their platform without having any legal or contractual right, and handed over copies of the show without Bhatnagar’s consent and/or permission.

“Rachana TV in connivance with others have caused wrongful loss to the tune of 1.5 crore to us and corresponding gain to themselves,” the actor has alleged.

“We have carried out a preliminary inquiry in the matter for weeks and after cognisable material was found, an FIR has been registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Copyright Act,” said another EOW officer.

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