The evolving scenario of entertainment laws
What is entertainment?
In general terms, entertainment carries within itself the twin seeds of amusement and enjoyment; an activity or event which provides any or both of these qualifying as entertainment. Individual snake charmers to screen icons reflect the evolution of the diversifying means, manner, and mediums of entertainment.
The different genre of entertainment is–
The genre of entertainment encompasses
- live events,
- digital media,
- theme parks to enumerate a few.
This multitude of variety coalesces to build the entertainment industry. An industry that is ever-evolving and instrumental in shaping human thoughts, actions, and society.
There is no such particular entertainment law, it is a combination of laws. It is time for introspection into the fact of inconsistent laws affecting media and entertainment; the legal effects of widely divergent cultural views of privacy, intellectual property, and government regulations.
The threads of multiple jurisdictions, state practices, and customary law have contributed to nebulous entertainment law jurisprudence. These profuse crossing points make entertainment law jurisprudence an intriguing, ever-growing zone throwing up absorbing challenges.
To suggest that entertainment law exists and has shaped laws of more general applicability, we must come to grip with the troubling truth that mere entertainment has the power to shape our culture and our laws. If entertainment law exists as more than a collection of industry regulations, it does so because entertainment often leads the public debate on fundamental notions of economic and moral justice.
Entertainment laws in India-
Major developments in Media and Entertainment Law Sector
FDI restricted to 26% in Digital Media On August 28, 2019, the Press Information Bureau reported that the Union Cabinet had approved the proposal for a review of FDI in various sectors and that a decision was taken to permit 26% FDI under the government approval route for uploading/ streaming of news and current affairs through digital media.
Television Broadcasting and Distribution
a. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) amends the New Tariff Order on January 1, 2020 – The amendments have been made after TRAI issued two Consultation Papers on “Tariff related issues for Broadcasting and Cable services” and “Issues related to Interconnection Regulation, 2017” in the months of August and September 2019 respectively.
The amendment includes:-
1. Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017,
2. Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2017, and
3. Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017.
b. TRAI releases the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements and All Such Other Matters Regulations, 2019- The primary objective of the Register of Interconnect Regulations is to formulate the contours of a reporting system for the service providers so that they can report details of interconnection agreements including commercial details to the relevant authority.
It would enable the authority to maintain a Register of Interconnect as per the provisions of the TRAI Act. These Regulations were challenged before the Delhi HC and the Kerala HC by the Indian Broadcasting Federation and the All India Digital Cable Federation in December 2019 and January 2020, respectively.
c. MIB issued an advisory to channels over the portrayal of children in dance reality shows – The advisory noted that all private satellite TV channels are expected to abide by the provisions contained in Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Rules framed thereunder.
The advisory prohibits all TV channels from telecasting content that denigrates children in any manner, and not encourages them to not showcase vulgar language or violent scenes in programs that are meant for children. The MIB has further advised TV channels to show maximum caution and mindfulness while televising reality TV shows.
MIB advises all private TV satellite channels to carry programs with sign language interpretation for persons with disabilities – In response to concerns raised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities regarding the lack of assistive technology in TV programs, the MIB vide a notification dated February 7, 2019, has advised all private satellite TV channels to carry TV programs with sign language interpretation for access by differently-abled people.
Over-the-top (OTT) platforms sign The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) Code for Self-Regulation Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio, Zee5, AltBalaji, Sony-Liv, Viacom18, and some of the online video streaming platforms who have signed the Code on Self-Regulation drafted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
The “Code for Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers” drafted by the IAMAI aims to act as self-guiding principles for Online Curated Content Providers. In February 2020, the MIB has asked OTT content players to set up an adjudicatory body and finalize a code of conduct within 100 days.
Management Information Base (MIB) sets up ‘Film Facilitation Office’ in National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) as the single window clearance and facilitation mechanism for film shootings – the NFDC as the single window clearance and facilitation mechanism, with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by both domestic and foreign filmmakers in India and to enhance India’s positioning in the global market as an ideal filming destination.
In this regard, the Film Facilitation Office has also set up the web portal www.ffo.gov.in which allows submission of online film shooting applications from both domestic and international filmmakers.
The SC has directed the government of West Bengal to pay INR 20 lakhs compensation to the producer of Bengali film “Bhobhishyoter Bhoot” which suffered unofficial ban- the SC passed a landmark Judgement in Indibility Creative Pvt Ltd. v. Govt. of West Bengal, directing the West Bengal Government to pay compensation of INR 20 lakhs to the producer of the film “Bhobhishyoter Bhoot”, which had to face an “unofficial” ban in the state.
Justice Chandrachud and Justice Gupta had deliberated on the matter stating that once a movie is certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, it is not open to any authority to issue formal or informal directions preventing the producer from having the movie screened.
Print Media –
MIB proposes to replace the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 by Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, 2019 – Through the draft, RPP Bill, 2019, the MIB has proposed to bring digital media in the ambit of the new registration regulations, and do away with prosecution 16 provisions of imprisonment of publishers and to simplify the implementation of the registration process through a Press Registrar General.
The Delhi High Court bars 100 radio channels from streaming audio of World Cup 2019- Channel 2 Group Corporation filed a case in the Delhi HC to prohibit other radio stations, internet and telecom service providers, and websites from broadcasting audio of the ICC World Cup 2019.
The Delhi HC passed an Order dated June 03, 2019, restricting 64 websites, 4 private radio stations, and 36 internet and telecom service providers from broadcasting the audio. However, it was held that the platforms may relay the scores of the cricket matches with a 15-minute time-lag.
Online gaming –
Law Commission Of India issued Press Note on the legal framework for Gambling and Sports Betting – the Report strongly recommended that legalizing betting and gambling was not desirable. The Press Note further clarified that in the current scenario if it is not possible to enforce a complete ban in order to prevent unlawful activities then effective regulation remains the only viable option to control gambling.
SC quashed RBI Circular banning cryptocurrency – in the case of IAMAI v. RBI quashed the RBI Circular dated April 06, 2018, imposing the ban on cryptocurrency. RBI had issued the circular prohibiting all entities regulated by it from dealing in Virtual Currencies. IAMAI, among other stakeholders, had challenged the prohibition before the SC by way of writ petition.
The SC held that the RBI Circular was liable to be set aside on the ground of proportionality. Moreover, it was also held that RBI has not found the activity of exchanging Virtual Currency to have any adverse impact on the functioning of entities regulated by the RBI.
Other important changes –
The Delhi HC passed an Order on global take-down – in the case of Swami Ramdev & Anr v. Facebook & Ors affirmed that Indian Courts can issue global take-down orders to internet intermediaries like Facebook, Google, and Twitter for illegal content published by users of their platforms. The Court held that once content was uploaded ‘from India’ and was made available globally, the removal of such content shall also be world-wide and not just restricted to India.
The Court ordered the intermediaries to take down the content globally, provided they were uploaded from India. For contents that are uploaded from outside India, the Court ordered platforms to ensure that they use appropriate geo-blocking measures so that users having Indian IP addresses were unable to access the content.
With an evolving world and practices of the media and entertainment industry, the entertainment laws will keep changing. In the current scenario, digital media and OTT platforms play a wide role in developing new entertainment laws. Day-by-day a new rule has to be made to have an eye on wrong and unethical practices in the media and entertainment industry.
(Member, The Legal State)
- researchgate.com ; January 2006 Edition: 1 Publisher: Prentice Hall/Pearson ISBN: 0-13-114743-9
- Jon M. Garon, Entertainment Law, 76 TULANE L. REV. 559 (2002).
 Supra note 1
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Supra note 2