Karnataka High Court refuses to quash criminal case against Rahul Gandhi, others

Bengaluru,(| The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday refused to quash a criminal case registered against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh, and Supriya Shrinate in a copyright infringement case. A complaint was filed against the leaders for the alleged unauthorised use of music from the film KGF: Chapter 2 during the Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign. Justice M Nagaprasanna stated that the petitioners seem to have taken the copyright of the complainant for granted.

“The declaration that ‘this video is an intellectual property belonging to the Indian National Congress. Please seek prior permission before using any part of this video in any form’ is found in every platform where the video is played, said the justice.”The declaration in any form would be illegal … This would be circumstantial enough to demonstrate that the Indian National Congress has tampered with the source code, and have replaced the song with their song and have portrayed the third petitioner to be a hero of the song,” justice Nagaprasanna said.

“Portraying the third petitioner as a hero in any of the videos cannot become a crime. But, the song that is played in the video, without seeking prior permission/agreement, does amount to violation/ infringement of copyright, of the complainant,” he said.Senior Advocate Vikram Huilgol, appearing for the Congress leaders, submitted that the petitioners have not violated any of the copyright of the owner.The complainant is not the owner of the copyright, but only a licensee from the copyright holder and, therefore, cannot be seen to complain that his copyright has been violated.

He further submitted that videos uploaded on the official twitter page as they have been used for nonprofit and non-commercial purposes in order to spread awareness of the Bharat Jodo Yatra which was only aimed at uniting the country.Huilgol contended that insofar as other offences of the IPC are concerned, there are no ingredients in the facts of the case at hand, and therefore, the crime so registered suffers from want of bona fides on the ground of it being unworthy of any merit.

Appearing for MRT Music, senior counsel S Sriranga refuted the submissions to contend that the petitioners are guilty of all the offences alleged, particularly, of the violation of the Act.

He clarified that the complainant is not a licensee, but an assignee under the provisions of the Act, and therefore, he has equal rights to that of a copyright holder.Sriranga also contended that during the Yatra the song to which the complainant has copyright has been freely played, and the petitioners have taken benefit of the said recording without seeking permission or entering into an agreement with the complainant. He submitted that he has placed a pen drive of the video that is played along with the photographs that are appended, all of which would show blatant violation of copyright, which is an offence under Section 63 of the Act. (UNI)