Categories
Industry Media OTT

Forging Global Connections For An Optimistic Filming Future

Creative First is delighted to present an interaction with Rick Ambros, international media and entertainment executive, consultant and producer (India, China, SE Asia, US, Europe), and Consultant and Executive Producer for Applause Entertainment, India.

The discussion focused on the transformation of the online curated content (OCC) segment driven by platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and cinema industry trends. Rick explained that the emergence of global OCC platforms has created opportunities for local producers to explore innovative content and storytelling formats which were lacking in the Indian media and entertainment industry. Mr. Ambros highlighted that revolutionary changes have taken place in the content creation space in the last five to six years, fuelled by changing audience preferences in addition to their exposure to global content.This has opened new opportunities for producers in terms of partnerships that can be forged between Indian storytellers/producers and international players.

On whether OCC platforms directly compete with traditional TV/ broadcasting, Mr. Ambros mentioned that in most countries, there are more viewers on broadcast than on OCC platforms, however the trend of cord-cutting is catching up fast, globally. An important reason being that the best content from linear TV is being shifted to OCC platforms in many markets and new content is being made by the studios exclusively for online content platforms. In India, he elaborates, apart from the major changes listed above, American streamers like HBO Max, Paramount+, Apple, etc. are working on their India strategy since it is a crucial market for them; and the 100% FDI approved policy is a lucrative draw for them to explore this market. Rick predicts that, in light of these factors, the OCC boom in India is likely to continue and may be serious competition for linear TV.

 

On the benefits of working with film commissions and the value of production and tax incentives, Mr. Ambros stated that producers do consider various tax incentives that are available to them and many films are greenlit on the basis of these. In India, a more stable policy at a state and central level will attract more producers. While already a popular destination with the diversity of locations available, the scope for India to be a more lucrative filming destination is promising with the right incentives in place.

On the subject of theatrical releases, Rick had an optimistic view and highlighted that the theatrical experience will continue to be unique in it’s own offering and will see positive growth. Rick also spoke about various content and business startegies adopted by global OCC providers.

For more insights please view the video.

Categories
Copyright Industry Intellectual Property Media Piracy

IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (September 21st to September 26th)

Twitter appoints personnel in compliance of with new IT Rules

Twitter has appointed Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and Resident Grievance Officer in compliance of IT Rules, 2021. Twitter has appointed these individuals as employees and not ‘contingent workers’ and has also provided names of the said appointed personnel and their respective positions.

This development comes in a petition filed by Amit Acharya stating that Twitter being a ‘significant social media intermediary’ as laid down under the IT Rules, 2021, must ensure compliance with statutory duties imposed upon it by the provision of these rules.

The matter is now fixed for hearing on October 5, 2021.

Bengaluru e-gaming companies plan to challenge ban decision

An amendment to the Karnataka Police Act shall outlaw online gambling and ‘games of chance’. The key concern of various governments with regards to gaming comes through the apprehension that it promotes gambling, however, in the past, there have been judgements that approve ‘skill based gaming’ against ‘chance based games’.

The ban will affect approximately 100 gaming companies operating from Bengaluru.

ASCI dismisses advertisement plagiarism complaint by Amul

A complaint was lodged by Amul Macho alleging that the Lux Cozi advertisement starring Varun Dhawan was a ‘complete copy’ of Amul’s advertisement released in 2007. Amul sought immediate action against Lux on the grounds that the advertisement unfairly took advantage of the brand equity, reputation and goodwill generated by Amul Macho brand.

In response, Lux contended that the complaint seemed to have been initiated with an intention to malign Lux’s reputation in the eyes of public and waste the time of the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC), adjudicatory body of the ASCI. It also pointed out a list of dissimilarities to show how the concept, theme and expression of both advertisements were in complete contrast to each other and hence, there can be no scope of similarity whatsoever.

Lux also informed the CCC that Amul’s advertisement had been a subject of controversy soon after it was released in 2007 on account of its “objectionable and indecent content”, and was banned by the Ministry of Information & Broadcast across all mediums.

Observing that both advertisements barely had any similarities between them, the CCC held that Lux’s advertisement was not in contravention of the ASCI code and rejected Amul’s complaint.

Google moves Delhi High Court against confidential report leak

A writ petition was filed by Google before the Delhi High Court alleging leak of an interim fact finding report relating to an ongoing investigation into Google’s Android smartphone agreements.

The report does not reflect the final decision of the CCI.

Marvel sues to keep rights to Avengers character from copyright termination

Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time.

The litigation figures to focus on the “Marvel Method,” a loose collaborative working atmosphere where initial ideas were briefly discussed with artists responsible for taking care of the details. The Marvel Method has been the subject of prior litigation, almost a decade ago, in August 2013, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling that determined Kirby’s heirs couldn’t wrest back his share of rights to the characters because the former Marvel freelancer had contributed his materials as a work made for hire.

The Kirby case was then petitioned up to the Supreme Court, with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg signaling some interest in taking up the case. Marvel at the time fought hard against any high court review, and before the justices decided, the case was settled.

If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.

Criminal complaint filed against Javed Akhtar

The complaint is against Javed Akhtar’s statement linking RSS to Taliban. Joshi, the Mumbai lawyer, heard Akhtar on a talk show and felt that the alleged statement were meant to defame and vilify the Hindu community.

Joshi’s statement read, “Statements made by the accused is well planned, thought and calculated defamatory statements to defame RSS and discourage, disparage and misguide the people who have joined RSS or who would like to join the RSS and belittle the RSS in the eyes of common public. There was a well planned motive of the accused to defame RSS.”

Joshi has even prayed for investigation for offences of defamation which are punishable under the IPC Sections 499 and 500. The complaint will be heard on October 30.

Plagiarism claim against song titled ‘Teri Mitti’

Writer Manoj Muntashir has refuted all allegations of him having copied the Teri Mitti song from ‘Kesari’ from a Pakistani song.

Muntashir claims that issues have cropped up against him due to a video made by him on the Mughals where he has used strong words against them, referring to them as glorified dacoits.

Plea moved in Delhi High Court seeking withholding of ‘The Conversion’ release

The Petitioner body has submitted that it had sent a representation to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and also to YouTube complaining about the biased and communal content shown in the trailer of the film and had also requested to remove the trailer and withhold the release of the of the film, but it didn’t receive any response.

The matter was heard today by a Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh however, it was adjourned as the counsel for Petitioner, appearing through video conference, was inaudible.

The Court has now adjourned the matter for hearing on October 1, 2021.

De Minimis Defense Doesn’t Protect Minimal Use of Concededly Infringing Material

Richard Bell took a photo of the Indianapolis skyline and published it on various websites. Eleven years later, he registered the photo with the US Copyright Office. Bell later conducted an online reverse image search of his photo to identify potential infringers and subsequently filed more than 100 copyright infringement lawsuits.

Bell sued Wilmott for copyright infringement in 2018, asserting that Wilmott infringed his right to “display the copyrighted work publicly” by making it accessible to the public on Wilmott’s server. The district court granted summary judgment to Wilmott on the de minimis use defense.

The Ninth Circuit rejected the district court’s finding that Wilmott’s infringement was a “technical violation” because Wilmott did not know the photo was still on its website. The Ninth Circuit also found that there was no place for an inquiry into whether there was de minimis copying because the “degree of copying” was total since the infringing work was an identical copy of the copyrighted photo.

This article was originally published on IPRMENTLAW.

Categories
Blog Industry Media OTT

Here to co-exist: Broadcast during the Covid-19 pandemic

In this insightful interaction, Mr. Nagpal, MD & CEO, Tata Sky, shares his views on the ever-evolving nature of broadcast, how the sector adapted to the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the demographic trends in India’s consumption patterns, and Tata Sky’s strategy going forward. He also shares engaging anecdotes from his extensive travels and experience in the sector.

On the evolving landscape in the broadcast sector, he said that it is this dynamic quality of the sector that makes it an exciting place to be, and that there hasn’t been a time when the broadcast sector wasn’t challenged or professed to be defunct in the future.

Commenting on the ways in which the sector adapted to the pandemic, he said that the broadcast sector was able to serve customers because it was in the process of digitising query-handling processes online before the pandemic struck. A major change that resulted from the pandemic was customer care executives taking calls from home, he remarked.

Regarding consumption patterns of the DTH consumer, Mr. Nagpal stated that the DTH consumer is no different from the cable, YouTube, or any other consumer, and likes to be entertained. He further explained that when there’s a major event like a cricket match or the election results are coming out, there is a certain shift from entertainment to that event, but the core entertainment segment still exists since not every consumer makes the switch.

When it comes to installations and sign ups, there are more subscribers coming in from villages than from cities. According to him, there are two reasons for this: one, the number of people living in villages in India consist of 65-70% of the population, and second, DTH is more amenable for villages since a tower connects 10 or more villages, while wire connectivity is a difficult task to establish in such conditions. Further, South India is a major contributor in new additions to installations since the South has always seen more film production and entertainment addiction, he observed.

Speaking about the opportunities for Tata Sky in the coming future, Mr. Nagpal said the fact that out of 280 million households in India, 100 million still don’t have access to a television is in itself a great opportunity. Further, converting a portion – if not all – of the 40-45 million homes that watch Free to Air, to paid subscribers remains a goal for the near future for Tata Sky.

Expressing his views on regulation, Mr Nagpal feels that there is a need for transparent dialogue between the regulators and industry players, with the aim to find a middle path. This transparency in discussions, which is currently missing according to him, is needed for both parties to do their jobs well.

Tata Sky’s latest offerings combine DTH viewing and OTT viewing both via a single device. When asked if this was a form of cord cutting, Mr Nagpal said that in India, television and OTT will always be “ands”, not “ors”. Elucidating further, he said with the changing digital landscape, some customers who have signed up for OTT have given up on a TV connection, but it is important to note that not all of those customers have done so.  Given that it isn’t cord cutting in the true sense, it only makes sense to adapt to distributing on-demand content if the Tata Sky customer wishes to watch it.

On Tata Sky’s encryption standards and preventive measures taken to tackle piracy, he revealed that the signal transmitted from Tata Sky is encrypted in a manner that it cannot be decrypted unless authorised by someone at the company. Further, in the event of someone trying to retransmit the signal, fingerprinting mechanisms such as the 8-digit alphanumeric code help in identifying the rogue connection and stopping it. Tata Sky takes piracy very seriously and is committed to prevent any infringement of content belonging to rightful owners, Mr. Nagpal maintained.

Speaking of traveling to customers’ homes – especially in villages – despite being in the broadcast sector, Mr. Nagpal said that broadcast is actually Faster Moving Consumer Goods and that it is important for broadcasters to meet with customers to figure out customer desires yet unfulfilled by the sector: “We first discover customer need and then use technology to create products and processes to fulfil them,” he stated.

For more insights, view our video with Mr. Harit Nagpal.

Categories
Blog Hollywood Industry Media

How the Emmy-Nominated “WandaVision” VFX Team Made Magic

Laden with special effects, big-name stars, and an audacious high concept, WandaVision represented a big swing for Marvel Studios when it debuted in January on Disney+. The bet paid off. Creator Jac Schaeffer’s series quickly became one of the season’s most talked-about new shows and it’s now validated all that buzz with a whopping 23 Emmy nominations. The hook? Superheroic witch Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and android Vision (Paul Bettany) disguise themselves as man and wife living sitcom-perfect lives in small-town New Jersey. Juxtaposed against the couples’ seventies-styled retro innocence is a nefarious supernatural scheme that threatens to destroy Wanda and Vision’s safe harbor in the aftermath of 2019’s cataclysmic Avengers: Endgame. Oh, and one more twist—Vision died in Avengers: Infinity War, so his presence in WandaVision was all the more mysterious.

Helping to jolt crimson-headed Vision from one dimension to the next is Toronto VFX company Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ), which earned visual effects nominations for WandaVision as well as Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. Launched in 2018, MARZ uses artificial intelligence to deliver movie-quality effects on TV budgets.

Visual effects supervisor Ryan Freer and MARZ Chief Operating Officer Matt Panousischecked in with The Credits to talk about Bettany’s chin, Vision’s cape, and other transformational tricks of the computer-generated trade.

WandaVision VFX Reel — Vision | MARZ from MARZ VFX on Vimeo.

Congratulations on your Emmy nominations for The Umbrella Academy and especially for WandaVision, which marks the first time you worked for Marvel. How did you get the gig?

Ryan: We did a test for Marvel doing our version of a shot from Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Vision’s basically being born. Marvel gave us the [background] plate and some assets that had been done already by another vendor and asked us: Can you do this? We’d just done a bunch of head replacement stuff on HBO’s Watchmen so we were able to create the shot to their standard, and that got the ball rolling.

Matt: The big caveat there is not just “can you do it?” but can you do it on a [shorter] TV timeline and [lower] budget. Marvel’s the epitome of premium episodic television so there was a lot of work that went into it getting the shot where it needed to be.

How did this sitcom-inspired version of Vision differ from the big screen character?

Ryan: In the movies, he’s very calm and collected but in our show, Vision does funny slap-sticky things. The director [Matt Shakman] and even Paul Bettany didn’t know if Vision being goofy was going to work. Also, we’ve never seen Vision in black and white, we’ve never seen him in the seventies. These are things we worked really hard with Marvel to perfect.

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in ‘WandaVision.’ Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved/Disney+

 

Details are so important in making visual effects seem believable. What are some more subtle aspects of Vision that you guys obsessed over?

Ryan: One of the little things people don’t notice is that Vision has eyelashes in our show, which he does not have in the movies. Another thing is that Paul Bettany has a very large chin, but Vision has a small chin. We got a lot of notes from Marvel: “Vision’s chin looks too much like Paul’s chin!” When you’re watching the show, you may not see it, but you feel it.

L-r: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in ‘WandaVision.’ Courtesy Marvel Studios/Disney+

 

People definitely notice each time Paul Bettany’s human-looking character morphs into his true android self. How did you design those visual effects?

Ryan: In one of the black and white episodes, we did a transformation of Paul going from a synthezoid to a person and sent it to Marvel. They said it looks great but we want it to be cheesy and retro like it’s from the fifties. So we did a couple of versions back and forth and wound up landing on this very glittery I Dreamed of Jeannie kind of thing. It’s funny because usually, you’re not supposed to notice the CG effect, but here, we threw in a visual effect from the era and blended multiple [styles of] visual effects on top of each other.

There’s also an old-school vibe when we see voltage flickering across Vision’s face. What inspired that look?

Ryan: In the [1982] movie Tron, they would actually cut some of the film and expose the light behind it to get the effect. That’s the kind of technology they had back then, so we took a lot of reference from that, which was super fun.

Just to be clear, Vision’s beet-red head is computer generated?

Ryan: The only thing we’re pulling from Paul’s acting is his eyes, his nose, and his mouth. That’s it. Everything else is CG whenever you see Paul Bettany as Vision, with no ears.

Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Courtesy Marvel Studios.

 

How did you create the digital skin to make the human actor looks like the superhero Vision?

Ryan: We’d receive footage of Paul Bettany wearing a bald cap, ears sticking out, and he’s got tracking markers all over his face and neck. We remove the markers with an in-house removal system driven by AI, because paintwork, especially track marking removal, can be very costly. Once we have a solid track of that CG head, we align the shoulders so it lines up properly. Then the animators go and create his jaw, his eyebrows, they knock out the ears, they smooth the skin, they’re adding these very fine panels on top of his cheeks and adding a gem on his chin. Everything has to be rock solid because if something starts jittering or not moving with his facial expression, then you lose the performance and that’s the most important part.

Matt: We’ve made heavy investments in artificial intelligence to get things done faster. AI has ended up saving the client hundreds of thousands of dollars and tons of time, about a day of savings per shot. Multiply that across 400 shots that we did for the show and it adds up to about 400 artist days that are effectively gone.

Vision likes to levitate. How did you pull that off?

Ryan: The big episode six Halloween scene, where Vision transforms and flies up into the sky, was probably our most technically difficult shot. The entire ground [showing a nighttime vista of suburban Westview] is a digital map painting. They put Paul in a rig against a green screen all done up in his costume and makeup. When he flies up, the camera rotates around him, but we ended up going full digital-double with the body, which gave us a lot more control. And one of the cool things about Vision is that his cape is entirely CG because a [real] cape has a mind of its own, the way it ripples. You can’t get it to act the way you want.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Courtesy Marvel Studios.

 

I imagine you had an entire team devoted to Vision’s CG cape?

Ryan: Within our pipeline, we have a department that brings in the [background] plates, we have tracking, layout, animation, effects which is where the cape would be done, a lighting department, compositing. Each department has its own lead, so every small detail is looked at closely.

Ryan, how did you train to become the guy who supervises everybody’s work?

Ryan: l wanted to do something in the arts but I was also a computer nerd so I went into computer animation, took a three-year program at Durham College in Ontario, and loved it. Out of school, I did animation, motion graphics, visual effects — I’ve dabbled in everything enough to develop an eye for making things look good and understanding how to not make things look bad basically. I call myself more like a glorified generalist.

Matt: When Ryan looks at something, he can see things that the artists can’t see.

Ryan: A lot of it has to do with timing because every shot is based on reality – – until it’s not. Many times I’ll tell my team “That’s moving too fast,” or “It’s too slow.” If it doesn’t look right in the shot, you might have to cheat things for the camera whether it’s based on reality or not.

This article was originally published in The Credits.

Categories
Blog Media

The American Music Fairness Act (AMFA): The Canadian Dimension

Last week I posted a blog on the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), draft US legislation that seeks to end the exemption that US terrestrial broadcasters enjoy with respect to payment of broadcast royalties to performers and labels for playing recorded music. It is an anomalous situation in which the US is the only developed country jurisdiction to provide such an advantage to terrestrial broadcasters. Not only that, the exemption unfairly tilts the playing field within the US broadcasting industry by discriminating against digital broadcasters, since streaming services and digital and satellite US broadcasters are required to pay performance royalties. It is also an anomaly because terrestrial (and other) broadcasters are required to pay royalties to songwriters and composers when they play their music, just not to performers (in the case of AM/FM stations).

As a result of this longstanding special treatment for terrestrial radio stations, which dates back to the dawn of the radio era in the US, not only do US performers in the US not get paid royalties when their work is played on terrestrial radio, but foreign artists are likewise deprived of such payments. As a result, many countries reciprocate by denying to US artists the ability to collect performance royalties when their works are played on terrestrial radio in their countries. This is permitted by the international convention that governs such matters, the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996 (WPPT). The WPPT, which the US ratified in 2002, provides that, in the words of WIPO;

Performers and producers of phonograms have the right to a single equitable remuneration for the direct or indirect use of phonograms, published for commercial purposes, broadcasting or communication to the public. However, any Contracting Party may restrict or – provided that it makes a reservation to the Treaty – deny this right. In the case and to the extent of a reservation by a Contracting Party, the other Contracting Parties are permitted to deny, vis-à-vis the reserving Contracting Party, national treatment.

In other words, instead of applying national treatment, i.e. treating foreign performers “no less favourably” than domestic performers, Contracting Parties could apply reciprocity, discriminating against foreign performers if their home countries failed to provide the full benefits of the treaty. Tit for tat, or the “mirror principle”. At the time the US acceded to the WPPT it filed a reservation with respect to equitable remuneration because the performance right under US law is not applicable to terrestrial broadcasting. This led a number of countries to exercise their right to refuse to collect or pay royalties owed to US artists for performance of their works on their terrestrial radio stations. Among them was Canada, as well as many EU countries, including Ireland and, at the time, the UK.

But it gets more complicated. The policy of applying reciprocal rather than national treatment to US performers was recently challenged in a dispute between copyright collectives in Ireland. The Irish court then referred the matter to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ). In a preliminary ruling, the ECJ found that Irish law, which applied reciprocity, was not consistent with EU law, which is silent on the reciprocity question leading the Court to conclude that it was not permitted. However, this was not the end of the matter as the European Commission is now launching a study into the impact of this decision. A solution, pushed by some in the European music industry, is to amend EU law to allow individual member states to continue to apply the reciprocity principle, writes music journalist Chris Cooke.

Because Canada, like Ireland the UK and others, applied reciprocal rather than national treatment to US performing rights, Canadian broadcasters were not required to pay, nor did Canadian collecting societies (Re:Soundand others) collect, performance royalties on US works. The US music industry, which to date has been unsuccessful in having the terrestrial broadcast royalty exemption lifted despite years of trying, has been seeking “national treatment” as a fallback. If granted national treatment, US performers are able to collect radio royalties in countries that mandate payment of performance royalties by broadcasters, even though they and non-US performers are denied such royalties in the US. For US performers it is a partial solution. That solution is now coming to Canada.

As part of the updating of NAFTA and its replacement by the USMCA (known as CUSMA in Canada), the US, Canada and Mexico agreed to national treatment when it comes to “all categories of intellectual property covered in the (IP) Chapter”; viz.

Each Party shall accord to nationals of another Party treatment no less favorable than it accords to its own nationals with regard to the protection (2) of intellectual property rights.

But that is all about “protection”, not payment of royalties, right?

Did you notice the footnote (2)? That says, among other things,

For the purposes of this paragraph, “protection” also includes…any form of payment, such as licensing fees, royalties, equitable remuneration, or levies, in respect of uses that fall under the copyright and related rights in this Chapter.

To implement this commitment, on April 29, 2020, the Government of Canada published a Statement Amending the Statement Limiting the Right to Equitable Remuneration of Certain Rome Convention or WPPT Countries, in the Canada Gazette, the publication of record for the Government of Canada. In plain English, this complicated “statement amending the statement…etc” means that U.S. recordings are now eligible in Canada for equitable remuneration under all tariffs applied by the collecting society responsible for performance royalties. U.S. recordings fixed before 1972 will also now be eligible. This is as a result of changes introduced in the US by the US Music Modernization Act, which among many other things, extended copyright protection under US federal law to pre-1972 sound recordings. The change in Canada for pre-1972 recordings came into effect April 29, 2020 while the rest of the changes came into effect on July 1, 2020, the date when the USMCA/CUSMA entered into force.

This is one more copyright related commitment in the USMCA/CUSMA that I probably should have included in my blog on the cultural aspects of the trade agreement that I posted on its first anniversary at the beginning of July this year. (I am making amends now). As an aside, and unrelated to the USMCA, for certain tariffs (satellite radio, pay audio, simulcasting, non-interactive and semi-interactive streaming) U.S. recordings became eligible as of August 13, 2014 as a result of Canada’s ratification of the WPPT. (This was because US law requires digital broadcasters to pay performance royalties, so Canada accorded US recordings national treatment). As noted above, on April 29, 2020, pre-1972 U.S. recordings also became eligible for the same treatment.

As a result of the USMCA, for US artists the problem of performance royalties paid by Canadian terrestrial broadcasters is “solved”, even though they do not get performance royalties from terrestrial broadcasters in their own country. This change will impose some additional costs on Canadian radio stations although the Canada Gazette did not hazard a guess as to the cost, saying in effect that it was too complicated to calculate. Canada also has its own peculiarity when it comes to payment of performance royalties, which complicates calculations. The first $1.25 million in advertising revenues for terrestrial stations is sheltered from performance royalty payments except for a nominal $100 fee. In effect, this is a greatly watered-down version of the performance royalty exemption enjoyed by US radio stations, and is as controversial in Canada (and as unpopular with the music industry) as the terrestrial broadcast exemption is in the US.

While the new USMCA/CUSMA provisions will help US artists earn revenues when their recordings are broadcast in Canada, this does nothing to solve the problem for Canadian artists with regard to royalties for the broadcast of their music on US AM/FM stations, nor does it do anything for US artists in the US (a far bigger market of course). Any improvement in outcomes for artists is a step forward, but the tiny step taken in Canada is dwarfed by what would happen in the US if the American Music Fairness Act becomes law. It has a long way to go, and the US broadcast lobby is well organized and well-funded. This is not the first time this issue has come before Congress, the most recent being in 2017 when the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act” was introduced. Despite determined efforts by the music industry at generating support in Congress, ultimately it did not make it through the legislative sausage machine. Now the issue is back on the congressional agenda; it is high time to end this anomalous exception to payment of copyright performance royalties by bringing US law into alignment with the rest of the modern world.

Getting national treatment for US performing artists in Canada is positive (for this one group of performers) but is nonetheless only a half-step forward, an interim measure. The US Congress needs to fix the problem once and for all by passing the AMFA and eliminating the broadcast exemption. That is the right thing to do for all artists affected by the non-payment of performance royalties for radio broadcasts, whether they are from the US, Canada or elsewhere. Enacting the AMFA would also eliminate the disparity (some would say unfairness) whereby Canadian broadcasters will now be paying royalties to US performers while Canadian performers are denied the same benefits in the US.

This article was originally published on Hugh Stephens Blog.

Categories
Industry Media

Breaking: RMPL (recorded music performance limited) receives registration as a copyright society for sound recordings

The DPIIT under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce & Industry has granted certificate of registration to Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL) under Section 33(3) of the Copyright Act, 1957 and permitted it to commence and carry on the copyright business in sound recording works. Read certificate here.

As covered in our post here,  PPL had moved the Delhi High Court against Government order cancelling its registration application. The Delhi High Court had clarified that if PPL finally succeeds in the present matter, its application for re-registration would stand revived. Further, the Hon’ble Court also directed the Government to keep the aforesaid in mind and till the pendency of this petition not to take any action inconsistent to the above-mentioned position.

As covered in our post here, the Copyright Office had issued a public notice on May 22, 2018 inviting attention of general public and stakeholders to the fact that Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL) has vide their application dated March 26, 2018 applied through the Registrar of Copyrights, before the Central Government for its registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in respect of Sound Recording Works.

In view of RMPL procuring registration as a copyright society and given the fact that most of the major music labels are members of PPL, it would now have to be seen if Government grants PPL registration as a society for the same class of works i.e. sound recording.  Section 33(3) requires that the Central Government shall not ordinarily register more than one copyright society to do business in respect of the same class of works.

The Government has been calling for stakeholder meetings to discuss the various aspects pertaining to registration of multiple copyright societies as opposed to single copyright society in a single class of work.  Read our posts on this topic herehere,  here and here.

This article was originally published in IPRMENTLAW.

Categories
Industry Media OTT Piracy

Cinemas, Content & COVID

Vivek Krishnani, an industry veteran, has spearheaded the development and release of several blockbusters in Hindi  as well as other regional languages. In conversation with Creative First, he shares unique insights and personal anecdotes on the state of affairs in the M&E industry, including his thoughts on what it will take to revive growth in the theatrical segment.

Talking about the M&E industry’s 5 year trajectory into the future, Vivek points out that while the pandemic has continued to be a challenging time, it has also forced the M&E industry to introspect on how a business can improvise on a new growth strategy. He highlights that though the sector fell 24% ($81.9 billion) ] in 2020,  since the process of unlocking the country began, a marked improvement in revenues was observed.

When it comes to the theatrical space, Vivek pointed to markets like China and Japan where, once Covid-19 was brought under control, people came back to theatres, revenues were seen to go off the roof. He believes that the Indian theatrical market will have the same experience.

Speaking of the strategic changes that have come about in the M&E industry post 2020, Vivek said that at the crux of it, the texture of content is changing. Studios are now engaged in solving the question of what content will appeal to what kind of people and on what platform. There is a huge strategic shift being observed in the way content creators are looking at providing entertainment; understanding consumers has become the most important aspect of content creation. As a studio, we are creating films for theatres, but at the same time, we are also looking at creating content for OTT platforms.”

Vivek pointed that the number of subscribers have gone up from 10-15 million to 28 million on SVOD platforms, which means that technology is going to play a major role in the M&E industry going forward.

When it comes to technologies that are most likely to bring the next wave of change in the M&E industry, in Vivek’s opinion, engaging and interactive content like Black Mirror – Bandersnatch is going to be a game changer. VR, a technology that can enable theatres to have a visual spectacle, or provide an immersive experience to audiences will see a huge amount of support coming their way. AI and machine learning too, will come to play a larger role in the M&E industry. To sum up, technology that will make things easier for people who are producing or consuming is something that will have a huge growth. It is then only natural for studios to invest in these technologies – after all if the audience wants a great experience, it only makes sense to give it to them.

 

 

On the subject of tax incentives for producers, Vivek said that the single window clearance and state level incentives are very beneficial to productions. It boosts allied businesses in a state, and the tax incentive is a good draw for producers to explore new locations. He believes that it is a huge opportunity for filmmakers to capture the visual splendour, unexplored Indian landscapes have to offer and coupled with tax incentives, it is an icing on the cake.

Imagining what a federal incentive in India should look like, Vivek suggested taking a look at what the rest of the world is doing and then adopting what works for a country like India. He added that a cash incentive would be lucrative but whether it is practical when compared to a tax concession is something that remains to be seen.

With regards to screen density, he said that India is definitely an under-screened market – it has 7 screens per million people, while China has 65 screens per million and the US has 110 per million. He added that the market potential still allows for a bullish take on the growth of cinemas in India. According to him, the focus should be building cinema screens in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. He also expressed hope in the promising initiatives by the government to start cinema viewing experiences at bus stops and railway stations.

Touching on the subject of piracy, he remarked that box office revenue would be 5 times more of what it is now if it wasn’t for the threat of piracy. While studios like Sony have been watermarking digital prints and working with industry bodies like Motion Picture Association  (MPA) to create outreach and awareness activities, what will bring about real change is the awareness in the consumer’s mind that piracy is akin to stealing, he added.

In conclusion, Vivek said that studios and exhibitors need to utilise content and technology to create experiential opportunities for theatregoers – which is exciting considering the M&E industry is the best place for new, unique and innovative ideas.

 

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Broadcast & Beyond

In a world where assumptions drive perceptions and shape opinions, Sunil Lulla is a man who presents every claim and supports it with data. A large assumption in today’s mobile-led era would be that traditional broadcast television is seeing a downturn. Sunil Lulla, the CEO of BARC India, in our conversation addresses this assumption and shows that in fact, the industry is still growing.

 

Sunil sees television to see growth over the next 10 years and is bullish on it’s role as a content medium for demographics across regions, languages and ages. The robust growth of TV has continued in the last year and advertising has also seen a growth.

 

Not to say, that the industry has no challenges and what mobiles change in the market is taking the screen from the household to the individual making it more accessible for the individual viewer.

 

With regards to neutrality, Sunil talks about BARC’s role in neutrality with regards to reporting and a level playing field with a neutral measurement platform between digital and television.

 

With regards to policy, Sunil mentions how the government creates policy keeping the consumer in mind. He also feels the broad and open policy by the government still allows for freedom of speech from a policy perspective.

 

With regards to the future for broadcasting, Mr.Lulla feels that global sports, especially the Olympics will be a huge event on a global scale which will fuel viewership this year. Globally, he feels, television and digital will see huge growth. On local shores, the low subscription rates for television make it more competitive and accessible with regards to television viewership.

 

With his unique role in BARC, Sunil has interesting insights on Indian viewership and what we watch.

 

And while a large number of new television channels are being launched, Doordarshan still saw a huge surge last year, almost 69%.

 

 

For more insights on the matter, view our video interview with Mr.Lulla.

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Media

New “WandaVision” Featurette Teases Wanda’s World Coming Undone

A new behind-the-scenes featurette makes the case that the wild ride we’ve been on in WandaVision hasn’t even kicked into high gear yet. Showrunner Jac Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman’s patient, period-perfect series has begun to reveal some of the secrets it holds. The sitcom world that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) exist in seems to be of Wanda’s creation. As we’ve seen in recent episodes, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) infiltrated Wanda’s Westview creation to find out just what the heck is going on in there. What we’ve learned thus far is that Wanda built this alternate reality in order to reanimate and live with her lost love Vision. Vision, of course, was brutally killed by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, only he wasn’t snapped into dust, he was literally killed. This means that when the Avengers undid Thanos’s snap in Endgame, it couldn’t bring Vision back. Only Wanda could do that.

Recent episodes have pulled back the curtain a bit. We now know that S.W.O.R.D. is onto Wanda’s machinations, with Monica reporting from the inside and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Dary Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) trying to crack the case from the outside. The end of the last episode offered the first evidence of those cracks starting to form. First, you’ve got Vision himself starting to realize something is not only wrong but that it’s Wanda’s doing. Second, you’ve got Wanda herself confronting S.W.O.R.D. in the real world, and third, you’ve got tremors within the larger MCU making things confusing for Wanda herself.

That was most evident when her brother Pietro/Quicksilver (played by the X-Men‘s Evan Peters!) shows up at the end of the episode. This was odd not only because it seems to be a bit of an X-Men crossover with Peters playing Pietro and not Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played him in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Pietro died in that film.

The featurette promises that Wanda’s world of Westview is about to break down. Paul Bettany himself says, “I think it’s gonna be really satisfying when people realize what is at the heart of this show.” And what will the heart of this series be? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but you can rest assured it will have major implications for the MCU going forward.

Check out the featurette below. WandaVision‘s next episode streams on Disney+ on Friday.

 

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