Chennai: The Madras High Court has dismissed an appeal filed by actress KajalAggarwal against a single-judge order of the court, declaring a coconut oil manufacturing firm as the copyright owner of a cinematograph film, in which she had acted for promoting its products.
A division bench of justices MM Sundresh and N AnandVenkatesh upheld the single-judge order, making it clear that VVD and Sons Private Ltd. was the first owner of the copyright.”A person, who thus becomes the first owner of the copyright for his entire work, has been conferred with a statutory right for a period of 60 years over the cinematograph of the film. A performer in the cinematograph film by virtue of an agreement cannot take this statutory right away. Hence, we hold that VVD is entitled to exploit the work for the entire term prescribed under section 26 of the Copyright Act and is not restricted for a period of one year by the agreement,” the bench said.
As the first owner of the copyright, VVD will have the exclusive right to communicate the cinematograph film to the public “by virtue of section 14(i)(d)(iii) of the Copyright Act,” the bench said and rejected the argument on behalf of Agarwal that the copyright could be enjoyed by VVD only for a period of one year by virtue of a clause in the agreement.”To use the above proviso against VVD, there must be an agreement contrary to the effect that the parties themselves agreed that the producer will not have the copyright, in spite of producing the film,” it said.
The court added that Aggarwal had agreed that VVD would have the copyright over the cinematograph film and the entire promotional material.”Therefore, there is no agreement to the contrary, taking away the copyright of VVD,” the bench said, adding that it did not find any ground to interfere with the findings of the single judge.
It also rejected the argument to compensate the actress as the firm reportedly used the promotional material beyond the period of one year.”There are absolutely no materials for this court to award compensation to KajalAggarwal in this case…in the result, original side appeal stands dismissed,” the bench said. The court had earlier dismissed a suit filed by Aggarwal, in which the actress had sought Rs 2.5 crore as damages from VVD and Sons Private Limited for allegedly misusing her profile for promoting its products, including coconut oil.