Artist agreement breach and importance of safeguarding artiste rights

In the realm of the entertainment industry, a notable legal dispute has surfaced: the case of Divya Spandana versus Gulmohur Films Private Limited. Divya Spandana, a renowned actress known by her stage name Ramya, has taken legal measures against the film production company to secure an injunction, aiming to halt the unauthorized utilization of her name, image, and video clips in the movie trailer. Central to the lawsuit is the contention that the defendants breached an artiste agreement by using her likeness without obtaining the necessary explicit consent, thereby resulting in an infringement of her rights and reputation.

Divya Spandana filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the unauthorized use of her name, image, and video clips in the film titled “Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the terms of an artiste agreement by utilizing her name, photographs, and likeness without her approval. The agreement clearly stated that the producer could only use her name and other aspects with her explicit consent. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that creative decisions were meant to be mutually agreed upon, and she should have been given the opportunity to review the film before its release.

In June 2023, despite the plaintiff’s prior refusal to participate in the film, the defendant sent video clips of scenes featuring her, seeking her confirmation. However, the plaintiff requested the defendants to stop the process, but they continued without her approval, even setting a release date for the movie and its trailer. The trailer prominently featured the plaintiff’s video clips, images, and GIFs, leading to a significant violation of her rights and reputation.

The court noted that the plaintiff had a valid artiste agreement with the defendants, which they breached by disregarding her objections and using her name and images in the film and trailer without her consent. This unauthorized usage potentially infringed upon the plaintiff’s moral rights protected under the Copyright Act, as well as her performer’s rights. Consequently, the defendants were directed to remove all trailers of the film “Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare” that included the plaintiff’s name, photographs, video clips, and GIFs from social media platforms.

Furthermore, the court restrained the defendants from releasing the film “Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare,” which contained the plaintiff’s name, photographs, video clips, and GIFs, either directly or indirectly incorporated, until the next court date. The court’s decision to grant a restraining order aims to safeguard the plaintiff’s rights and reputation, preventing any further unauthorized use of her image in the film and its promotional materials. This court order represents a critical step in preserving the rights of artists and sets a precedent for similar cases in the future.

The court’s recognition of the artiste agreement and its enforcement through the restraining order sets a crucial precedent for safeguarding the integrity and dignity of performers. Thisorder emphasizes the importance of obtaining explicit consent from artists for any usage of their name, likeness, and creative contributions, reinforcing the respect and protection of their rights.

Author: Manisha Singh & Omesh Puri