Decided on December 23,1994



A.N. Varma, J. (Chairman) - (1.) THIS complaint submitted under Section 36A of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, along with an application for interim injunction under Section 12A of the same Act is directed against a trade practice stated to be indulged in by respondents Nos. 1 to 6 who are engaged in the business of buying films and processing and making videogram cassettes, discs, tapes in relation to feature films for sale and/or private and public exhibition on video playback equipment, commonly referred to as VCRs.
(2.) Put in a nutshell the complaint is that these respondents are representing that the cassettes marketed by them to the public and to the consumers are an exact copy of the original censored celluloid film of the same title. The respondents' are affixing on video cassettes a declaration that the film is an exact copy of the film approved by the Central Board of Film Certification. Implicit in the representation is a further claim that the video cassette of the film does not have any alterations, additions or excision or any other alteration when in fact the practice prevailing is that the films are not an exact copy of the original film but the shortened or distorted version thereof. The allegation is that these respondents are engaging extensively in the practice of inserting or superimposing advertisements on the video cassettes both across the width of the film as well as lengthwise so as to accommodate the advertisements interspersed throughout the length of the cassette. The obvious motive attributed is that guided entirely by commercial instincts the respondents are engaging in such practice of inserting advertisements on the film without regard to its authenticity and total effect. Such a trade practice, the complainant urge, plainly attracts the provisions of Clauses (i), (iv) and (v) of Section 36A(1) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act. The trade practice is also stated to be prejudicial to public interest in that it misleads the public and the consumers into believing that the video cassettes are an exact production of the film. Along with the complaint, and in support thereof, several video cassettes produced by the various respondents Nos. 1 to 6 were submitted by them. In the course of preliminary hearing these cassettes were also played on VCR to demonstrate the points briefly outlined hereinabove.
(3.) THE respondents put in appearance through their learned counsel in response to the notice denying the charge that they were indulging in any unfair trade practice. THE contention was that the authenticity of the film is not in any way compromised as a result of the advertisements which according to them do not either block any part of the movie nor curtail its length or width. It is also the case of the respondents that for determining the question whether any provisions of the Cinematograph Act have been violated or not the appropriate forum would be the authority created under that Act and not this Commission. THE respondents further contend that they are holders of copyrights of pictures marketed by them by virtue of licence granted to them by the copyright holders and consequently no exception could be taken to the exercise of that right by them. Even if it be assumed that there has been some breach of the right of the copyright holders, this Commission shall not be the competent authority to examine the same.;

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