Karnataka High Court reserves verdict in plea to quash FIR against Rahul Gandhi, others in KGF copyright infringement case

The Court stated that the interim protection granted to Gandhi and others in December would continue till the case is disposed of.
Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka High Court
Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved its verdict in a petition seeking quashing of the criminal case registered against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh and Supriya Shrinate in a copyright infringement case for the alleged unauthorised use of music from movie KGF Chapter 2 during the Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign [Jairam Ramesh v State of Karnataka].

Justice M Nagaprasanna heard the parties' arguments and reserved his orders while stating that the interim protection granted to Gandhi and others in December would continue till the case is disposed of.

Senior Advocate Vikram Huilgol, appearing for the Congress leaders, argued that for an offence to be made out under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, the accused must knowingly infringe a copyright.

However, in the case at hand, there was no intent to infringe the copyright.

Additionally, it was argued that the petitioners had not monetised the copyrighted content in any way.

"There is no allegation that I have monetised.. Keeping in mind the object of the Copyright Act.. I have no monetary gain," it was submitted.

On the other hand, Senior Advocate S Sriranga, representing complainant MRT Music, stated that even if it was presumed that no monetary gain was made, the petitioners still gained popularity through the entire exercise.

"Is gain only monetary? Through the entire process, they have gained popularity," argued the senior counsel.

He also underscored that the source code was meddled with by the petitioners and on that basis, infringement has been alleged.

According to MRT Music's complaint, the video for the Bharat Jodo Yatra was created for the purpose of mass circulation on social media platforms, and it used popular sound recordings owned and held by complainant.

They claim that as per the video, it was clear that the accused had fraudulently used the recordings with the intention to make wrongful gains.

MRT had earlier filed a copyright infringement suit as well as a criminal complaint, on the basis of which a first information report (FIR) was registered.

On November 7, while hearing the copyright suit, an Additional City Civil & Sessions Judge at Bengaluru had ordered a local commissioner to visit the Congress party website, conduct an electronic audit and preserve the infringing materials available on their social media. The judge had also granted an injunction in favour of MRT.

This order was immediately challenged before the High Court on November 8 by the Congress.

The High Court had then set aside that order while also directing the Congress party to remove the offending content from its social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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