Karnataka HC issues contempt notice to Rahul, other Congress leaders over ‘KGF’ music row

Bengaluru-based music label, MRT Music, in their contempt petition claimed that the Congress is willfully disobeying court orders and failed to remove videos using copyrighted music from 'KGF-2' from the Bharat Jodo Yatra and their party social media handles

Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi, Congress, foot march
On Friday (December 2), Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi issued notice to the Congress leaders asking them to respond to the contempt petition filed by the Bengaluru-based music label, MRT Music

Admitting a petition against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and party leaders Jairam Ramesh and Supriya Shrinate for contempt of high court orders, a divisional bench of Karnataka Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi issued notice to the Congress leaders asking them to respond to the petition.

The contempt petition has been filed by Bengaluru-based music label, MRT Music, claiming that the respondents, the Indian National Congress (INC) has failed to remove the videos using the copyright music from Kannada film, KGF-2, from the social media handles of the party and Bharat Jodo Yatra. It is a case of copyright infringement as MRT Music owns the rights to KGF-2 music.

In its petition, MRT Music said that the respondents were willfully disobeying the orders of the HC issued on November 8. The party and the leaders were violating the affidavit it had filed where it said that it would take down the tweets with the said videos, said the company.

For the uninitiated, MRT Music had registered an FIR at the Yeshwantpur police station and filed a case at a trial court in Bengaluru after the Indian National Congress used the music from the blockbuster film KGF-Chapter 2, in the marketing videos of their very latest Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign featuring Rahul Gandhi, without getting any permission.

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The counsel representing the music label had filed a case against the three Congress leaders under sections 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 465 (punishment for forgery), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Section 63 of the Copyrights Act, 1957.

The music label had said that they had invested huge sums of money to acquire classics as well as the latest music, including the music rights of the biggest movie of the year KGF Chapter 2 in Hindi. However, the INC had picked up the songs from this movie without seeking MRT Music’s permission/license in any manner and had used these songs to create their Bharat Jodo Yatra marketing videos posted on their social media handles.

Lawyers representing the music label had provided a video of the movie’s song and showed the video made by the Congress party featuring Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat Jodo Yatra as evidence to the court.

The lower court had passed an order on November 7 directing Twitter to provisionally block the Twitter handles of INC and Bharat Jodo Yatra due to the music copyright infringement case. However, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the counsel for the Congress party had approached the Karnataka HC earlier in November and gave an undertaking that the KGF-Chapter 2 songs would be removed from all the social media handles of the national party and a screen shot of this would be provided.

The Karnataka HC had set aside the lower court order based on the undertaking by the Congress counsel and asked them to provide proof of the same.

However, the Congress party failed to follow the Karnataka HC order forcing the music label to file a contempt case against INC, Jairam Ramesh, Rahul Gandhi and Supriya Shrinate. Further, the legal counsel for the music label claimed that Congress has not removed their client’s songs but had also used another song from the film to create another marketing video even after the HC’s order.

A contempt petition was filed in the Karnataka HC on November 28 and the case came up for hearing on December 2. The Chief Justice of Karnataka Prasanna Varale admitted the case and ordered a notice to be sent to the Congress leaders. The next hearing on the case has been scheduled for January 12, 2023.

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