EXCLUSIVE SERIES: THE LAWHIVE UPDATES – Developments in M&E and more, curated by Saveena Bedi Sachar

image-The Lawhive Updates - Saveena Bedi Sachar - LegalBrief from MediaBriefMediaBrief.com is delighted to announce its LegalBrief,
THE LAWHIVE UPDATES — a consolidated update of important news pertaining to legal matters across the Media & Entertainment, IP, Cyber Space and other related spaces, along with important notifications and more that should interest the readers of MediaBrief.com.  Curated and put together for the readers of MediaBrief.com by respected Advocate Saveena Bedi Sachar, Founder and Managing Partner of reputed legal firm, Lawhive Associates.

Adv. Saveena Bedi Sachar practices before the Supreme Court of India, Bombay High Court and several other courts, Forums and Tribunals including the Competition Commission of India, Consumer Courts, Company Law Board, NCLT and TDSAT and International Arbitrations across US and Europe. A BA, LLB having specialized in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) from the prestigious World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Switzerland, Saveena is one of the youngest co-authors of a book on Intellectual Property Rights, published by Butterworths, U.K.

Saveena has worked for several years heading the legal function in leading Indian and Multinational companies viz. Walt Disney, UTV, Star TV, INX Media (9X, 9XM and NewsX), AC Nielsen, Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) and Music Broadcast Private Limited (Radio City 91.1FM ).

Her law firm, Lawhive Associates, which she founded in 2012, is has today transitioned from a traditional-Media-and-Entertainment practice to a leading full-service law firm that handles civil and criminal matters including corporate advisory, international arbitrations, dispute resolution, bankruptcy and liquidation matters, family law, real estate, information technology and private client advisory.

Adv. Saveena Bedi Sachar also has a successful global litigation practice and has handled high-stake litigations before the Supreme Court of India, Bombay High Court and several other Courts, Forums and Tribunals including the Competition Commission of India, Consumer Courts, Company Law Board, NCLT and TDSAT and international arbitrations across US and Europe.

She will share these updates every week, exclusively for the professionals and readers on MediaBrief.com.

Keep in sync with the most important developments in the legal space, through LegalBrief’s THE LAWHIVE UPDATES put together for the readers of MediaBrief by thought-leading Advocate Saveena Sachar Bedi.


THE LAWHIVE UPATES: Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment

Supreme Court agrees to hear PIL seeking formation of autonomous body to regulate content on online streaming platforms

The body, of the petition suggests a Central Board for Regulation and Monitoring of Online Video Contents.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court recently agreed to consider a petition that seeks the setting up of a body to regulate online streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. (Source: BarAndBench.com)

Online Curated Content Industry Unveils “Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs” [15] Online Curated Content Providers [“OCCP”] are signatories to the customer-centric code New Delhi, 04 September 2020:

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) recently unveiled the Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs (“Code”).

The Code has been adopted by 15 leading Online Curated Content Providers in India. The present set of signatories include Zee5, Viacom 18, Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Flickstree.

The goal of this industry-wide effort is to empower consumers with information and tools to assist them in making informed choice with regard to viewing decisions for them and their families, while at the same time, nurturing creativity and providing creators the freedom to tell the finest stories.

By aiming to do what is best for both consumers and creators as guiding principles, the Code intends for India to be one of the most dynamic and fastest growing entertainment industries in the world. To give consumers more choice and control, the Universal Self-Regulation Code includes a framework for age classification and content descriptions for titles as well as access control tools.

The Code also introduces a clear, transparent and structured grievance redressal and escalation mechanism for reporting non-compliance with the prescribed guidelines. As a part of this mechanism, each OCCP will set-up a Consumer Complaints Department and/or an internal committee as well as advisory panel which will deal with complaints, appeals and escalations.

The advisory panel will constitute a minimum of three members, including an independent external advisor and two senior executives of the respective OCCP. Tarun Katial, Chair, Digital Entertainment Committee, IAMAI said, “The Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs is built around a shared belief that consumer empowerment and creative excellence are key to the long-term success of the Indian entertainment industry. With the Framework for Age Classification, Content Descriptions and parental controls in combination with a grievance redressal system, we’ve made it easier for consumers to make the right viewing decisions for themselves and their families.”

“The combination of empowering consumers and enabling creative excellence will help Online Curated Content Providers be at the forefront of taking the best stories from India to the world and bringing the finest stories from around the world to Indian consumers. Most of the major streaming services have adopted the Code and we look forward to others joining.” he added. The Code is effective from 15 August 2020 and allows OCCPs to comply with all the guidelines in a timebound manner. Each signatory to the code has agreed to appoint an external advisor as part of the grievance redressal mechanism. ( source: iamai.in)

PVR wins Entertainment Tax Case: Online booking charges on tickets not subjected to Entertainment Tax, rules the Hon’ble Madras High Court

The Hon’ble Madras High Court while dealing with the case filed by the PVR held that online booking charges on tickets not subjected to entertainment tax. The assessing officer took a note of the letter of the assessee, PVR that levy of Service Tax and Entertainment Tax on online ticket booking charges are mutually exclusive but as the assessee has not paid Service Tax for online ticket booking charges, therefore he is liable to pay Entertainment Tax on charges collected for online booking. However, the assessee has paid Service Tax under Finance Act, 1994 on such ‘online booking charge’ for the period from July 1, 2012.

The issue raised in the case was Whether the “online booking charges” charged by a Cinema Hall Owner besides the “cost of ticket” for entry into the cinema hall and enjoy the entertainment in the form of a movie, is a part of taxable receipt by the Cinema Owner for the purposes of the Tamil Nadu Entertainment Tax Act, 1939, is the question which arises for consideration in the present intra court appeals, filed against the order of the learned Single Judge.

The Single Judge was pleased to dismiss the Writ Petitions of the Cinema Owner, M/s.SPI Cinemas Pvt. Ltd., popularly known as ‘PVR Cinemas’, and hold that the entire price of the ticket when booked online through the Web Portal of the cinema owner by the customer would be exigible to the Entertainment Tax under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Entertainment Tax Act. The high court bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and M.S. Ramesh quashed the reassessment orders for all the years. The bench allowed the writ appeals filed by the assessee, PVR by setting aside the order of the single judge.

The court held that it is a separate service which is not uniformly charged for from all cine goers as mandatory payment for entertainment, and hence is not liable for imposition of entertainment tax. “The payment made for any other purpose connected with such entertainment will be taxable under the said Act, only if the person concerned is required to make such payment as a condition for entry,” the court said. (Source: Taxscan.in)

THE LAWHIVE UPATES: Cyber Security

Apple, Google, and a deal that could control the internet

When Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the chief executives of Apple and Google, were photographed eating dinner together in 2017 at an upscale Vietnamese restaurant called Tamarine, the picture set off a tabloid-worthy frenzy about the relationship between the two most powerful companies in Silicon Valley.

As the two men sipped red wine at a window table inside the restaurant in Palo Alto, their companies were in tense negotiations to renew one of the most lucrative business deals in history: an agreement to feature Google’s search engine as the preselected choice on Apple’s iPhone and other devices. The updated deal was worth billions of dollars to both companies and cemented their status at the top of the tech industry’s pecking order.

Now the partnership is in jeopardy because the Justice Department filed a landmark lawsuit against Google — the U.S. government’s biggest antitrust case in two decades — and homed in on the alliance as a prime example of what prosecutors say are the company’s illegal tactics to protect its monopoly and choke off competition in web search.

The scrutiny of the pact, which was first inked 15 years ago and has rarely been discussed by either company, has highlighted the special relationship between Silicon Valley’s two most valuable companies — an unlikely union of rivals that regulators say is unfairly preventing smaller companies from flourishing.

“We have this sort of strange term in Silicon Valley: co-optation,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel from 2009 to 2017. “You have brutal competition, but at the same time, you have necessary cooperation.”

Apple and Google are joined at the hip, even though Cook has said internet advertising, Google’s bread and butter, engages in “surveillance” of consumers and even though Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, once promised “thermonuclear war” on his Silicon Valley neighbour when he learned it was working on a rival to the iPhone.

Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, worth more than $3 trillion combined, do compete on plenty of fronts, like smartphones, digital maps and laptops. But they also know how to make nice when it suits their interests. And few deals have been nicer to both sides of the table than the iPhone search deal.

Nearly half of Google’s search traffic now comes from Apple devices, according to the Justice Department, and the prospect of losing the Apple deal has been described as a “code red” scenario inside the company. When iPhone users search on Google, they see the search ads that drive Google’s business. They can also find their way to other Google products, like YouTube.

A former Google executive, who asked not to be identified because he was not permitted to talk about the deal, said the prospect of losing Apple’s traffic was “terrifying” to the company.

The Justice Department, which is asking for a court injunction preventing Google from entering into deals like the one it made with Apple, argues that the arrangement has unfairly helped make Google, which handles 92% of the world’s internet searches, the center of consumers’ online lives.

Online businesses like Yelp and Expedia as well as companies ranging from noodle shops to news organizations often complain that Google’s search domination enables it to charge advertising fees when people simply look up their names, as well as to steer consumers toward its own products, like Google Maps. Microsoft, which had its own antitrust battle two decades ago, has told British regulators that if it were the default option on iPhones and iPads, it would make more advertising money for every search on its rival search engine, Bing.  (Source: https://ciso.economictimes)

THE LAWHIVE UPDATES: Taking Security Seriously  

With Covid 19 continuing to pave the way for a new remote working world, it is important that organizations continue to take security seriously. Having multiple people access a network from various locations is risky, so implementing strict multi factor authentication, data management and encryption are key to navigating this new era.

Massive ransomware attack hits PTI, services resume

New Delhi, Hackers recently broke into the servers of news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), crippling its service for hours before they were resumed.

According to news agency, “The computer servers suffered a massive ransomware attack, disrupting operations and the delivery of news to hundreds of subscribers across India for several hours before they were restored after an all-night effort by engineers.”

According to the said reports, no ransom was paid and the engineers worked through the night to restore the services by morning.
The ransomware was identified as LockBit that encrypted data and applications, crippling the news delivery to subscribers.
LockBit functions as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).
According to cyber security firm Kaspersky, LockBit ransomware is a malicious software designed to block user access to computer systems in exchange for a ransom payment.
LockBit will automatically vet for valuable targets, spread the infection, and encrypt all accessible computer systems on a network.

This ransomware is used for highly targeted attacks against enterprises and other organisations.

LockBit is a new ransomware attack in a long line of extortion cyberattacks.
Formerly known as “ABCD” ransomware, it has since grown into a unique threat within the scope of new extortion tools.
Attacks using LockBit originally began in September 2019, when it was dubbed the “.abcd virus.”

The moniker was in reference to the file an extension name used when encrypting a victim’s files.

“Notable past targets include organisations in the United States, China, India, Indonesia, Ukraine. Additionally, various countries throughout Europe (France, the UK, Germany) have seen attacks,” according to Kaspersky. (Source: ciso.economictimes)

Cyberattack on Dr Reddy’s Labs sharp reminder to strengthen digital infrastructure:

New Delhi, The cyberattack on Dr Reddy’s Labs came as a sharp reminder to strengthen its digital infrastructure and tighten cyber security control measures, according to analysts.

According to a report by HSBC, damage control and restoration of operations is crucial. It said Dr Reddy’s is a front runner among peers in terms of investing for digital transformation initiatives as well as for new age cyber securities technologies.

“Thus, the cyberattack came as a sharp reminder to strengthen its digital infrastructure and tighten cyber security control measures. While it expects no major operational impact, a quick update on damage control and restoration of operations will in our view be crucial to validate resilience of its systems,” the report added.

Dr Reddy’s faced a major data breach yesterday which triggered a shutdown of its key facilities. The company experienced data breaches in servers in the UK, the US, India, Brazil and Russia. Afterwards, the company released a statement which said that in the wake of a detected cyberattack, it had isolated all data centre services to implement preventative measures. Dr Reddy’s anticipates all services to be up within 24 hours and does not expect any major impact on operations due to the cyberattack.

Most of the Indian pharma manufacturers are increasingly focused on digitisation and process automation to improve operational efficiencies.

With increasing digitisation, data breaches and cyberattacks are common place, with the pharmaceuticals industry one of the sectors most impacted, after healthcare, energy and finance as per a study by Ponemon Institute (a Michigan-based research institute dedicated to data privacy, protection, and information security policy), and IBM Security.

For example, Merck faced a major cyberattack in June 2017 that led to disruption of its worldwide operations and sales losses of $260 million due to nonfulfillment of orders, and it incurred incremental costs (incl. remediation costs) of $285 million in 2017.

“The risk of cyberattacks on the pharma industry is further amplified by remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, pharma manufacturers (incl. DRRD) need to invest further and strengthen cyber security systems to avoid or minimise operational disruptions, high costs of control, and to contain damages and any potential lawsuits or regulatory penalties,” the report said. Source: ciso.economictimes

After Haldiram’s, now Mithaas hit by ransomware

Noida: Barely 10 days after snack manufacturer Haldiram’s was hit by ransomware, popular sweet seller Mithaas Sweets has claimed to have faced a similar attack on its servers by hackers who allegedly encrypted all its files and stole data.

According to Mithaas Sweets management, their server was attacked with ransomware between 3pm and 4 pm on August 22, in which they lost important data saved on the server over the past five years. In fact, the sweet maker said that a “ransomware” message flashed up on the screen on that day when they had tried to access their server and subsequently they were redirected to another recovery email and ID for getting access to data.

According to Sumit Choudhary, director (operations) for Mithaas Sweets, the hackers encrypted the entire data into a particular format, making it inaccessible for the company. “A pop-up window came up on the screen and a message flashed on the screen asking us to contact: email backdata@gbmail biz and ID: E4EB506E for data recovery,” he said, adding that rather than visiting the mentioned email, they preferred to contact cyber security software company Quick Heal.

“We were informed that there was no immediate solution for a cyber attack and it could take from three months to three years to recover the data. We were also advised not to visit the email provided to us on screen by the hackers,” Choudhary said.

Data pertaining to almost five-six years of repository, the sweet chain said, has been rendered useless to us. “It has not caused any financial loss so far but we have lost all data including reports, filing accounts, which have completely been wiped out,” he said.

Additional DCP (central Noida) Ankur Aggarwal, who also holds the charge of the cyber cell, told TOI that the companies need to annually continue with vulnerability and penetration testing to identify loopholes in the system by professionals. Source: ciso.economictimes

THE LAWHIVE UPDATES: COVID19 Special Notifications

Extension of due dates for Annual Return and Reconciliation Statement for 2018-19

In view of the Government receiving numerous representations relating to the need to extend due dates for filing an Annual Return (FORM GSTR-9) and Reconciliation Statement (FORM GSTR9C) for 2018-19 on account of the COVID-19 pandemic related lockdown and restrictions and on the grounds that, normal operation of businesses has still not been possible in several parts of the country, it had been requested that the due dates for the same be extended beyond 31st October 2020 to enable the businesses and auditors to comply in this regard.

In view of the same, on the recommendations of the GST Council, for the Financial Year 2018-19 from 31st October 2020 to 31st December, 2020 it has been decided to extend the due date for filing Annual Returns (FORM GSTR-9/GSTR-9A) and Reconciliation Statements (FORM GSTR-9C). Notifications to give effect to this decision would follow.

It may be noted that filing of an Annual Return (FORM GSTR-9/ GSTR-9A) for 2018-19 is optional for taxpayers who have an aggregate turnover below Rs. 2 Crore’s. The filing of reconciliation Statement in FORM 9C for 2018-19 is also optional for the taxpayers having aggregate turnover upto Rs.5 Crore’s.  Source: Press Information Bureau, 24 Oct 2020

Extension of due date of furnishing of Income Tax Returns and Audit Reports

Keeping in mind the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the statutory and regulatory compliances due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government brought the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 (‘the Ordinance’) on 31st March, 2020 which, inter alia, extended various time limits. The Ordinance has since been replaced by the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act.

The Government issued a Notification on 24th June, 2020 under the Ordinance which, inter alia, extended the due date for all Income Tax Returns for the FY 2019-20 (AY 2020-21) to 30th November, 2020. Accordingly, the returns of income which were required to be filed by 31st July, 2020 and 31st October, 2020 are required to be filed by 30th November, 2020. Consequently, the date for furnishing various audit reports including tax audit report under the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) has also been extended to 31st October, 2020. In order to provide more time to taxpayers for furnishing of Income Tax Returns, it has been decided to further extend the due date for furnishing of Income-Tax Returns as under:

(i) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the taxpayers (including their partners) who are required to get their accounts audited [for whom the due date (i.e. before the extension by the said notification) as per the Act is 31st October, 2020] has been extended to 31st January, 2021.

(ii) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the taxpayers who are required to furnish a report in respect of international/specified domestic transactions [for whom the due date (i.e. before the extension by the said notification) as per the Act is 30th November, 2020] has been extended to 31st January, 2021.

(iii) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the other taxpayers [for whom the due date (i.e. before the extension by the said notification) as per the Act was 31st July, 2020] has been extended to 31st December, 2020.

Consequently, the date for furnishing of various audit reports under the Act including tax audit report and report in respect of international/specified domestic transactions has also been extended to 31st December, 2020. Further, in order to provide relief to small and middle class taxpayers, the said notification dated 24th June, 2020 had also extended the due date for payment of self-assessment tax for the taxpayers whose self-assessment tax liability is up to Rs. 1 lakh. Accordingly, the due date for payment of self-assessment tax for the taxpayers who are not required to get their accounts audited was extended from 31st July, 2020 to 30th November, 2020 and for auditable cases, this due date was extended from 31st October, 2020 to 30th November, 2020.

In order to provide relief for the second time to small and middle class taxpayers in the matter of payment of self-assessment tax, the due date for payment of self-assessment tax date is hereby again being extended. Accordingly, the due date for payment of self-assessment tax for taxpayers whose self-assessment tax liability is up to Rs. 1 lakh has been extended to 31st January, 2021 for the taxpayers mentioned in para 3(A) and para 3(B) and to 31st December, 2020 for the taxpayers mentioned in para 3(C). The necessary notification in this regard shall be issued in due course.  (Source: Press Information Bureau, 24 Oct 2020)

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