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Hoichoi parent SVF obtains court order to pull 2012 film from Zee5

Media company SVF, which owns the streaming service Hoichoi, obtained a court order against Zee5 to pull a 2012 film it produced from the streaming service’s catalogue. In a statement, SVF said that Zee5 didn’t hold the rights to the film, Chitrangada, and was streaming it without a license. “The Honorable Judge was pleased to observe that streaming of the film by Zee was without right and would cause business losses and damages and that balance of convenience was in favor of SVF Entertainment,” the company said in a statement. A Zee5 spokesperson had no immediate comment to offer; we will update this post if they send a response. The film is no longer streaming on Zee5.

SVF is also suing for ₹1 crore in damages from Zee5, according to a copy of the Alipore Court’s order. According to the order, Zee5’s rights to the film expired in August 2018. “It would appear that [a] conversation was going on through Whatsapp in which, the Respondent Company [Zee5] requested the Petitioner [SVF] to waive off the cost of “Chitrangada” due to the relationship between the parties,” the order noted. This is an interim injunction, and further hearings will take place after Zee responds.

This kind of snafu — where a streaming service leaves up content for which its rights have expired  — isn’t unprecedented, but it’s interesting that a Zee5 representative seems to have effectively admitted that they didn’t have the rights to the content, and on top of it, asked SVF to overlook the mistake. Netflix was supposed to release the film Hotel Mumbai, based on the 26/11 terror attacks, in South Asia last year; but the company faced a lawsuit from a Dubai-based firm at the Bombay High Court, and reportedly cancelled plans to release the film here. Rights to Hotel Mumbai were later snapped up by Zee5, and Netflix only streams it in South Korea.

This is the sixth instance of Zee5 being forced to remove or alter content in 2020. Earlier this month, the streaming service briefly took down the Pakistani show Churails from its service in Pakistan.

SVF’s full statement

Court restrains Zee5 from streaming Rituparno Ghosh’s national award winning film – “Chitrangada”

The Alipore Court on Tuesday passed an ad-interim order restraining the video streaming service Zee5 including its mobile application and website zee5.com and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited in general from any publication, broadcast and distribution of Rituparno Ghosh’s national award-winning film “Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish” in any form and in any media.

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Upon discovering that the film was being published by Zee on its OTT platform Zee5 in the absence of any license or grant of rights, SVF Entertainment, the owner and producer of the film approached Alipore Court on Tuesday seeking necessary relief and damages.

The Honorable Judge was pleased to observe that streaming of the film by Zee was without right and would cause business losses and damages and that balance of convenience was in favor of SVF Entertainment.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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