Take down film for defaming actor, Bombay HC tells OTT platform

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MUMBAI: Observing that consent is at the heart of the matter, the Bombay high court has directed

streaming platform Amazon Prime

to immediately take down the

Telugu film

‘V’ until the producers delete the scene in which model-actress Sakshi Malik’s photograph had been used without her prior permission.
“Simply using another’s image, and most especially a

private image

, without consent is

prima facie

impermissible, unlawful and entirely illegal. In a given case, it may also be defamatory, depending on the type of use,” said Justice

Gautam Patel

on Tuesday. The order came on a defamation suit filed by Malik against the “utterly illicit use” of her photograph by Venkateshwara Creations Pvt Ltd and V Venkata Ramana Reddy aka Dil Raju in the film ‘V’ that was released on September 4, 2020, and since then was available on Amazon Prime. In August 2017, Malik had uploaded photos on her Instagram account and one of these pictures was used in the film in a reference to a “female escort or a commercial sex worker” and it was defamatory, argued her advocate Alankar Kirpekar.
The producers’ advocate, Akash Menon, said they had contracted an agency which had assured them they could legitimately use the image. But Justice Patel said her consent was necessary. “This is actually at the heart of the matter: Question of consent, or, more accurately, the damage done from the failure to obtain the plaintiff ’s consent and permission to use her image in any manner at all. The fact that the image has been illicitly used is bad enough. It only makes matters worse when used in a plain derogatory and demeaning vein,” the judge said.
Noting that the matter will need to be examined more closely, the judge directed that Amazon Prime take down the film in all versions, irrespective of language and subtitles until the producers delete all images of Malik. “It is not acceptable for them to merely pixelate or blur the images. The entire sequence which has the image of the plaintiff is to be removed immediately,” said Justice Patel, granting 24 hours to do so.
He also restrained the release of the film on any media platform until the deletions are affected. Amazon Prime will not release any reedited version of the film without HC order and the film will have to be shown to Malik before the judge permits its re-release, it added.

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