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Court stops Debonair from publishing content owned by Playboy Inc

Debonair magazine has lost a copyright violation battle against Playboy Enterprises International Inc. over the use of photographs and work content.

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi |
May 10, 2009 12:58:11 am

Debonair magazine has lost a copyright violation battle against Playboy Enterprises International Inc. over the use of photographs and work content.

The magazine’s defence that it had bought visual content from private photographers for hefty sums failed to impress the Delhi High Court,which issued a permanent injunction against it publishing “photographs and other materials” that are the copyright of Playboy.

Playboy had moved court in 2006 against Debonair,seeking a “permanent injunction restraining it from reproducing,printing,publishing,selling and offering for sale in any manner photographs or any other works or publications carrying photographs of which Playboy Enterprises is the copyright owner”.

In response,Debonair came to court denying any copyright violation. “It is denied that photographs published in Debonair are photographs on which Playboy has the copyright,” they countered before the court. But they primarily contended that the photographs were supplied to them by “different photographers for valuable consideration”.

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To prove its point,Playboy went ahead and placed on record certain photographs to prove that identical ones had appeared in Debonair. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw,who deliberated on the case,recorded in his judgment recently that parties representing Debonair magazine “stopped appearing in court” soon after.

On September 10,2008,the court had decided to continue with the case after pronouncing an ex parte (absentee) stay against Debonair publishing the photographs.

In his final verdict,Justice Endlaw dismissed a plea by the magazine that it had no knowledge of Playboy’s copyright when content was being bought from photographers. “Debonair ought to satisfy themselves of the rights of the persons selling the photographs before paying for them. If they are lax in doing so,they ought to suffer for the same,” the bench observed. The court decided that Debonair had “no claim or right or authority to publish photographs over which Playboy has a copyright”.

“Even if Debonair paid for photographs on which Playboy has a copyright,this does not entitle it to infringe Playboy’s copyright,” the Bench observed.

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