Bombay High Court directs Amazon Prime Video to remove Telugu film ‘V’ from streaming after it uses Sakshi Malik’s image without permission


Bombay High Court has ordered Amazon Prime Video to take down Telugu film V within 24 hours for allegedly using actress Sakshi Malik’s photograph without her permission. Sakshi had filed a petition in court after finding her picture being illegally used in the film. She was seeking the removal of her photo as her advocate called it an invasion of privacy.

Sakshi, in her petition had alleged that the picture was lifted from her Instagram account after she posted it on the social media platform. The photo was clicked in August 2017. The film V, released directly on Amazon Prime Video in September 2020 and had used the picture in a sequence, in which Sakshi’s picture was allegedly used as a female escort or a commercial sex worker. V, which featured Nani, Sudheer Babu, Aditi Rao Hydari, and Nivetha Thomas in the lead roles, was released on Amazon Prime Video on September 5, 2020. The project later had a theatrical release on January 1, 2021. The movie, which is bankrolled by Dil Raju under the banner Venkateshwara Creations Pvt Ltd, had earned positive reviews from the audiences and critics.


A post shared by Sakshi Malik (@sakshimalikk)

RECOMMENDED READ: Supreme Court to hear Amazon Prime Video's India Originals Head Aparna Purohit's anticipatory bail plea in 'Tandav' case

Justice Gautam Patel rebuked the filmmaker’s defence and said, “This seems to be less than compelling. Surely any right-thinking motion picture producer would have insisted on seeing an approval or consent by the model or person who is featured or to be featured. It would a be standard procedure almost anywhere, and this would be true whether the issue is one of copyright in the photograph or of use with permission of an image of the model in question for a particular sequence. It seems to me self-evident that it is not possible to use the image of any person for a commercial purpose without written consent. If images are to be used without consent, they must be covered by some sort of legally enforceable and tenable licensing regime, whether with or without royalty. 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.”

The actress’ counsels, advocates Alankar Kirpekar and Saveena T Bedi told the court that this was a 'wholly unauthorised invasion of privacy and unauthorised use of private material.' The court also recognized the act as defamatory. However, the filmmakers said that they had contacted a commercial agency to procure a photograph to be used during the sequence and were assured that the photograph could be used without any legal hassle.

He further said, “The question of consent, or, more accurately, the damage done from the failure to obtain the plaintiff's (Malik's) consent and permission to use her photograph and 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 plainly derogatory and demeaning vein.”

The court ordered Amazon Prime Video to ‘take down the film in all versions, irrespective of language and sub-titles, until such time as the 1st and 2nd Defendants (filmmakers) have completely deleted all images of the Plaintiff (Malik) from their work.’ It also noted that merely pixelating or blurring the image will not be acceptable. The case has been scheduled for a further hearing on March 8, 2021.

(Source: India Today/Bar and Bench/Twitter)