We have some good news for fans of Indian YouTube star Shraddha Sharma – she has won the court case against MCN Culture Machine. A copy of the order obtained by Lighthouse Insights (LI) states that Bombay City Civil Court, Borivali Division, has directed Culture Machine Media Private Limited, Shraddha Sharma’s ex-channel managers, to handover the administrative control of her YouTube channel ‘Shraddharockin’ to her.
The decision came a few days ago and also states that no restraint can be put on Shraddha on entering into any new agreement with any third party in respect of her channel on YouTube. In other words Shraddha is now free to work with any other MCN of her choice. In fact LI has been informed that she has already signed up with Qyuki – an artist focused network.
Culture Machine Media V/s. Shraddha Sharma case
LI had earlier reported about the case in the month of September when we had come across a Facebook update from Shraddha that featured a video where she had asked her fans for their support in this new fight. (The video and Facebook post were subsequently deleted.) Shraddha had shared that her MCN Culture Machine had knocked the doors of the court, since she wasn’t renewing her contract with them. Additionally the company had also taken over Shraddha’s YouTube channel that had 160K+ subscribers. In fact this was the same YouTube channel that made Shraddha a YouTube star.
Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO at Culture Machine, at that point of time, had emphasized that she had breached the contract and hence the court move. “We have a signed contract with Shraddha which she has breached. We have acted well within our rights and it’s up to the courts to decide the outcome. Our intention isn’t to malign any artist, given that they form the bed rock of our business, but to ensure the integrity of our contractual obligations are maintained.”
However, the claims and the case by Culture Machine has been dismissed by the Civil Court.
The judgement was based on facts that Culture Machine cannot enforce certain clauses of the said agreement since the same are regarding personal services. Moreover, since term of said agreement for promotion and popularization of her YouTube channel (August 3, 2012 to August 2, 2014) is already completed, no restraint can be put on her for entering into a new agreement with another MCN for managing her YouTube channel. In fact Shraddha had communicated that she wouldn’t be renewing the said contract on June 23, 2014.
Percept D’Markr (India) Pvt.Ltd V/s. Zaheer Khan and Anr case
The present case mirrors that of 2006 Percept D’Markr (India) Pvt.Ltd V/s. Zaheer Khan and Anr case. Supreme Court had given the go ahead to Zaheer to sign up Adidas after an appeal filed by celebrity management firm Percept D’Mark (India) Pvt Ltd against a Bombay High Court judgement, which allowed the cricketer’s plea that he did not wish to renew his contract with the firm.
Zaheer had signed a contract with the company in the year 2000 for a period of three years with the contract ending in October 2003. In July 2003 the company sent him a draft agreement for extending the contract for another five years. Zaheer turned it down saying he was not interested. Percept D’Mark then filed a case in Bombay High Court on the grounds that Zaheer had been paid huge amounts of guarantee money every year under the contract and asked for an injunction on his signing a contract with a third party before fulfilling his obligations under their agreement. The company had also asked Zaheer to provide all the details of any contract he intended to sign with a third party and demanded that it get the first opportunity to offer the contract.
The SC bench ruled out the case but it however gave the liberty to Percept D’Mark to proceed against Zaheer for breach of contractual terms. In Shraddha’s case as the agreement period is over, Culture Machine cannot even proceed on contractual breach case, let alone own the singer’s YouTube channel.
However, LI has been told that Culture Machine has not handed over the channel management to Shraddha and the company might take the case to Bombay High Court. LI has approached Culture Machine on the case but we are yet to hear from the company.
It is tough to bring a synergy between the right and left brains but this is a landmark judgement at a time when YouTube celebrities are growing in numbers and business are trying to tap them early on. The case will set things clear from here on how YouTubers and their channel managers work together; even agreement clauses would be re-looked at.