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Delhi HC Rejects Scriptwriters Plea for Injunction On Release of Film Lootcase On Netflix

Delhi HC Rejects Scriptwriters Plea for Injunction On Release of Film Lootcase On Netflix
An application was filed by the plaintiff Vijay Vats seeking a restrain from the release of the film ‘Lootcase” on Netflix. He claimed that the trailer of the Lootcase has substantial similarities with his script which he wrote in 2010-2011 for a film title “Tukkaa Fitt”.

He in his plaint said that the director of M/s. AAP Entertainment Limited approached him in 2011 for permission to utilize his script and make a motion picture. The film was completed in November 2012 and was about to release but the sudden demise of producer, the release of the film was halted he also asserted that the trailer of the film Tukkaa Fitt was released on YouTube and other public media platform in March 2018.

Ld. Counsel Mr. Mohit Aggarwal submitted that the trailer of the film Lootcase was released on 16th July 2020, but the plaintiff came to know of this fact on 18th July. He relied on the SC Judgment in R.G. Anand vs. M/s. Delux Films and also the judgment in MRF vs. Metro Tyres Ltd. and also the judgment of HC of Calcutta in Sh. Venkatesh Films Pvt. Ltd. vs. Vipul Amrit Lal Shah.

Ld. Senior Counsel Mr. Neeraj Kishan Kaul of defendants responded by submitting a document filed by the plaintiff which reveals that amount of Rs. 1,21,000/- was paid to the plaintiff. He also draws attention to the ‘Sec 61 of the Copyright Act, 1957’ which requires the producer of the film to be impleaded as the party. He relied upon the observation of Ld. Single Judge of the HC of Bombay in Dashrath D. Rathore vs. Fox Star Studios India. 

Rejecting the petitioner’s plea, the HC relied on the judgment of the SC in RG Anand vs. M/s Delux Films, 1978, which enumerates the principals to be borne in mind, while examining copyright claims in cinematographic and other such literary works.

The court after careful consideration of the various authorities and the case laws emerged following propositions: -

  1. There can be no copyright in an idea, subject matter, themes, plots, or historical or legendary facts, and violation of the copyright in such cases is confined to the form, manner and arrangement, and expression of the idea by the author of the copyrighted work.
  2. Where the same idea is being developed in a different manner, it is manifest that the source being common, similarities are bound to occur. In such a case the courts should determine whether or not the similarities are on fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyrighted work. If the defendant's work is nothing but a literal imitation of the copyrighted work with some variations here and there it would amount to a violation of the copyright. In other words, in order to be actionable, the copy must be a substantial and material one which at once leads to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of an act of piracy.
  3. One of the surest and the safest test to determine whether or not there has been a violation of copyright is to see if the reader, spectator or the viewer after having read or seen both the works is clearly of the opinion and gets an unmistakable impression that the subsequent work appears to be a copy of the original.
  4. Where the theme is the same but is presented and treated differently so that the subsequent work becomes a completely new work, no question of violation of copyright arises.
  5. Where however apart from the similarities appearing in the two works there are also material and broad dissimilarities which negative the intention to copy the original and the coincidences appearing in the two works are clearly incidental no infringement of the copyright comes into existence.
  6. As a violation of copyright amounts to an act of piracy it must be proved by clear and cogent evidence after applying the various tests laid down by the case-law discussed above.
  7. Where however the question is of the violation of the copyright of stage play by a film producer or a director the task of the plaintiff becomes more difficult to prove piracy. It is manifest that unlike a stage play a film has a much broader perspective, wider field, and a bigger background where the defendants can by introducing a variety of incidents give color and complexion different from the manner in which the copyrighted work has expressed the idea. Even so, if the viewer after seeing the film gets a totality of impression that the film is by and large a copy of the original play, violation of the copyright may be said to be proved. ‖
The court after discussing all the aspects held that there is no case whatsoever for grant of any interim injunction. The application of the plaintiff was dismissed.  


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