oppn parties Titles are not Subject to Copyright

News Snippets

  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
  • Shiv Sena not to attend the NDA meeting on 17th November, says break up "a formality"
  • Shiv Sena says that the confidence the BJP is showing about forming the government in Maharashtra is based purely on its expectation of getting numbers through horse trading
  • Anil Ambani resigns as director of the bankrupt Reliance Communications
  • India beat Bangladesh by an innings and 150 rums inside three days in the first Test. Indian pacers excel after Mayank Agarwal's double century
  • Sena-NCP-Congress work out a common minimum programme, will form the government soon and it will last 5 years, says Sharad Pawar
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal upholds the decision to withdraw the charitable status of Young India, making it liable to pay Rs 145 in income tax. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra are the majority shareholders in the company
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Titles are not Subject to Copyright

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, has closed one of the doors on people seeking to latch on to a successful project or product in whatever way they can. These people look for the smallest of openings to gatecrash and demand huge compensation or prosecution for imagined services rendered or dreamt up copyright infringement of their ‘work.’

In the case Krishika Lulla & Ors. Vs. Shyam Vithalrao Devkatta & Anr., Devkatta had filed a case against the producers of the Hindi film “Desi Boyz” because he contended that the title was lifted from the title of a story synopsis under the title “Desi Boys” he had sent to someone connected with the film makers. He wanted them prosecuted under the Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957 read with sections 34, 402 and 420 of the IPC. As the lower court admitted his plea and then the Bombay high court refused to quash the complaint, the accused moved the apex court for relief.

The apex court categorically stated that the protection under the Copyright Act did not extend to titles of any incomplete work and a title with a synopsis cannot be held to be a complete work. Copyright protection was available only to completed and original works that held some meaning. It also said that both the words “desi” and “boys” were common words not subject to copyright.

The court also took pains to point out that Devkatta was claiming copyright only for the title and not the body of the work. He claimed to have not seen the film and could not establish whether the story of the film was worked around the synopsis he claimed to have submitted. The court said that common words in any combination purporting to be the title of any synopsis cannot be claimed to be unique, original and having any literary meaning. Hence, the court refused to entertain his contention and quashed the case.

This judgment will serve as a warning to others who find film-makers easy prey since film release dates are decided well in advance and any case that could stall a film’s release can cause immense financial loss to the producer as the next release date might come after many months. This can make fortune hunters harass film-makers for the most specious of reasons. After this judgment, such cases could be quashed at the trial stage itself. Those film-makers who do not infringe upon copyright works will now breathe easier.