The Delhi High Court reiterated that there is no copyright in ideas and it can only be claimed in the expression of the ideas.

The court observed thus while it dismissed an application seeking an interim injunction against the defendants and all others acting on their behalf from making, producing, distributing, broadcasting, and communicating to the public, adapting, telecasting and exhibiting the impugned film titled “Shamshera”.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Jyoti Singh observed that, "the Plaintiff claims monopoly in period drama; father-son story where the two look alike; use of children, birds, hot oil, horse, underground tunnels and the plot based on son’s revenge and rebellion against foreign invasions, which is common to most Bollywood movies and agreeing with the Plaintiff would amount to granting monopoly over ideas."

Allowing the streaming and broadcasting of the movie "Shamshera" the Court observed that, "There can be no doubt that writers must be given their due. However, Plaintiff has been unable to make out a prima facie case of copyright infringement and thus no relief can be granted in favour of the Plaintiff injuncting the Defendants from continuing with the telecast of their film on the OTT Platforms."

Senior Advocate Chander M Lall, along with others, appeared for the plaintiff, while Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, along with others, appeared for the defendants.

It was contended that the film infringed the plaintiff’s copyright in his copyrighted script titled ‘Kabu na chhadein Khet’.

The Court observed that the plaintiff was unable to prove substantial copying of his work. In that context, it was said that, "Plaintiff is required to prove substantial copying of its work i.e. show that the substance or kernel of Plaintiff’s work is copied in order to succeed in his claim of copyright infringement. In the present case, by a comparison of the rival works, this Court is unable to reach a prima facie conclusion at this stage that Defendants have substantially copied the script of the Plaintiff to make the impugned film."

Relying on the case of R.G. Anand v. Delux Films and Others, the Court observed that the Supreme Court had clearly held that there is no copyright in ideas and copyright can only be claimed in the expression of the ideas as also that there must be a substantial similarity between the two rival works for the Plaintiff to claim copyright infringement.

With that background, it was held that, "the ideas in the script of the Plaintiff cannot be given copyright protection and more so in the stock elements. A comparison of the script and the impugned film does not leave an impression that one is a substantial copy of the other."

Subsequently, the application was dismissed.

Cause Title: Bikramjeet Singh Bhullar vs Yash Raj Films Private Limited & Ors.

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