T-Series vs. Dreamline Reality Movies

Punjab & Haryana High Court

According to a recent ruling by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a person cannot claim a copyright violation for facts and events from their own life unless they have already completed or developed a work that depicts their life story. Therefore, the only way for someone to establish a copyright violation over a life story is if they have already completed a work—a book or other literary production—and the work that is being copied is based on that already completed work.

Judge Rajbir Sehrawat noted that no infringement allegation could be made because copyright or replicating the work cannot be discussed until it is present.

The bench ruled that the mere existence of specific facts indicating human behaviour or a series of events indicating human behaviour cannot be converted into a subject matter over which someone can bring a copyright claim.

It further said that an idea, fact, or collection of facts alone, devoid of human skill, intelligence, or effort to transform them into a work, cannot be referred to as a “work” for the purposes of the Copyright Act.

While considering an appeal submitted by a record label and a film production company, the Court issued the following findings: T-Series in relation to the movie ‘Dear Jassi’, which is inspired by the murder of Indo-Canadian woman Jaswinder Kaur, alias Jassi Sidhu, in 2000.

A civil court had last year ordered T-Series to hold off on filming and distribution of the picture until Dreamline Reality Movies, a Punjab-based company, received a final ruling in their lawsuit.

The claim made by Dreamline was that it had acquired the film rights from Sukhwinder Singh @ Mithu, Jassi Sidhu’s husband.

T-Series filed a motion with the High Court to overturn the temporary order. They claimed that the film was produced after acquiring the film’s production rights based on a book authored by investigative journalist Fabian Dawson.

In response, Dreamline Reality Movies made the argument that Singh’s life story should also be considered because he is Jassi Sidhu’s spouse. Thus, it was said, that T-Series could not have produced the film without his approval. 

The High Court ruled that although Singh may be entitled to certain protections under other laws and for different purposes, his life story cannot be the subject of copyright.

It was mentioned that Singh hasn’t written any books, articles, or other works based on his life narrative. As a result, the court found that he lacked the authority to grant Dreamline Reality Movies any copyright.

However, the Court determined that T-Series had acquired the appropriate rights to make the film based on an existing book that incorporates the story of Jassi Sidhu and, incidentally, the life story of Singh.

As such, the appellants have a legal right to make a film on the said book,” Justice Sehrawat said.

The Court further noted that Jassi Sidhu’s “honour killing” and her family’s rejection of her marriage were documented in Canadian court records about both the extradition and trial court procedures in Indian courts.

It also mentioned that articles in the media and on social media had touched on this element of her murder.

The Court stated that Singh cannot rightfully assert any copyright on the love tale and the ensuing murder for the same reason.

The Court also discovered that the district court’s request sought to stop T-Series from producing a movie based on Jassi Sidhu’s life narrative rather than Singh’s.

According to the Court in this particular case, Jassi Sidhu had left no published or unpublished literary works over which a legitimate heir could have asserted a copyright. 

privacy rights?

The Court also took Singh’s right to privacy into consideration. The Court stated that the right to privacy is not an unalienable right, as the Supreme Court has made clear. 

Regarding a related claim that Singh had sold Dreamline Reality Movies the right to commercially exploit his privacy, the Court stated that this argument removed the matter outside the scope of the Copyright Act.

It was noted that the only individual who can assert such a right to sell privacy for profit is one who asserts they have obtained celebrity status, a unique personality, and economic goodwill. This type of claim is known as a “celebrity right” or “publicity right.”

The Court concluded that neither in this particular case had Singh claimed any celebrity status nor was such an assertion made by Dreamline Reality Movies. 

In the end, the court determined that there was not a solid basis for the civil court to grant the temporary injunction.

It further reasoned that since the picture will generate revenue, it cannot be claimed that Dreamline Reality Movies would irrevocably lose out if the film’s distribution is unrestricted.

As a result, the Court granted T-Series’ appeal and overturned the district court’s interim order.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.


The following disclaimer governs the use of this website (“Website”) and the services provided by the Law offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates in accordance with the laws of India. By accessing or using this Website, you acknowledge and agree to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.

The information provided on this Website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or relied upon as such. The content of this Website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Firm. Any reliance on the information provided on this Website is done at your own risk.

The Law Firm makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information contained on this Website.

The Law Firm disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this Website or for any actions taken in reliance on the information provided herein. The information contained in this website, should not be construed as an act of solicitation of work or advertisement in any manner.