In the IPR Laws, one gets to explore various laws on how one can present original work to someone in the entertainment industry. Several judgements were passed in the Indian laws where the court clarified the cases where the complainant’s suit can be quashed to represent the original work. In this post, a detailed analysis is provided of the Case of Mansoob Haider v Yash Raj Films which deals with the representation of the original work of someone.

The Facts of the Case

The Facts of the case were that there was a complainant who had wrote his script which is titled as ‘Once’ that was delivered to Yash Raj Films who were the defendants of the Case. After three years, Yash Raj films had released a film that was titled ‘Dhoom 3’ in Indian cinemas. As per the claim made by the plaintiff, the defendants of the case had infringed the copyright of the original work of the defendant when they released ‘Dhoom 3’ in the Indian cinemas which the plaintiff claimed was similar to his work. This made the plaintiff to file a suit in the court. His prayer was that the defendants of the case must be restrained from broadcasting their film on the television network.  

Factual Background of the Case

The Script of the plaintiff was registered with the copyright board on 17th February 2009 that was submitted by him in the early 2010. When ‘Dhoom 3’ was released in the Indian Cinemas in the year 2013, there were similarities between the plaintiff’s case and the defendant’s case. The defendant often denied meeting with the plaintiff whenever the plaintiff tried to meet the defendant. The plaintiff had sent a legal notice demanding the credit as the scriptwriter of the film and the cease of the distribution of the film. On 10the February 2014, the defendants replied by offering a settlement to the plaintiff and rejecting the claim made by him for the script of the film. This correspondence continued 2014 until 3rd March 2014, when the suit was filed against the defendants to seek damages from the court.

Issues raised in the Case

The issue raised in the Case was whether the Plaintiff would be entitled to damages for the presentation of the script of the film “Dhoom 3” and also, can there be a patent of an idea by the plaintiff. The other issue was about the similarities in the the plot of the film which was raised by the plaintiff after the release of his film ‘Dhoom 3’ in the Indian cinemas.

Applicable law in the Case

The Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957 was applicable in the case where it had mentioned about the term “original literary work” which means a work that the work which originates with the author. Here, the case was completely different because there were dissimilarities in the original work of Mansoob  Haider and the film released by Yash Raj Films titled as “Dhoom 3” in the Indian cinemas. No one has the right to replicate the original literary work of the author otherwise that would amount to the breach of copyright.

Application of the Precedent of the Case

The Court had referred to the judgement of RG Anand v M/s Delux Films which laid down the test to determine the infringement of the copyright. The tests are as follows:

  1. The theme of the work can be identical but the presentation of the case must be different otherwise if the presentation is similar then there would be a breach of copyright.
  2. The opinion of an ordinary man matters a lot because if an ordinary man can differentiate between the two works then there would be no breach of the copyright.
  3. Did the plaintiff have access to the work of the defendant?

The Ratio Decidendi of the case

There were some of the reasons that the Court had listed when it passed the judgment. These are as follows:

  • An idea cannot be copyrighted there can be a copyright of the intellectual property rights. There can be similarities between the themes but there cannot be similarities between the plots of the film as that would amount to a breach of copyright.
  • There were several dissimilarities that the court had found after comparing the scripts of Mansoob Haider’s “ONCE” and the script of “Dhoom 3”. In the script “ONCE”, there was enmity between the two sons but in Dhoom 3, there was dissimilarity because there was enmity shown between the brothers in the film. Instead, the revenge was extracted from the Bank by the brothers in the film. This is something that even a common man can easily tell after comparing the plot of the film and the plot of the script by the plaintiff.

Conclusion of the judgement

In conclusion, the judgement of Mansoob Haider v Yash Raj Films provided an idea about what kind of work would fall under the breach of copyright and also the relevancy of the tests laid down under the case of RG Anand v M/S Delux films.

Contributed by: Abhiraj Singh

Sushant University (2021-26)

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