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There Can Not Be Copyright Infringement If Similar Theme Presented Differently

The crux of the legal dispute revolves around the alleged infringement of the Plaintiff's copyrighted script titled 'Kabu na chhadein Khet' by the Defendant's movie, 'Shamshera'. The central issue is whether the latter amounts to a substantial reproduction of the former, thereby violating the Plaintiff's copyright.

Legal Principles Established:
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, in its evaluation, leaned on established legal principles laid down by the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court's stance underscores that mere ideas, principles, themes, or historical/legendary facts, being part of the public domain, cannot be monopolized by any individual for copyright protection.

The Court has recognized the inherent right of any creator to choose an idea and present it uniquely, ensuring that similarities arising from a common theme do not necessarily denote infringement.

The Supreme Court's test for copyright infringement emphasizes the perception of the audience. Specifically, if a viewer, reader, or spectator concludes that one work is a mere replica of another upon analyzing both, it suggests a violation. The critical question is whether the subsequent work imitates the original to such an extent that the essence or core of the original is palpably evident.

Application to the Present Case:
Upon contrasting the Plaintiff's script, 'Kabu na chhadein Khet', with the Defendant's movie, 'Shamshera', the Delhi High Court observed discernible differences that overshadowed the purported similarities. The court highlighted that while there might be overlapping themes or elements, these resemblances were not sufficiently pronounced to hint at copyright infringement.

The essence of the court's decision rested on the concept of 'substantial copying.' To establish copyright infringement, the Plaintiff must demonstrate that the heart or crux of their work has been replicated in the defendant's creation. In the present scenario, despite a meticulous comparison, the court did not discern a clear and prima facie case indicating that the Defendants had emulated the essential elements of the Plaintiff's script.

The Concluding Note:
In essence, while the realm of copyright law seeks to protect creators from unjust appropriation of their original works, it also recognizes the inherent freedom of creators to explore common themes and ideas uniquely.

In the matter of 'Kabu na chhadein Khet' vs. 'Shamshera', the court, drawing from established legal precedents, concluded that the alleged similarities did not equate to substantial copying. Consequently, the interim injunction sought by the Plaintiff was declined.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Bikramjeet Singh Bhullar Vs Yash Raj Films Private Ltd.
Date of Judgement/Order:20.12.2023
Case No. CS Comm 878 of 2023
Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:9198
Name of Hon'ble Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Jyoti Singh, H.J.

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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