File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Copyright Infringement and the Protection of Ideas in Intellectual Property Law

The intersection of mythology and intellectual property law presents a complex legal landscape. This is particularly evident in the case of Pocket FM Private Limited v. Disney+Hotstar, where the plaintiff, Pocket FM, claimed copyright infringement over a character and storyline that are deeply rooted in ancient mythology. The dismissal of the plaintiff's application for an interim injunction by the court provides significant insights into the nuances of copyright law, particularly concerning the protection of ideas versus the expression of those ideas.

Background of the Case:
Pocket FM, an online platform offering audio series and audiobooks, had entered into an agreement with Mr. Anand Usha Borkar on July 18, 2023, securing exclusive rights to his literary work titled "Yakshini." The plaintiff adapted and published this work as an audio series on their platform, launching it officially on May 30, 2021.

In early June 2024, Pocket FM's representatives discovered a trailer for a television series titled "Yakshini" on Disney+Hotstar's YouTube channel. Believing that this series was an unauthorized adaptation of their audio series, Pocket FM sought an interim injunction against Disney+Hotstar to prevent the broadcast of the television series.

Defendant's Arguments:
Disney+Hotstar resisted the injunction, arguing that "Yakshini" is a mythological character with extensive historical and cultural references. They pointed to the character's presence in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and other traditions, supported by references from sources like Wikipedia. The defendant contended that their television series did not derive its idea from Pocket FM's audio series but from the abundant existing literature about the character.

Court's Analysis and Decision:
The court dismissed the application for an interim injunction, highlighting the following key points:

Ideas vs. Expression of Ideas:
"The court emphasized the fundamental principle of copyright law that protects the expression of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. While Pocket FM's audio series may have been an original adaptation, the underlying idea of "Yakshini" as a mythological character was not protectable under copyright law."

Historical and Cultural Roots:
The court noted that "Yakshini" is a character with deep roots in various mythological traditions. Given its historical and cultural significance, it is not exclusive to any single author or creator. The character's existence in ancient texts and its depiction across different cultures precludes any single entity from claiming exclusive rights over it.

Lack of Prima Facie Evidence of Copyright Infringement:
The court found no prima facie evidence to support the claim that Disney+Hotstar had infringed upon the copyright-protected expression of Pocket FM's audio series. The similarities cited by Pocket FM, such as the character of Yakshini, the presence of an Aghori, and certain scenario descriptions, were not sufficient to establish copyright infringement. These elements were considered too general and rooted in mythology, rather than unique expressions of the plaintiff's work.

Legal Implications and Analysis:
The decision in this case underscores several important aspects of copyright law:

Distinction Between Idea and Expression:
The ruling reaffirms the essential distinction between an idea and its expression. While the idea of a character like Yakshini cannot be copyrighted, a specific portrayal or narrative involving the character can be protected. However, proving infringement requires demonstrating substantial similarity in the expressive elements, not just the general idea.

Public Domain and Mythological Characters:
Characters that are part of the public domain, particularly those rooted in mythology and folklore, pose unique challenges in copyright protection. The court's decision reflects the difficulty in claiming exclusive rights over such characters, given their widespread historical and cultural usage.

Burden of Proof in Copyright Infringement:
The case highlights the burden of proof required in copyright infringement cases. Plaintiffs must provide clear evidence showing that the defendant's work is substantially similar to the protected elements of their original work. General similarities in themes or characters are insufficient without concrete proof of copying the specific expression.

The case of Pocket FM Private Limited v. Disney+Hotstar serves as a critical reminder of the limitations of copyright protection when it comes to ideas and mythological characters. While creators can protect their unique expressions and adaptations, they cannot monopolize characters or concepts that are part of the cultural and historical fabric shared by humanity. This decision reinforces the balance that copyright law seeks to maintain between protecting original works and ensuring the free flow of ideas and cultural heritage.

Case Citation: Pocket FM Pvt. Ltd. Vs Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd: 13.06.2024: CS (COMM) 524 of 2024 : 2024:DHC:4752: Delhi High Court: Neena Bansal Krishna 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

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly