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Case Comment On Topic Of RG Anand v/s Deluxe Films

This was one of the landmark decision in history of copyright in India. It clearly lays out what all leads to an infringement in copyright and what all not leads to. This was the case between two parties named R.G Anand v/s M/S Deluxe Films. So here the plaintiff was the play writer and producer of plays, so once he wrote the play named "HUM HINDUSTANI" which got very famous and it was being played many times.

Due to increase in popularity the plaintiff thought to make a film out of the play, having that thought in mind he approached the respondent who was the film producer who was making films, so they both had an intense discussion about making of that play into film, while nodding the respondent does not give any commitment and went through.

After two years the respondent made a film named New Delhi so the respondent while watching a movie seems like respondent has just simply the idea of play into his movie which he had discussed about. So therefore the plaintiff went ahead and sue the respondent. So this case talks about whether this leads to a copyright infringement or not.

This case deals about what is called as copyrights that relates to one of aspects of intellectual property rights. Copyright as the name suggest, it's the way of protecting one authors original work by way of copyrighting it, now what if anyone uses that as for its own uses and started to derive it benefits from it, then it would lead to copyright infringement, now copyright infringement can be held in many ways.

Now regarding the case as of the renowned case of copyright infringement is mentioned as above is R.G Anand Vs M/S Deluxe Films & Ors. Now in this case Supreme Court Of Inida points out an excellent way of finding out what will lead to copyright and what will be not in cases of ideas being exchanged and copied.

Now at that in time in India there was no relevant law as regards to particular aspect according to which we are dealing with, there the Supreme Court Of India also looked at international law regarding the copyright.

Author Horace G Ball in his book The Law of Copyright and Literary Property states that,-In an action for the alleged infringement of the copyright of a play by a motion picture, wherein it appeared that both authors had used life in a boys' reform school as a background, but the only similarity between the two productions consisted to a few incidents and points in dialogue, such as one would expect to find in stories set against the same background, there was no infringement of copyright't[2]

Facts Of The Case:
  • The plaintiff known by the name RG Anand he was the person who was the producer, and play writer. He used to write many books and plays. One of the play he wrote amongst them was Hum Hindustani in year 1953. So this play was one of the hit play amongst all of his plays, once it got performed it was getting performed in subsequent years and because of that popularity there came idea in mind of RG Anand that why not to make a film based on the play.
  • So while laying this idea in his mind he started to lookout for some film producer which would help him in converting that play into movie, there he met the respondent M/S Deluxe Films known by the name Mohan Sehgal. So they both had a talk about the converting the idea of making the play into film. The plaintiff RG Anand  let out his idea of play to the respondent. After having a lot of discussion regarding the same, respondent said we look at this matter in near future, without giving any commitment to the plaintiff.
  • Years passed by no confirmation was being made, but out of sudden the respondent came out of movie named NEW DELHI that was in the year of 1956.
  • So while looking at the movie plaintiff saw that the respondent has just copied the idea of his play of what he had originally published. So in this way the plaintiff took out the matter and let the way to court to sue the respondent.
So this were some brief facts about the case.

Issues Raised In The Case:
  • Whether the respondent has copied the idea of plaintiff by taking the play Hum Hindustani and made the film New Delhi ?
  • Whether the respondent has infringed the right of the plaintiff by making the film? [3]

Questions Raised By The Plaintiff:
The learned counsel of plaintiff said that this was clearly a breach of copyright and trial court did not look at the provision of the laws clearly complied with as well in looking at the aspect of international laws as well, looking at the countries laws for USA and UK. It has also mentioned out the film was more or less based on the same idea on which the play was laying out the same story line and the same place and area on which play was based, as discussed in play about the region of Punjab and madras, girl being found of singing revolving around the same story line. It was clearly an infringement in part of respondent that he made the film even without letting the permission from the plaintiff.[4]

Questions Raised By The Respondent:
The learned council of respondent said that there were almost no similarities between the play and the film which my client made. So the lower court was being very right by taking out the judgement. There was no infringement as claimed by the plaintiff in this suit.[5]

Provision Used In The Case:

Section 2 Of The Copyright Act 1911

Says that ground in which there can be held that there was an infringement of copyright.

Section 1(2)(D) Of The Copyright Act 1911

For the purposes of this Act, "copyright" means the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever, to perform, or in the case of a lecture to deliver, the work or any substantial part thereof in public; if the work is unpublished, to publish the work or any substantial part thereof

(d) in the case of a literary, dramatic, or musical work, to make any record, perforated roll, cinematograph film, or other contrivance by means of which the work may be mechanically performed or delivered.[6]

Supreme Court Of India while laying out the judgement said two important points which would help to anyalse that there is infringement or not:
  1. It laid out that there could be only expression of idea that would be copyrighted mere abstraction of the idea would not be copyrighted.
  2. It also introduces concept of point of similarities and point of dissimilarities.

Explaining out the point 1 as follows it says out that, just as you have an idea and on that idea you make that film and you when a film is made come out and say that there is infringement of my idea that would not be counted as an infringement.

Explaining out the point 2 as follows whenever there is a copyright case saying about the concern about same work been copied then there would be an concept which lays down points of similarities and dissimilarities if points of similarities are more than copyright would be granted and if points of dissimilarities are more than it would said as copyright not granted.

So here in the case court found that there was less similarity so copyright was not granted.

Court also came out with the saying that the there would be no copyright in case of idea, subject matter, themes, plots and historical and legendary facts.

Obiter Dicta:

Justice Pathak: Said that the if anyone who is trying to copy the idea of something which is already being done then he will surely make some addition and subtraction which would not amount that to copyright. He also added if the facts of the cases were to be open in front of this court then my opinion would be different as the same lower court and high court have not led this with infringement I will also stand with the same .

Justice Fazal Ali:
It also added saying that the onus of proof is on the plaintiff that there was a copyright or not, when a person making movie out of the play definitely it would cover more areas and more scope, but then also after watching both the show it leads out the same there would be copyright infringement.[7]

Ratio Decendi:
  • The court held out there would be no copyright in cases of ideas, subject matter, themes, plots, historical and legendary facts.
  • And the same it laid down the points of similarities and dissimilarities.[8]

It was one of the landmark decision in field of copyright which till now holds good place, now also these case been referred in many instances while founding out at there is any infringement in case of same work being copied and as it laid down point of similarities and dissimilarities and also it laid down how only expressive idea will be copyrighted.

This case was also being referred by the Bombay High Court in Mansoon Haider Vs Yashraj Films. This case was first in India to let out what will lead to copyright and what will not.

Comparative Analysis Of Copyright Between India And USA:

As defined copyright is the work which is legally available to a person or an entity who is sole creator that work.

As defined in USA:
"Copyright law in the U.S. is governed by federal statute, namely the Copyright Act of 1976. The Copyright Act prevents the unauthorized copying of a work of authorship. However, only the copying of the work is prohibited--anyone may copy the ideas contained within a work."[9]

As defined in INDIA:
"Subject to the provisions of this section and the other provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist throughout India in the following classes of works, that is to say,:
  1. original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  2. cinematograph films; and
  3. sound recording.[10]
One of the following main difference which persist between USA and India is that relating to copyright is that, in India copyright registration is not compulsory but as compared to USA its compulsory to register a copyright.


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