Copyright infringement in remake films in India



Share on:

In the movie industry, there has been a recent trend of remakes of old or successful films. A remake may be a film that's supported the identical tale because the original, but with modernization or updating features, as critical a sequel (such as a Spiderman or Lethal Weapon chapter), which places the identical characters in an exceedingly different plot. Remaking a movie usually necessitates obtaining a license from the initial film’s copyright holder. Remakes are sometimes created by taking ‘inspiration’ from or ‘adapting’ the first film. The copyright holder doesn't should grant a license for such remakes. It’s important to understand the difference between drawing inspiration from or adapting an explicit work and making a right away copy of it.

It is currently a well-established principle of holding law that one can only hold a copyright on the expression of an idea, not on the concept itself (the actual film made up of the idea). Specific provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 (hereinafter spoken because the ‘Act’) must be examined so as to understand the notion.

What does the Copyright law say about film remakes?

A movie is assessed as a “cinematograph film,” and also the term “author” refers to the motion picture’s producer. The term “copyright” is defined in Section 14 of the Act because the owner’s perquisite to adapt a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work. additionally, section 51 of the Act states that a copyrighted work is infringed if a personal does something to which the owner of the copyright has been granted exclusive rights without first obtaining a license from that owner. However, the connotations of the term “copy” are covered by the phrase “adaptation” within the case of a cinematograph film, giving the owner of the copyright in a very cinematograph film (i.e., the motion picture’s producer) the only real right to create a replica of the film.

As a result, the copyright holder has the right to remake a film supported a fundamentally similar narrative, albeit with modernization or updating features. Of course, the proper to create a remake is assigned and/or licensed; otherwise, manufacturing a remake without permission from the producer may be a copyright violation of the first work. The degree of intentional resemblance between the 2 works would be the criterion for determining whether a movie could be a remake or not. The Indian Copyright Act, 1957, unlike many other nations’ copyright laws, particularly in Europe and therefore the us, doesn't include the word “derivative work.” The new work developed as a results of a “adaptation” of the first work, on the opposite hand, is interpreted as add India, which can equate to the term “derived work” as defined in other jurisdictions.

According to Indian law, when an owner offers a 3rd party a license to remake a cinematograph film, the licensee creates new work, and therefore the copyright to it new work is transferred to the licensee unless there's a contract to the contrary. If the first work’s owner wishes to retain ownership of the copyright within the remake, the licensee must convey these rights to the initial owner through an express contract. it's a piece of joint authorship when a piece is made by the collaboration of two or more authors, and one author’s contribution isn't distinguishable from the contribution of the opposite author or authors.

If the first owner and therefore the licensee collaborate to form a brand new work employing a common design within the event of a remake, they'll be considered joint authors and/or co-producers of the new work. With this difficulties surrounding the remakes of assorted films, it's only a matter of your time until obtaining suitable licenses for the assembly of a remake becomes commonplace.

Ambiguity regarding who is that the rightful owner

The right to remodel a cinematography film doesn't appear to be a precise right. it's to be read in light of existing rights, possibly Section 14(d)(i) of the Act, because it seems closer to remake than other rights). As a result, it’s unclear who can own the rights to a movie remake: a producer, a screenwriter, a director, or anyone else who owns the rights to the film. When the variation rights of literary authors in a very movie (script, plot, and dialogue writers) are examined, the doubt grows even more, because a remake of a movie is more of an adaptation of the underlying literary works than a reproduction of the first movie.

Judicial Standings

In MRF limited v. Metro Tyres Limited (2017), Despite the actual fact that the word “original” isn't specifically stated before the word cinematograph film in Section 13(1)(b) of the Indian Act [1957], the court held that it's nevertheless a necessity under sub-section (3). (a). When section 13 of the Act is read in conjunction with the definitions of “cinematograph film” and “author” found in clauses (f) and (d) of section 2 of the Copyright Act, it becomes evident. The court explained that the wording “to make a replica of the film” in Section 14(d)(i) of the Act, doesn't merely mean making a physical copy of the image via duplicating. Furthermore, the court decided that the R.G. criteria applied to film further. Because the extent of protection for the film is that the same as that for the other original work, Anand’s case would apply.

Similarly, the Delhi High Court in the case Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd v. Sri Sai Ganesh Productions & Ors. (2019) the lawsuit concerns a cinema known as “Band Baja Barat.” In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the storyline, plot, and presentation of the theme in the original film were all completely plagiarized. It was claimed that the idea, concept, storyline, character sketches, story, script, form expression, and other aspects of the works had been duplicated and that there were significant similarities between the works. Copyright infringement is the result of such obvious copying. Plaintiff contended that individuals who have viewed both films will get the distinct sense that the defendant’s work is a carbon copy of the plaintiff’s work. As a result, the requirements of R.G. Anand’s test for determining infringement are met. The defendants had infringed on the plaintiff’s copyright in the film, according to the Delhi High Court.

The following implies that remakes are covered under section 14(d)(i) of the Act, and the existing condition of film protection favors film producers because even remakes of films (if the film is original) cannot be made without the producer’s permission. Although no aspect of the original recording is duplicated in remakes.

In the case of Thiagarajan Kumararaja v. Capital Film Works (India) Pvt. Ltd., (2017) a dispute between the writer-director and the producer of the film “AaranyaKaandam” resulted in the court ruling. In the issue at hand, the producer had only been granted a limited license to utilize the script in a single film. The Supreme Court ruled that if the writer owns the copyright to the script, the producer cannot hold the remake rights. It stated:

“A remake of the film or its versions which are substantially similar to the original cinematograph film cannot come within the ambit of the right to copy a film, which is provided for under Section 14(d)(i) of the 1957 Act. In our opinion, while the right to copy a film includes the right to replicate the said film, it, however, does not include the right to remake or to make different versions of the same film.”

The Madras High Court recently ruled in favor of the film’s producer in the matter of S.J.Suryah (a.k.a. S.JustinSelvaraj) v. S.S.Chakravarthy and ors. (2021), The Hon’ble Court stated that in the case of films, particularly cinematographic films, the first owner of the copyright is the producer, citing Section 17 of the Copyright Act, 1957, which deals with the ‘First Owner of Copyright.’ The producer has the remake rights under the work for hire agreement under Section 14(1)d of the Copyright Act, in addition to the copyright, and nothing prevents him from doing a remake. Such a proprietary interest may be assigned to anyone else in conformity with the law. In a screenplay, a writer may have copyright, but in a film compilation, the producer has copyright.

Conclusion

In Indian Copyright law, the scope of remake rights is unclear; some cases, such as MRF v. Metro Tyres[2017] and Yash Raj Films v. Sri Sai Ganesh Productions [2016], including remake rights in the Producers’ existing rights (broadening the scope of the right to make copies), while others, such as Mr.Thiagarajan Kumararajavs M/S Capital Film Works [2017], hold it otherwise. Furthermore, in the case of S.J.Suryah (a.k.a. S.JustinSelvaraj) v. S.S.Chakravarthy and ors. [2021], Suryah was unable to establish a prima facie case that he owned the copyright in the relevant film’s screenplay or dialogue. However, if the individual can show that the storyline, screenplay, or dialogues were not commissioned but were allowed to be utilized by him throughout the film’s production, he may be able to claim rights to them. As a result of the differing views of the courts, people tend to reproduce the original work and call it a “remake.” There are a variety of consequences of plagiarism, including financial consequences, as unauthorized remakes result in original creators receiving no royalties, and other consequences, such as a lack of creative content production and no investment in the hard work of people creating original content. Eventually, Bollywood suffers reputational and financial ramifications as a result of this. To address these issues, the Indian system must either add new provisions to the Copyright laws especially addressing remake rights, or improve contractual agreements to enforce severe laws in such cases and nurture original talent in the industry.

Similarly, the Delhi judicature within the case Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd v. Sri Sai Ganesh Productions & Ors. (2019) the lawsuit concerns a cinema referred to as “Band Baja Barat.” during this case, the plaintiff claimed that the storyline, plot, and presentation of the theme within the original film were all completely plagiarized. it had been claimed that the thought, concept, storyline, character sketches, story, script, form expression, and other aspects of the works had been duplicated which there have been significant similarities between the works. infringement is that the results of such obvious copying. Plaintiff contended that individuals who have viewed both films will get the distinct sense that the defendant’s work may be a carbon of the plaintiff’s work. As a result, the wants of R.G. Anand’s test for determining infringement are met. The defendants had infringed on the plaintiff’s copyright within the film, in line with the Delhi supreme court.

The following implies that remakes are covered under section 14(d)(i) of the Act, and therefore the existing condition of film protection favors film producers because even remakes of films (if the film is original) can not be made without the producer’s permission. Although no aspect of the first recording is duplicated in remakes.

In the case of Thiagarajan Kumararaja v. Capital Film Works (India) Pvt. Ltd., (2017) a dispute between the writer-director and also the producer of the film “AaranyaKaandam” resulted within the court ruling. within the issue at hand, the producer had only been granted a limited license to utilize the script in an exceedingly single film. The Supreme Court ruled that if the author owns the copyright to the script, the producer cannot hold the remake rights. It stated:

“A remake of the film or its versions which are substantially the same as the first cinematograph film cannot come within the ambit of the proper to repeat a movie, which is provided for under Section 14(d)(i) of the 1957 Act. In our opinion, while the correct to repeat a movie includes the proper to copy the said film, it, however, doesn't include the correct to remake or to create different versions of the identical film.”

The Madras supreme court recently ruled in favor of the film’s producer within the matter of S.J.Suryah (a.k.a. S.JustinSelvaraj) v. S.S.Chakravarthy and ors. (2021), The Hon’ble Court stated that within the case of films, particularly cinematographic films, the primary owner of the copyright is that the producer, citing Section 17 of the Copyright Act, 1957, which deals with the ‘First Owner of Copyright.’ The producer has the remake rights under the work for hire agreement under Section 14(1)d of the Copyright Act, additionally to the copyright, and zip prevents him from doing a remake. Such a proprietary interest is also assigned to anyone else in conformity with the law. in a very screenplay, a writer may have copyright, but in an exceedingly film compilation, the producer has copyright.

Conclusion

In Indian Copyright law, the scope of remake rights is unclear; some cases, like MRF v. Metro Tyres[2017] and Yash Raj Films v. Sri Sai Ganesh Productions [2016], including remake rights within the Producers’ existing rights (broadening the scope of the proper to form copies), while others, such as Mr.Thiagarajan Kumararajavs M/S Capital Film Works [2017], hold it otherwise. Furthermore, within the case of S.J.Suryah (a.k.a. S.JustinSelvaraj) v. S.S.Chakravarthy and ors. [2021], Suryah was unable to ascertain a clear case that he owned the copyright within the relevant film’s screenplay or dialogue. However, if the individual can show that the storyline, screenplay, or dialogues weren't commissioned but were allowed to be utilized by him throughout the film’s production, he could also be ready to claim rights to them. As a results of the differing views of the courts, people tend to breed the initial work and call it a “remake.” There are a spread of consequences of plagiarism, including financial consequences, as unauthorized remakes end in original creators receiving no royalties, and other consequences, like an absence of creative content production and no investment within the toil of individuals creating original content. Eventually, Bollywood suffers reputational and financial ramifications as a results of this. to handle these issues, the Indian system must either add new provisions to the Copyright laws especially addressing remake rights, or improve contractual agreements to enforce severe laws in such cases and nurture original talent within the industry.