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R.G Anand vs M/S. Delux Films & Ors on 18 August, 1978

Supreme Court of India Supreme Court of India R.G Anand vs M/S. Delux Films & Ors on 18 August, 1978 Equivalent citations: 1978 AIR 1613, 1979 SCR (1) 218 Bench: Fazalali, S Murtaza PETITIONER: R.G ANAND Vs. RESPONDENT: M/S. DELUX FILMS & ORS. DATE OF JUDGMENT18/08/1978 BENCH: FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA BENCH: FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA SINGH, JASWANT PATHAK, R.S. CITATION: 1978 AIR 1613 1979 SCR (1) 218 1978 SCC (4) 118 ACT: Infringement of a copyright in a play in a film-What are the tests-Whether copyright can be claimed in a theme. Suit for damages for infringement of a copyright-What are the principles. HEADNOTE: The appellant-plaintiff is a playwright, dramatist and producer of stage plays. The appellant had written and, produced a number of plays. The subject matter of the appeal however, is the play entitled (Hum Hindustani'. This play was written by him in the year 1953 and was enacted in the year 1954 and thereafter the play proved to be popular. In November 1954 the appellant received a letter from the second defendant-Mr. Mohan Sehgal requesting the appellant to supply a copy of the play so that he could consider the desirability of making, a film on it. Thereafter, the appellant and defendant No. 2 met at Delhi. In May, 1955 the second defendant announced the production of a motion picture entitled "New Delhi". The picture was released in Delhi in September 1956. The appellant saw the picture. The appellant filed a suit alleging that the film "New Delhi" was entirely based upon the play "Hum Hindustani", that the play was narrated by the appellant to defendant No. 2 and he dishonestly imitated the same in his film and thus committed an act of piracy as to result in Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1734007/ 1

R.G Anand vs M/S. Delux Films & Ors on 18 August, 1978

violation of the copy right of the plaintiff. The appellant, therefore, filed the suit for damages, for decree for accounts of the profits made by the defendant and a decree for permanent inujunction against the defendants restraining them from exhibiting the film. The suit was contested by the defendants. The defendants pleaded that defendant No. 2 is a film director and producer and director of Delux Films defendant No. I that at the instance of a common friend Mr. Gargi the defendant No. 2 met the appellant and saw the script of the play, that the play was inadequate for The purpose of making of a full length commercial motion picture. The defendants contended that there could be no copy right so far as the subject of provincialism is concerned which can be used or adopted by anybody in his own way. The defendants further contended that the motion picture was quite different from the play both in contents, spirit and climax. The mere fact of some similarities between the firms and the play could be explained by the Fact that the idea, provincialism was the common source of the play as also of the film. The trial court raised several issues and came to the conclusion that the appellant was the owner of the copy right in 'Hum Hindustani' but there was no violation of copy right of the appellant. Thereafter the appellant filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court upheld the decree dismissing the appellant's suit. The counsel for the appellant contended (1) that the principles enunicated and the legal inference drawn by the courts below are against the settled legal principles laid down by the courts in England, America and India (2) the two 219 courts have not fully understood the imports of the violation of copy-right particularly when the similarities between the play and The film are so close that would lead to the irresistible inference and unmistakable impression that the film is nothing but an imitation of the play. The counsel for the respondents submitted (1) that the two courts below have applied the law correctly. (2) This Hon'ble Court...
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