Trend of approaching Courts at the last moment in order to stall the release of a film, unacceptable

Bombay High Court: While denouncing the recent trend of persons approaching Courts on eleventh hour, with a view to stall release of Movies, on the ground of plagiarism of his/her creative work by the director, the bench comprising of GS Patel J., dismissed the notice of motion with costs of Rs. 150000 to be paid by the Plaintiff to the Naam Foundation.

The present dispute centres around a film called Mohenjo Daro released on 12th August 2016.  The Plaintiff’s case, stated that a film directed by the 1st Defendant infringes something that the Plaintiff says he once wrote. The film’s director is the 1st Defendant, Mr. Ashutosh Gowarikar. The joint producers are the 2nd Defendant, his production company, Ashutosh Gowarikar Productions Pvt Ltd (“AGPPL”) and the 4th Defendant, UTV Software Communications Ltd (“UTV”). The film stars, among others, the 5th Defendant, Mr. Hrithik Roshan, Mr. Kabir Bedi and Ms. Pooja Hegde.

The Court after hearing plaintiff’s claim said that the entire case seems to have been put up only in order to gain some mileage from the release of this film. The Court did not doubt the Plaintiff in having certain stage productions with Mohenjo Daro as a contextual setting but was unable to agree with his claim of infringement.  The Court further said that “the tendency these days is to blithely accuse anyone of ‘copying’ and ‘plagiarising’, and the online trolls are particularly adept at this; for these allegations need no proof and have no consequence. Yet, fling about enough mud and some of it will stick. Coincidence, happenstance, shared common and public sources are not the stuff of infringement. Even in copyright law there is a permissible degree of fair use that does not constitute infringement.  In this case, the 1995 document is unpublished, so the question of it being in public knowledge is ruled out.” While taking this case as entirely false suit, based on suppression, speculation, contradictions, prevarication and evasion, the Court dismissed the notice of motion by imposing a cost of Rs. 150000 on the Plaintiff.  [Akshayaditya Lama v Ashutosh Gowarikar, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 5207, decided on 2nd August, 2016]

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