The Delhi High Court observed that copyright can only be granted for the expression of an idea and not for the idea itself, and that idea can be expressed in several forms.
The observation was made while rejecting a petition seeking to stall the release of the film ‘Lootcase’ on the ground that it has the same story as ‘Tulla Fitt’ has been rejected by Delhi High Court.
The petitioner Vinay Vats who is a writer said the film ‘Tukkaa Fitt’ produced by M/s. AAP Entertainment Limited had been completed in November 2012 but could not be released due to the sudden death of one of the producers.
Fox Star Studios India Pvt Ltd has streamed the film Lootcase on Hotstar since theatres have not been allowed to open because of COVID 19.
The Court said the balance of convenience lay in favour of the defendant. The court was not convinced with the plaintiff’s claim of becoming aware of Lootcase’s release only recently, since the media had been covering the film for a year before the release date.
The court stated that by filing a lawsuit only a few days before the film’s release, the plaintiff tried to compel the court to expedite the proceedings to get an interim injunction to halt the film’s release. The court, therefore, decided in favour of the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s plea for the grant of an interim injunction.
The plaintiff, who is the original scriptwriter and owns the copyright in the script of the film ‘Tukkaa Fitt’, claimed that the film ‘Lootcase’ has the same story as the film Tukka Fitt. The plaintiff in the lawsuit claims that the film ‘Lootcase’, was only recently brought to the plaintiff’s attention and when the plaintiff watched the trailer, the plaintiff noted several similarities between Lootcase and Tukka Fitt.
The Court noted that the film Lootcase was set to release on 31 July 2020 but the plaintiff chose to file a lawsuit for the grant of an interim injunction mere days before the release of the film, in spite of the fact that the film’s trailer was launched almost a year before the release date.
The story of the film Lootcase revolves around a suitcase full of cash, and several people looking for that suitcase after it goes missing. The defendants stated the film’s storyline is a very common one which has been previously used in several films. Further, the defendants stated that according to the documents submitted by the plaintiff, the producers of the film Tukka Fitt, had paid a certain sum of money to the plaintiff to purchase the script of the film, and all the rights subsisting therein. Due to this, the extent of the plaintiff’s rights over the film’s script has to be clarified.
According to the court, in order to confirm whether or not two films are exactly the same in terms of the execution, the most reliable way to do determine that is to see the audience’s reaction to both the films. If the audiences find any similarities in both the films, then the next step is to ascertain the extent of such similarity.