The Bombay High Court, in its recent judgment in Mansoob Haider v. Yashraj Films Pvt Ltd, refused to grant interim injunction against release of “DHOOM 3” via satellite broadcast. The judgment reaffirms the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in R.G. Anand v. M/s. Delux Films & Ors. This post shall focus on the principle of law involved in this case. At the outset, I would like to commend Justice G.S. Patel for his clarity of thought which is reflected in this judgment.
The judgment re-affirmed the principles laid out in R.G. Anand. Further, there can be no copyright in elements that constitute scene a faire genre. It is a French word which means “scene to be made” or “scene that must be done” connoting a scene in a book or film customary to the genre. For example, a robbery followed by a chase will fall under scene a faire.
The Plaintiff lost out on all the vital issues: a) couldn’t prove that the Defendant had access to his work; b) failed on intrinsic test; and c) couldn’t prove that there was substantial and material overlapping or commonality of the original elements in the plaintiff’s work. As the Court observed, “the Plaintiff had an additional burden to show how the release of the film on television channels via satellite broadcast will so prejudice him that an injunction must be granted.”This judgment reflects only a prima facie evaluation of the facts in hand. Even then, this is definitely a major setback for the Plaintiff. As violation of copyright amounts to an act of piracy it must be proved by clear and cogent evidence. Therefore, the Plaintiff may consider conducting a legal due diligence at this juncture before deciding on the future course of action.