K.R. Ravi Ranitham v. The Director General of Police

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Writ petition for removal of a copied movie from YouTube

K.R. Ravi Ranitham v. The Director General of Police
In the High Court of Madras
W.A. (MD) 1443/2014 & M.P. (MD) 1/2014
Before Justice V. Dhanapalan and Justice V.M. Velumani
Decided on December 11, 2014

Relevancy of the case: Writ petition for removal of a copied movie from YouTube

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66B, 66E, 72, 76, 77)
  • The Constitution of India, 1948 (Section 226)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 36, 154(3), 156(3), 190, 200, 482)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 109, 120B, 379, 403, 420, 468, 470, 471)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The appellant, a deputy director of a Tamil feature film “Mullai Vanam 999” was the owner, author and also had the screenplay and direction of the film.
  • He uploaded the entire story on Youtube dated 24.02.2013 to show that he owned the film as it was not patented in Chennai.
  • The appellant alleged that several channels telecast the same. He told that from 26.02.2013 the story started to float in the public domain on Youtube.
  • On 02.05.2014 he found his story appeared on Youtube in a film called Lingaa alleged uploaded and shared by seventh, eighth, tenth, and eleventh respondents.
  • The appellant accused the respondents of stealing his intellectual property right work and uploading it under their name on Youtube.
  • Aggrieved by the judgement of the learned single judge, the appellant has approached the High Court.
  • The appellant prayed for the issuance of the writ of mandamus against respondents to conduct a detailed enquiry and to formulate a finding committee to procure evidence.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The appellant’s counsel argued that the appellant is a first-generation professional who has toiled for 47 years to enter into cinema field to fulfil his dream of writing the film’s story.
  • The appellant’s counsel alleged that they filed a complaint against a magazine named ‘Kungumam’ as they revealed the story as ‘Mullaivanam’ but no actions were taken against them.
  • The learned counsel on behalf of respondents numbers 1, 5, and 7 said that an enquiry was conducted upon receiving the complaint.
  • The learned counsel on behalf of respondent numbers 7, 8, 10, and 11 said that the writ was not maintainable against them as the story and rights created by the private respondents are on their own and could vary from individual to individual.
  • The respondents’ counsel opposed the maintainability of the writ petition and said that a civil court should adjudicate the issue of ownership and infringement of rights.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The bench decided not to entertain the appellant’s writ petition. It decided to refer the matter before the concerned court of civil jurisdiction within a prescribed time.
  • They also decided to relegate the appellant to civil court to avail himself of remedies.
  • The bench asked the seventh respondent to deposit 10 crores rupees after which respondents 7, 8, 9 and 11  could release the film Lingaa.
  • The bench asked the appellant to approach respective forums under the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Final Decision

  • The writ petition stood disposed of.

This case summary has been prepared by Tuba Aftab, an undergraduate student at IIMT & School of Law, GGSIPU, during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in May/June 2021.