KR Ravi Rathinam v. Kamarajar Salai & Ors

Sachet SahniCase Summary

       KR Ravi Rathinam v. Kamarajar Salai & Ors
In the Madras High Court at Madurai
W.P.(MD) 18210/2014 and M.P.(MD) 1-2/2014
Before Justice M. Venugopal
Decided on December 03, 2014

Relevancy of the case: Filing writ petition for copyright infringement through YouTube.

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2, 66B, 66E, 72, 72A, 76, 77)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 109, 120(B), 379, 403, 420, 468, 470, 471)
  • The Copyright Act, 1957 (Section 14, 16, 55, 62)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner is a debutant director for the Tamil feature film ‘Mullai Vanam 999’ to be produced by Ranga Pon Solai Films. According to the petitioner, the entire story was uploaded by him on YouTube on 24/2/2013 itself. All the film stories are being floated in the social websites to show the ownership of films when the same is not patented at Chennai. Further, a number of new channels like Ottran Seithi, Sun Network, Kalaingar Network, Raj Network, Jaya Network, Mega T.V and Vasanth T.V telecasted the same. Also from 26/2/2013 onwards, YouTube floated the same in the public domain.
  • On 24/2/2013 at 10.00 a.m., pooja for ‘Mullai Vanam 999’ was celebrated in AVM Studios. To the petitioner’s shock, on 2/5/2014, while browsing ‘YouTube’, his story was appearing in the film named ‘Linga’, as if produced by the Seventh Respondent, directed by the Tenth Respondent, story by the Eighth Respondent and to be acted and distributed by the 11th Respondent. The aforesaid respondents had clandestinely stolen his property from ‘YouTube’ and posted the same on 2/5/2014. Hence, the petitioner has moved this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The learned counsel for the petitioner contends that his representation dated 1/11/2014 prays for stopping of the release of ‘Lingaa’ and to grant him protection. Also, he wants his representation to be registered as a First Information Report and to conduct an enquiry. The counsel submits that relief prayed for by the petitioner in the Writ Petition is in the nature of Mandamus by directing the respondents 1 to 6 to act upon his representation by conducting a detailed enquiry after appointing a fact-finding committee, etc.
  • The learned counsel for the respondents 7 and 11 contends that the petitioner has come to this court with unclean hands. There can be no copyright in respect of idea, subject matter, themes, plots or historical or legendary facts. The counsel submitted that the petitioner, as on date. does not have any copyright. Moreover, he has not spent any money on production and the production of ‘Lingaa’ is completed. The counsel for the respondents 8 and 10 submits that the film ‘Lingaa’ is not yet born. When it is certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, then one will know what the film is. Therefore, it is premature and it is duly certified. A proper certificate is issued and made available for public and nothing can be said in the subject matter in issue.

Opinion of the Bench

  • At this stage, this court relevantly points out that Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957 speaks of ‘Meaning of Copyright.’ It is to be remembered that all endeavour intellectual excellence is so equally open to who wish to add or to improve upon the material already collected by others making an original piece of work. It cannot be said that no homo-sapien can monopolise on a certain subject. But at the same time, one should keep in mind that the object under the act is to protect the commercial value of the productive effort of a person’s mind and to secure a fair return to an author for his creative labour.

Final Decision

  • The court held that the remedy of the petitioner is not to file the present writ petition before this court against the concerned persons. The appropriate remedy for him is to file a civil suit before the competent forum. In the result, the writ petition is dismissed, leaving the parties to bear their own costs. Consequently, the connected miscellaneous petitions are also dismissed.

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