Copyright

An End to the Raabta-Magadheera Copyright Row


Last week, I had covered the copyright controversy surrounding the upcoming Hindi film “Raabta” (over here). The producers of the movie had been sued by the Geeta Arts, the producers of the Telugu film “Magadheera” over alleged copyright infringement. I had also promised to provide an update as soon as new details emerge.

Over the last two days, news reports have been flashing headlines that indicate a copyright victory in favour of Raabta. After reading a few of these reports and doing a quick check on the court website, here’s what I could gather:

The injunction application filed by Geeta Arts has apparently been reserved for orders. The entire script of the movie, ‘Raabta’ was filed along with a comparative chart of the two movies. On this count, the Firstpost report mirrors a Mid-day coverage that quotes the ‘Raabta’ lawyer as saying, “We have filed the entire script of our film along with a comparative chart showing how the two films are completely different in the their story, treatment and expression, something that the Plaintiff ought to have done in the first place as part of his pleadings to show comparative similarities.”
This is consistent with the Hyderabad City Civil Court website which does not reflect any order of this case. However, when searched by case status, it shows that the next date is listed for 23rd June, 2017. The URL of the ‘case status’ page does not redirect to it, but I am providing the relevant details for the benefit of our readers. These can be used to access the status of the case on the website –

  • Website URL: http://services.ecourts.gov.in/ecourtindia_v5/#
  • State: Telangana; District: Hyderabad; Court Complex: Chief Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad
  • CNR number: TSHCO10017232017
  • Case type: OS – ORIGINAL SUIT
  • Filing Number: 486/2017
  • Registration Number: 368/2017
  • Petitioner: M/s Geeta Arts
  • Respondent: Dinesh Vijan.

The Deccan Chronicle coverage of the matter indicates that after the hearing, both the sides urged the court to pass the order by June 8, but the court refused to be bound by any deadlines.

The idea-expression dichotomy along with the major technical differences between the plot lines of the two films, were vehemently argued by Team Raabta. Both the aforementioned reports indicate this. Firstpost reports, “The lawyers fighting Raabta’s case argued on 7 July that the storyline, the background of the characters, the locations, the finale and the role of the villain in the film are completely different from that of Magadheera.”

In addition, Mid-day notes, “The makers further pointed out the similiarities, even if there were any, were purely on themes that are generic to every film made on reincarnation of two lovers.”

The Deccan Chronicle coverage confirms the same, “Makers of ‘Raabta’ argued for over 5 hours in court yesterday and today citing several differences in the script and storyline of their films ‘Raabta’ and ‘Magadheera’.”

The suit has since been withdrawn by the producers of Magadheera. This seems to be the main reference point for the shouts of copyright victory echoing through media channels. Indian Express notes, “After a legal battle between both the sides, the makers of Raabta, today morning, sent a message saying, ‘RAABTA wins!!!! Magadheera withdraws.’ An official from the Magadheera team also confirmed that they have withdrawn the case and have agreed to an out of court settlement instead.”Indian Express has also managed to confirm the same by speaking to the producer of the movie, Mr. Dinesh Vijan.

This withdrawal finds expression in the afore-mentioned Firstpost report as well, “Producers of Ram Charan and Kajal Aggarwal’s Telugu movie Magadheera on withdrew a plagiarism case they slapped against the makers of Bollywood film Raabta on the morning of Thursday, 8 June 2017.”

The withdrawal and promise of settlement closes the matter in terms of any available avenues for interesting copyright developments. Just in time too – as the film is all set to release today!

Image from here.

Sreyoshi Guha

Sreyoshi is a law student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. Her favourite thing about Intellectual Property Law is Copyrights, and how it can always fascinate her without ever really trying too hard. She can usually be found doing one of three things: dog-earing her favourite pages of her books, looking up a Zomato menu, or day-dreaming of the day she'll finally meet John Mayer. She loves writing and believes that it can change the world. She doesn't have any notable achievements, except probably that one time when she encountered a crazy pigeon, and lived to tell the tale. You can contact her at [email protected]

3 comments.

  1. Anonymous

    Mr.Guha,
    very interesting post. In fact the withdrawal of suit by Maghadhira producers against the Rabata producers has caused some disappointment among IP blog readers as they missed interesting debate on copyright issues. During the arguments of the case i came to Know that a novelist impleaded himself in the suit claiming that Maghadira producer has infringed copyright in his novel Chanderi . As such impleader opposed the suit on the ground that when the substantial part of the movie is based on the infringement of some other work copyright does not exist in such movie as per S. 13(3) of the copyright Act . The plight of the imp leading petition is not yet known. Impleading petition’s disposal on merits will certainly throw some light on some more copyright issues.
    I was given to understand(through IP Markets,Hyderabad – counsel represented the novelist ) that the author of Chanderi novel has obtained conditional order against the producers of Rabata Ranga Reedy court. The court in its order asked the producer to deposit an amount of Rs. 1,50,000/- in the court within a week .
    Let us wait and see the developments in this regard. – Mohan Krishna , Pendekanti Law college -Hyderabad.

    Reply
  2. Mohan Krishna, Pendekanti Law College, Hyderabad

    very interesting coverage of copyright issues on film infringement.
    Readers of IP blog have missed an opportunity on interesting debate on Copyright issue. During the arguments in the case i came to know that the author of a novel titled CHANDERI filled an impleading petition. Impleader argued that the producer of MAGHDEERA can not seek remedy because the substantial part of the film is infringement of his novel.The author relied on Section 13 (3) of the Copyright Act. Disposal of impleading petition on merits will throw light on some more issues on copyright. Plight of the impleading petition is not known .
    I was given to understand (through IP MARKETS , Hyderabad- counsel for the novelist ) that the author got a conditional order against the RAABTA producer from RnagaReddy Court. The court ordered the defendant to deposit Rs. 1,50,000/- in the court within one week’s time. Let us see how further development are going to unfold on this issue.

    Reply
  3. Sreyoshi Guha Post author

    Hello Sir,
    Thank you so much for this piece of information. I had mentioned the Chanderi angle only in passing in the previous post as I hadn’t been able to access any more details regarding the same. None of this has been reported, so I am really grateful to you for bringing this to my notice. Meanwhile, I will try locating this order on the website and also pick up on this thread in detail, as soon as more details surface.
    One minor correction: it’s Miss. Guha instead of Mr. Guha!
    Thank you again!

    Reply

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