As per reports, a writer named Ripu Daman Jaiswal has accused the makers of ‘PadMan’ of plagiarizing his script by taking scenes in the film from a script he had written. The writer has filed an FIR against Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna. He alleges that he had sent a script to Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and scenes in the film have been lifted from his story.
After watching the trailer last year, he shared the screenshots on Facebook and narrated his story. He wrote that he has filed an FIR against Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna but Jaiswal has no money to hire a lawyer. He went on to point out similarities and difference that his script and PadMan have.
He said the trailer showed Akshay giving sanitary napkin to his sister which Jaiswal had written in his script. As PadMan is based on Arunachalum Murugunatham life, he didn’t have a sister, but PadMan included the fiction.
He went on to claim that someone is yet to contact him following the FIR he filed at a local police station on January 23, 2018.
On a preliminary reading of the reports, it does not appear that Mr. Jaiswal has a strong case on copyright infringement against the makers of ‘Pad Man’, particularly because the makers have claimed to have obtained rights from Arunachalum Murugunatham on whose life the movie is based. In the case of XYZ Films LLC vs UTV Motion Pictures/ UTV Software Communications Ltd and ors, the Bombay High Court had held that “While copying, i.e., infringement necessarily implies similarity, the converse is not true: mere similarity does not always and in and of itself imply or impute copying; at least not always sufficient to support a finding of infringement.” The court had refused to do a scene by scene dissection in that case and looked at the film as a whole.
Further, there was a similar film ‘Phullu’ which released last year and was based on the same subject. A list of such cases in which writers have claimed infringement of their underlying works can be viewed here in the Judgement section.
However, if Mr. Jaiswal can prove breach of confidentiality of his story, he would have a much stronger case. There are several judicial precedents which have held that that protection of confidence is a broader right than the proprietary right of a copyright. In the case of Beyond Dreams Entertainment Pvt. Ltd & Ors V/s Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd & Anr, the Bombay High Court had held that “Whereas there can be no copyright in an idea or information per se, if the idea or information has been sufficiently formed and has been acquired by a person under such circumstances that it would be a breach of good faith to publish or use the same without authority from the person from whom it has been so acquired, the Court may in an appropriate case protect the idea or information by granting an injunction. The two rights naturally have different incidents. Whereas the copyright is good against the world at large, sharing of confidence casts a duty only on the recipient of the information or idea to maintain confidentiality and not publish or use the same without the authority of the originator”.
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