Allegation of Copyright Infringement: Ad-interim Application Dismissed by Bombay High Court

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The single judge of the Hon’ble Bombay high court while deciding an ad–interim application in a civil suit seeking interim stay to restrain the screening of a web series named “BETAAL” alleging copyright infringement, declined to grant the relief sought by incorporating necessary observations in its order .
The plaintiff, “Sameer Wadekar” a writer registered with the screenwriter association stated that he has written a fictional story named “Vetaal” way back in 2013-2014 and got it registered in 2015. He further stated that when he came across a YouTube video containing the trailer of a new web series of the defendant “Netflix Entertainment Services Pvt.Ltd.” named “BETAAL” to be released on Over The Top [OTT] Platform, he found that in 146 seconds of the video trailer there were at least 13 similarities with his copyright work in “VETAAL” constituting copyright infringement of his literary work.
The single judge of the Hon’ble Bombay high court decided to dismiss the application in favor of the defendants by making his observations mainly on three points. Firstly, the single judge observed that the email exchanged between Plaintiff and the director of the web series “BETAAL”- Mr.Wilson Louis (Defendant No.4) does not show any nexus between the Defendant No.4 and NetFlix as alleged by Plaintiff. Secondly, the judge observed that the defendant had made online publications on the 16th& 17th of June 2019 which carried reports that defendant no.1 (Distributor) airing an original web-series called BETAAL with a description of a web-series in those articles. Thirdly, the judge made his observation with regard to the name of the web series “BETAAL” describing that the term “BETAAL” originates from Hindu methodology term “VETALAM” and it is no way infringes the name and copyright work of Plaintiff in “VETAAL”. The Hon’ble Court made the above three observations and dismissed the ad-interim application. It adjourned the matter to 8 weeks for filing of a written statement by the defendants.

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