“Singardaan” Web Series, An Evident Case of Copyright Infringement

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The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Shamoil Ahmad Khan Vs Falguni Shah &Ors set down the suit for trial and directed the makers of “Singardaan” web series to maintain accounts of profit made from the web series from the date of publication of the web series till the conclusion of the suit and to render the same as and when demanded by the court during the trial.
In the instant case, the plaintiff has filed a Commercial IP Suit before the Bombay High Court alleging that the defendants had infringed the copyrights of the plaintiff by producing a web series, titled “Singardaan” having similar story, character, theme and plot. The web series was released on an App called “Ullu” and had 6 episodes for a total duration of 1 hour and 54 minutes. Thus the plaintiff had sought a temporary injunction restraining the defendants from using the same title or any other deceptively similar title and damages for the same.
The plaintiff contended that he had written the story titled “Singardaan” in Urdu first in the year 1993 and the same was published in a magazine called “Zahne-Jadid.” In 1996, it was published again in the plaintiff’s short story collection. Later, the story was re-published in multiple languages and was also staged as plays quite often. Defendants on the other hand denied that their work was not a copy or adoption of the plaintiff’s work and contended that the story and creation of the web series were entirely original and substantiated on the same.
However, the Bombay High Court taking due consideration of the facts and circumstances observed that there was a close similarity between the two stories and that the defendants indeed had copied the main elements& theme of the plaintiff’s story. The Court viewed that there was a prima facie case of infringement of copyright in favor of the plaintiff and thus ruled a monetary compensation instead of a temporary injunction in the interest of justice.

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