Idea Expression Dichotomy- A Failed Claim for Copyright Infringement
from replicating/ reproducing any original work of an artist or a producer. It refers to an act that is derived in material form and not in idea.
The Idea – Expression dichotomy related to copyright isn’t new, it possesses a major obstacle which is addressed in the case of Vinay Vats vs. Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd and Ors. This case infers the meaning of “expression” for an unreleased film and whether general knowledge of a film’s trailer makes suitable claims for copyright violation.
Overview of the Case
Affirmation was made as the trailer of the film “TukkaFitt” and film “Lootcase” which released its official trailer on 16th July 2020 were identical.
The claimant is the owner of a script for an unreleased film “TukkaFitt”. He stated that he witnessed similarities with the recent film Lootcase.
The film “TukkaFitt” had three men who are the beneficiaries of the bag of money and there is a presence of a female character who tries to confront them. On the other hand, the film “Lootcase” revolves around a common man and his family.
There is a scenario where parts of the trailer were included explicitly in the film which would lead to copyright violation according to claimant.
Issue 1: Does the claimant have a substantive cause of action in the script for instituting the present suit?
Issue 2: Are these the sufficient grounds for copyright violation?
Issue 3: Can the plaintiff claim legal penalties for copyright infringement?
The Court of law acknowledged that certain plot points being similar without chronological and detailed resemblance cannot be a ground to hold a ruling for copyright infringement.
Addressing the issues, the Court held that the cause of action on a script that did not come into the general knowledge of the people and rests on the movie trailer alone, this action remains inchoate.
In comparison, the defendant did not make the allegation and the trailer producers have no allegation for copyright infringement.
In addition, on the eve of the publication of the film “Lootcase,” the Court of law ruled that there was no reason for the appellant to request an injunction against such publication in the circumstances. Consequently, the Court denied the application
Citing the case of Donoghue vs. Allied Newspaper Ltd., where it was apprehended that, until an idea is reduced to a tangible form or writing no right to copyright exists. The court held in the above mentioned case that TukkaaFitt did not catch sight of the spectators. The film’s trailer can’t be sufficient to assert a claim on a complete film.
The Court further cited the Case of RG Anand where the Apex Court ruled that the subject matter, themes and stock characters have no copyright claim and cannot be constituted a basis for infringement.
The misperception related to idea and expression in relation to copyright violation isn’t newfangled. Copyright subsists only in the material form to which the idea is translated. For Example: Two film producers may have the same idea for a movie but what makes a difference is how people articulate their idea into concrete shape or material form.
Hence, the Court should recapitulate the globally recognized sight in regard to the fair doctrine theory which is concerned with the Idea of Expression dichotomy under the Copyright Law.