Balancing the equities: Delhi HC allows OTT release of the movie Shamshera with a special condition
In a recent copyright infringement suit against Yash Raj Production’s recent film “Shamshera”, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi has allowed the movie to proceed for OTT release. However, the permission has been granted subject to deposition of INR 1 crore (Approx. USD 1,25,349.90) with the Court.
The present suit was instituted by producer Bikramjeet Singh Bhullar (hereinafter the “Plaintiff) who alleged that the movie “Shamshera” was an infringement of his copyright in the literary work “Kabu naa chhadein khet”.
The movie was released in theatres on July 22, 2022 and was initially slated to release on OTT platforms on August 19, 2022. However, the Plaintiff alleged that Yash Raj films (hereinafter the “Defendant”), by making a substantial reproduction of the Plaintiff’s literary work, has infringed the copyright of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff also alleged that since the Defendant had access to Plaintiff’s entire literary work, therefore, there was also a flagrant breach of confidence.
While the Plaintiff vehemently opposed the movie's release on OTT platforms, the Defendant contended that irreparable injury would be caused to the Defendant if the movie is not allowed to be released. The Defendant also argued that the Plaintiff can always be subsequently compensated in terms of money if he succeeds.
Findings of the Court
The Hon’ble Court, while taking into account the facts of the case and attempting to balance equities, held that “Considering the totality of the circumstances as well as the fact that the impugned film has already been released in theatres and is scheduled to be released on the OTT Platforms tomorrow i.e. 19.08.2022, in my view, to balance the equities between the parties, at this stage, it would be appropriate to permit Defendant No. 1 to release the impugned film “Shamshera”, on the OTT Platforms, subject, however, to Defendant No. 1 depositing a sum of Rs.1 Crore with the Registrar General of this Court, latest by 22.08.2022. The money so deposited shall be invested in an interest-bearing fixed deposit by the learned Registrar General in a Nationalised Bank for an initial period of three months”.
The movie has now been released on Amazon Prime on August 23, 2022, after deposition of the stipulated amount with the Registry.
This case provides critical insight into the unique orders issued by the courts to balance equities. While the case is yet to be adjudicated on merits, the release of the film on OTT platforms subject to monetary deposition takes into account the interests of both parties.
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