Bombay HC Refused To Stop The Streaming Of Netflix Series “Betaal” Over Copyright Infringement
Sameer Wadekar & Another vs. Netflix Entertainment Services Pvt. Ltd., LD-VC-70 OF 2020, Bombay HC
Plaintiff—– Sameer Wadekar
Defendant—- Netflix, Writer, Producer etc.
- Plaintiff has written many stories which are registered with copyright office and with Screen Writers Association and one such literary work of plaintiff is “VETAAL”. According to plaintiff he came upon a Youtube video which when plaintiff saw convinced him that in the 146 seconds of Youtube video of a web series titled BETAAL, it was a copy of plaintiff’s copyright.
- Plaintiff states that defendants have infringed their registered copyright work VETAAL andtherefore, should be restrained by an ad-interim order from going ahea with the release on 24.5.2020.
- Plaintiff alleges that it is a case of infringement of copyright and plagiarism.
- While answering to the court that if Plaintiff’s work is original, how would the defendants have come to know particularly defendant no.3 (author) of the webseries BETAAL, about this story and that too have so many similarities according to plaintiff. Counsel appearing for the Plaintiff answered and relied on the e-mails exchanged between plaintiff and Wilson Louis way back in July-2016. The Court said that these emails do not show any link between Wilson Louis and Netflix. (Point No. 1)
- Defendant has produced evidence to the fact that several print and online publications dated 16th & 17th July 2019 of general readership and popular to the trade and business of movies and general entertainment, carried reports of defendant airing an original web-series called BETAAL with a description of a web-series in those articles.The Press Release described the story line as :“A remote village becomes the theatre of a breathless battle when a two-century old Betaal, a British Indian Army officer, and his battalion of zombie redcoats are unleashed. With Indian police pitted against the undead army, hapless villagers are trapped in a horrific, edge-of-your-seat conflict”. (Point No. 2)
- The Bombay Court while answering Point no. 1 said that bench find it difficult to believe that so called original story written by plaintiff, can be copied by somebody else.
- The Bombay Court while answering Point no. 2 said that Plaintiff was not aware of this pressrelease/publication does not help his case because these were in public domain.
- The 3rd point which Court made was not in favour of plaintiff for granting an ad- interim relief as prayed for is word `Betaal’ originates from `Vetalam’ relevant in Hindu Methodology. Everybody would have read the stories of Vikramaditya where a Vetaal would ask him a question and also tell him if he opens his mouth to speak, VETAAL will fly away and that if he does not answer despite knowing the answer, his head will explode. The beliefs associated with VETAAL is that it has super natural powers with great prowess.
- Therefore, on the above clarifications and order, the Court dismissed the application of the Plaintiff for ad-interim relief (stay) since there was no Copyright Infringement by the defendant on the basis of the Plaintiff’s Argument.