Bombay High Court Dismissed an Ad-Interim Application Alleging the Copyright Infringement by Netflix

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In Sameer Wadekar & Another v. Netflix Entertainment Services Pvt. Ltd.the plaintiff filed a suit for copyright infringement of his original work ‘Vetaal’. The infringement was alleged against the release of Netflix series ‘Betaal’. As a result, the plaintiff requested to put a restrain on the release of ‘Betaal’.

Facts of a case

The plaintiff filed an application for copyright infringement of his literary work ‘Vetaal’. The plaintiff claimed that the upcoming Netflix series ‘Betaal’ is a copy of his work ‘Vetaal’. Thus, the plaintiff sought the Court to put stay on the release of a series.

Plaintiff’s Argument

The plaintiffs, Sameer Wadekar and Mahesh Goswami contended that he wrote ‘Vetaal’ in 2013-14. He got it registered in 2015 at copyright office in Delhi. They also registered with the Screen Writers Association in 2018. The plaintiff claimed that he had watched the trailer of a series on YouTube. After watching, he found at least 13 similarities with his work.

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Mr Viraj Kadam is the counsel on behalf of the plaintiff. He submitted that the ‘Vetaal’ movie was an original work of plaintiff. The plaintiff created a story on his imagination. His imagination included characters, props and location, etc. of a film. The plaintiff claimed that this was a case of plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Defendant’s Submission

The defendant claimed that the series ‘Betaal’ is an original work of defendants. There was no similarity between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s work. The defendants also submitted that the news about ‘Betaal’ had published in June 2019. The news was published at various sites available at public domain. Moreover, these publications also contained a description of the story of the series.

Court’s Analysis

The justice asked the plaintiff how it was possible for the defendant no. 3 (author) to know about the story of the plaintiff’s original work. The plaintiff stated that the plaintiff had shared his work with many producers. Wilson Louis was one of them. The plaintiff relied on the mails in which Wilson noted that he wanted to make the film happen. Wilson also had contacts in Netflix. But the Court stated that e-mails did not prove that there is a contact between Wilson and the defendant. Thus, it is not possible that the original work of the plaintiff can be copied by anyone else.

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The Court said that the availability of information about the series story favoured the defendants. Hence, the plaintiff’s claim that he was not aware of publications has no relevance.

The Court also stated that the word ‘Betaal’ has originated from the word ‘Vetalam’. It is a word related to Hindu Mythology. The story of the series is also based on a tale relevant in Hindu Mythology.

Court’s Decision

The Bench led by Justice K.R. Shriram dismissed the appeal. The Court also asked Mr Kadam to amend the plaint to include claims and damages. Further, the Court granted a period of 8 weeks to file the written statement.


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