If you’re in the creative field, you should have some basic knowledge about copyright. After all, you do not want someone to steal your creation (the industry is full of such stories on how their million dollar ideas were stolen).
What is Copyright?
Here’s the Wikipedia definition of a Copyright:
Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution.
So how does it apply to the film industry?
A copyright is basically a type of intellectual property protection that covers works of art including writing, illustrations, music, films, and just about any other artistic expression of ideas or concepts.
The reason that people register their copyright is because it becomes easier, in cases of infringement, to determine the original creator of the work.
What is Protected?
In India, Copyright Act, 1957 and the Copyright Rules, 1958 provides safeguards for copyright protection.
© – copyright, upon creation of original matter (this is the symbol used to suggest that the matter is copyrighted).
Here are some of the creative works that may be protected under copyright law:
- Literary works (written works, source codes of computer programs, website layouts and interfaces)
- Dramatic works (scripts for films and dramas)
- Musical works (melodies/compositions)
- Artistic works (photographs, paintings)
- Published editions of the above works
- Sound recordings
- Films and movies
- Television and radio broadcasts
- Television programmes
- Presentations, Business Plan, Brochures
Always remember that Copyright resides with the creator or author. However, be cautious while outsourcing your ‘creative’ work or while working with contractors.
Free Tools & Resources
Looking for some free tools to prepare your copyrights? You can start here.
1) Search Portal, India:
2) Search Portal, USA:
Looking for professional help to fight infringement? A Trademark Agent or a Trademark Attorney is licensed to represent a client before the State (Copyright Office and Offices of that state).
Copyright cases against Filmmakers
‘Rangoon’ gets caught in copyright case, producers Wadia allege that Kangana’s character in the movie resembles that of Fearless Nadia in Hunterwali.
Here are the reasons provided by Rangoon filmmakers and their lawyers as to why they are not on the wrong side of the law:
- Director Vishal Bhardwaj says the iconic character of ‘Fearless Nadia’ is not original. Fearless Nadia is just a screen name like Dream Girl or Dilip Kumar, not a fictional character like Superman, Godzilla or James Bond that could be copied.
- Rangoon director used publicly available information to make the film. Besides, six competitors of Wadia Movietone (original producers of Hunterwali) had used Nadia’s name to make movies, but Wadias never objected. Fearless Nadia’s character itself was copied from Zorro and Pearl White.
- “Character copyright is not sustainable as per Indian Copyright Right Law. So if we consider Fearless Nadia as a character, it can’t be a fit case under copyright law anyway. Nadia was an adopted name by Mary Evans much before Hunterwali (1935) came out. She added ‘Fearless’ later since she performed stunts on her own,” said lawyer Saraf
- Wadia Movietone (Indian film production company established by Wadia brothers) had claimed to have shared a script with Vishal Bhardwaj in 2006, but the Rangoon filmmaker denied receiving any such script, thereby dismissing copyright infringement charges.
- While there could be parallels between Hunterwali (1935) and Rangoon’s trailer, there’s nothing that matches Wadia’s script, which was supposedly handed to UTV. Bhardwaj eventually made Rangoon with help of American scriptwriter, th duo did extensive research on stunt women from World War II era.