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27 December 2017

Copyright of producer in cinematograph film includes dubbing rights

The author of the script for a cinematograph film sought permanent injunction against the producer of the movie in Tamil language, from dubbing the film in Telugu language. The appellant-author claimed that he held the copyright in the script and had only permitted the producer to make the film in one language.
 
The producer of the film claimed that as a producer he had the right to communicate the work – consisting of story, script, screenplay and sound to the public and dubbing was a means to communicate the work to the public. They also claimed that the copyright in the script also had been assigned in their favour.
 
The Madras High Court in the case [Thiagarajan Kumararaja v. Capital Film Works & s P Charan] held that the right of a producer who takes the initiative and responsibility for making the work would cover dubbing rights.

However, in the absence of a valid assignment in terms of Section 19 of the Copyright Act, the copyright in the underlying script would vest with the author. In the instant case the ‘budget sheet’ signed by the parties did not make any reference to the work assigned, duration and territorial extent of assignment or royalty to be paid to legal heirs. Thus, the Court held that the author being the copyright holder in the script was entitled to the permanent injunction.