Piracy occurs when someone tries to distribute the content through illegal
means like making CDs out of it or uploading on the internet. Piracy can be
committed unknowingly as well while people are not aware and just to save up
some money they try to look for alternatives and that's when they end up
consuming pirated content. Piracy in this Era is known as "Oh that movie we
watched before the release, I found it online, SMART ISN'T IT". This article
examines different aspects of Piracy with respect to the case in question.
RG Anand vs Deluxe Films
The plaintiff was a well-known playwright and producer of stage plays and Hum
Hindustani was the one such play written by him and was enacted in the year
1954. When defendant no. 2 showed interest when the story of the play was
narrated to him when they came to meet the plaintiff.
A movie was released in Delhi in September 1956 which was directed by the
defendants and the plaintiff read some comments in the papers which gave the
impression that the picture was very much like the play. The plaintiff after
watching found that the film was entirely based upon the said play and was,
therefore, convinced that the defendant committed an act of piracy.
The trial court raised several issues like:
- Was the work of the director a copy of the said play?
- Were the rights of the plaintiff's infringed via the movie named "New
And concluded that:
The appellant was the owner of the copyright in 'Hum
but there was no violation of the copyright of the appellant. To
appreciate the argument of the parties the court discussed the law on the
subject. At the time when the cause of action arose in the present suit, the
Indian Parliament had not made any law governing copyright violation and
therefore the court relied on the old law". The plaintiff pursued their case in
Delhi High Court where the divisional branch dismissed their appeal.
The court observed in the RG deluxe case:
That the same idea is being developed differently, it is manifest that the
source being common, similarities are bound to occur. In such a case the courts
should determine whether or not the similarities are on fundamental or
substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyrighted work.
If the defendant's work is nothing but a literal imitation of the copyrighted
work with some variations here and there it would amount to a violation of the
copyright. In other words, to be actionable the copy must be a substantial and
material one which at once leads to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty
of an act of piracy.
"The surest and the safest test to determine whether or not there has been a
violation of copyright is to see if the reader, spectator, or the viewer after
having read or seen both the works is clearly of the opinion and gets an
unmistakable impression that the subsequent work appears to be a copy of the
original. Where the theme is the same but is presented and treated differently
it doesn't amount to piracy", The court observed
The court further compared the similarities appearing in the work and concluded
that all the similarities are rather coincidental and no infringement has been
Why is the issue of piracy important?
The problem with piracy is that it is being committed on a day-to-day basis, it
occurs when a person in a fit of rage, to make some extra money or to just take
advantage of the rightful owner commits piracy and starts with the distribution
through various modes or means. There have been new mediums introduced in the
market for the same to name a few; Telegram, nutflix (A substitute for NetFlix),
Fmovies, B4U Movies, Torrent
Now the problem doesn't lie in the medium, according to me the problem lies in
the consumption or surfing these sites. We All have studied the concept of
Demand and supply ie, Where there is demand, supply emerges automatically.
In the case of piracy, people explore these sites to save some money which ends
up being an employment opportunity for some people.
Piracy is an issue that has surfaced more during these tough times in which
Internet piracy has the most major role hence to throw some light and to
understand internet piracy better let's know about it
A few reasons why Piracy is becoming an issue:
What does the law say?
- Accessibility of the internet
- No boundation on the number of people to whom the distribution can be made or
- No pain only Gain; No investment to be made and easy money can be made
- The threat of being tracked down is less
- Lack of jurisdiction governing this arena
The copyright act was amended in 2012 so that forms of online piracy can be
given jurisdiction. With the new amendments, these Sites were banned by the
government but with technology evolving if one site is banned its substitute is
made within a day.
The section that Governs this arena is section 65A and 65B
"Section 65A. Protection of technological measures" States that if any person
finds a way around or tries to deceive people and tries to infringe the rights
of another person or entity in this process he may be imprisoned for two years
with a fine or both. The prime example of this can be the site named Nutflix
which is a replica of Netflix with the UI also being the same and it is easily
accessible for people via the internet.
"Section 65B. Protection of Rights Management Information" states that "any
person who Tries to edit, remove any information or distributes as well as
broadcast it to the public shall be behind bars for at least 2 years or with a
hefty fine and if the rights management information has been tampered with in
any work, the owner of copyright in such work may also avail of civil remedies
provided under Chapter XII against the persons indulging in such acts." For
example the Ipl matches or big boss episodes being screencast for people who
don't have the prime membership of the broadcasting channel namely star sports
or for people not having access to the app voot.
Piracy or no Piracy?
"If a reappraisal of the facts in the present case were open to this Court, the
Court perhaps would have differed from the view taken on the facts by the High
Court". The court noted. The test laid down, in this case, acted as a base in
many upcoming similar cases. Last it was used in Shivani Tibrewala vs Rajat
Mukherjee And 4 Ors (COMIP NO. 665 OF 2017). We all wonder if the decision would
have been different with the introduction of The IT Act 2000 and various new
acts introduced to protect the rights of an owner, The answer to this question
is unclear because even if some similarities prevail piracy was still wasn't
attempted as the court also addressed the similarities and dissimilarities of
the play and then came to a conclusion of piracy not being committed.
The defendant would have committed piracy if they took a video of the play and
illegally distributed it online on various platforms then it would amount to
piracy, Or the plaintiff would have committed piracy when he recorded the whole
movie and distributed the same in September 1956 and made it accessible for
According to Section 65A of The copyright act which was amended in
Earlier piracy wasn't considered such a heinous crime as the internet was a
privilege only exercised by the privileged class, but with time it has changed
and so has the law. Piracy is different from substantial similarity as when the
question of substantial similarity arises the court take help of the Total
concept and feel test, Extrinsic-intrinsic test, and
Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison whereas in Piracy if the plaintiff shows
evidence that the defendant in place of taking revenge or for personal gains
illegally distributed their copyrighted work which is an offense, the court will
pass the judgment according.
For example; If A has made a movie named Sone ka khazana
and B being a
stage artist was impressed by the film hence he thought of making the replica of
without consulting A, This is a prime example of substantial
similarity whereas if B had consulted A and The suggestion had been refused
because it would affect the box office collection and B intrigued by this
recorded the whole movie and published it online or made it into a cd and
distributed it online then it would amount to piracy.
We knowingly or unknowingly commit piracy daily a prime example can be when we
make a boomerang that showcases a movie scene from the movie and uploads it on
social media, believe it or not, it adds up to piracy, now let us address some
instances of piracy;
Kanak had to watch suits and with no amazon prime subscription, she thought of
looking for it online and found the site named F.movies which was broadcasting
the show with subtitles, and that link was instantly forwarded to her friends
because she had found a solution for her broke friends as well.
Vivek had a telegram group on which he used to upload daily episodes of big boss
for others to watch and later discuss. Sneha was very grateful for him to upload
being a middle-class person with no voot premium membership she had the chance
to watch it.
Mahima had a drive link where all the episodes of the show Friends were there
she instantly forwarded it to her friend Abhaya who was a big fan of the show.
And the list continues, these instances tell us how easy it has become to freely
access the internet to merely watch a show and distribute that link to our
The plaintiff in the case thought that he had been wronged since he had spent
lots and lots of hard work in directing or making one play from production to
stage lighting to Dress costumes, Makeup of the artist and then there are apps
like Telegram or torrent which provide a feature called Search globally allowing
them to switch their VPN and watch other shows. so that they can stream their
favorite plays, movie, drama free of cost.
- Regulating the illegal sites on a weekly and monthly basis; it'll allow the
authorities to ban any new sites which come in light
- Making people aware of how hazardous these illegal sites can be
- Taking strict action against the owner of these illegal sites
We all wonder whose fault it is when any movie doesn't earn Good enough money or
when a play doesn't get the recognition that they deserve, there are a lot of
aspects to be blamed from People to lack of jurisdiction or Lack of regulatory
authorities. There is no solution to stop piracy it can only be limited or
deduced by applying the suggestion given.
Earlier any law to deal with
substantial similarity or piracy was not in the books of law; after the case of RG Anand a test to determine the test of substantial similarity was given by the
law and it plays a major role as it acted as a stepping stone concerning all
other cases dealing with piracy issues as well as substantial similarity issues.