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FPJ Legal: There can't be copyright on idea, but confidentiality, says Bombay High Court

09:52 PM Oct 25, 2021 | Narsi Benwal

Observing that there cannot be any copyright on an idea but it can be confidential, the Bombay High Court last week refused to stay the release of a Marathi film titled - Zombivali. The HC said no one can claim any right on an idea but can claim confidentiality.

A bench of Justice Gautam Patel was hearing a plea filed by a small-time writer, who claimed that Saregama India Ltd. allegedly used his original idea without his permission and made a film out of it.

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The film-makers, however, contended that they didn't stole the writer's story idea and had in fact made their film based on another writer's script.

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Noting the contentions, Justice Patel said, "Breach of confidentiality and copyright infringement are closely tied. The former is frequently claimed for matters that cannot be the subject of copyright infringement. An idea, in particular, cannot be the subject of a copyright infringement action; but it may be the subject of breach of confidentiality. Either may yield a broadly similar injunction."

"In certain circumstances, a claim may fall under both causes of action — copyright infringement and breach of confidence," the judge said, adding, "But the present case on breach of confidence is separated from its case on copyright infringement, for the writer's claim is that the idea was communicated in circumstances of confidence to Saregama, and that idea could not have been used by Saregama without his permission or license."

"An obligation of confidence arises when confidential information is shared in circumstances where he has notice, explicit or implicit, or must be held to have agreed, that the info is indeed confidential. That person would then be restrained from using or disclosing this confidential information without the permission or license of the person who shared it," the court said.

"Therefore, the ‘confidential information’ — that which is not in the public domain — must be accurately and specifically identified, and protection must be sought only in respect of that. A generalized statement is never enough," Justice Patel said, while dismissing the writer's plea.

Also Read: FPJ Legal: NCB to move Bombay HC seeking cancellation of Nawab Malik's son-in-law Sameer Khan's bail in drug case

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