I have come across numerous producers (corporate entities and individuals) in my two decades of traverse who are professional to the core in dealing with authors. This may be due to the family legacy or the stamp of reputation, which they carry within the film fraternity. But on other side there are formidable producers who always want to put the authors, performers, new artist etc. in suffering because of their own belief and financial muscle.
Many instances you all would have come across in the story reciting business. Producer likes the story with the concept and they will ask the writer (small or big) to sign it in the dotted lines, which are mostly on “work made for hire”. Prime-Facie reading will give the feeling that it’s some deal on white goods leasing and not of any author – producer relationship! Consciously, authors knows very well that without the help of the Producers their talent will never get blossomed and left with no option but to sign the one sided contract. The irony doesn’t cease at this point but issue worsens when a story writer who worked hard for years with his dreams to come up with an original story meet the producer and signs a contract with bang but later for (whatever) reasons for the delay , the said producer ;
First seals the fate of that author by not releasing it or disseminating the story that he has written; Secondly – the producer consequently releases some other film with the same story line ; Thirdly – on top of it , the producer doesn’t let the author to commercially utilise because the threat he gives that the author has signed a contract. Not last but the least – adds the clause specifically that Clause (4) and (5) of Section 19 of Copyright Act is not applicable.
This has put genuine film producers also in problem because they cannot have the portability option with the original author when the contract is existing. Therefore, in the given situation where does the law stands ??? Can the author ask to give back the story that he has given to the producer even though author has received his consideration from the producer ???
The answer is affirmative from legal standpoint on equity and law. Yes the author can terminate such contracts because Copyright statute provides so and this transaction is of intellectual property right not under the Sales of Goods Act !!! Authors can demand to return their story (subject to submission of facts they are facing) & they can give it to other genuine producers who can create history. And the provision that being referred herein is Section 57 of the Copyright Act 1957 which is based on Article 6 bis of the Berne Convention which confers on the author what are known as droit moral or moral rights as differentiated from the economic rights comprised in the copyright in a work.
One of the element of this special right is Paternity right or right to claim authorship of the work. These rights belong to the author independently of his economic rights even after he transfers his rights. Though we follow British model but surprisingly India went a step ahead of Britain by incorporating Section 57 thereby giving statutory recognition in a wider perspective conferring a special right upon the author of the work.
Substantiating this predicament , case law of Manu Bhandari v. Kala Vikas Pictures Pvt. Ltd AIR 1987 Delhi (13) being referred. This went into out of the court settlement which is the unfortunate part in most of the Copyright matters. However, on the request of the appellants Honourable Justice S B Wed delivered his judgement in the year 1987 covering the scope and applicability of Section 57 of the Copyright Act 1957 which has far reaching significance which is almost unknown to the authors. An attempt was made by the defendants to persuade the Court that restraint order injunction could not be given under Section 57.
What happened in this matter ? a detailed write up from trial court to the Judgement given by the superior court read with amendment of 2102 will be continued in the next blog……..