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Updated on: Thursday, June 10, 2021, 11:21 PM IST

No posthumous publicity right: Delhi HC squashes SSR's father's plea to stay movie based on late actor

Sushant Singh Rajput |

Sushant Singh Rajput |

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday declined to stay the release of the movie "Nyay: The Justice", purportedly based on the life of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, and scheduled for release on Friday.

A bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed an application filed by Sushant's father, Krishna Kishore Singh, against the movie and other ventures that are using his son's name or likeness in the form of a biopic or story.

The court noted Rajput's father had claimed the deceased celebrity has a posthumous publicity right. In this context, it said that there was no doubt that a limited class of celebrity rights are protected as intellectual property rights under applicable laws, and could survive the death of the celebrity, but privacy was not among them.

It held that the right of privacy of an individual cannot be inherited after his death by his legal heirs and that reputation or privacy enjoyed by a person comes to an end after his lifetime

The court observed the events that form the subject matter of the film are in the public sphere, and it does not find any justification to restrain publication of work claiming to be fictional, which draws inspiration from such events.

"Since the defendants' films are neither portrayed as a biopic, nor a factual narration of what transpired in the life of SSR and are depicted to be complete fictional and inspired from certain events which have occurred in the past and have been widely discussed and are available in public domain, the court finds no reason to grant a restraining order," said the court.

The court noted that the suit was filed close to the release of the film, after substantial time, money and effort have been expended by movie makers on production and promotion. "For this reason, the balance of convenience lies entirely in favour of the defendants," it said.

The court observed the fictional rendition based on certain events falls within the scope of artistic freedom of expression and speech. As long as the celeb’s name was not used and a disclaimer was published along with the movie, the filmmakers cannot be disallowed from making a movie based on such events, it said.

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Published on: Thursday, June 10, 2021, 11:21 PM IST
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