Observing that there cannot be any copyright on an idea but it can be confidential, the Bombay High Court last week observed, while refusing to stay the release of a Marathi film titled ‘Zombivali’.
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.
The film-makers, however, contended that they didn't steal the writer's story idea and had in fact made their film based on another writer's script.
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."
The judge observed that in certain circumstances, a claim may fall under both causes of action – copyright infringement and breach of confidence. He further noted, “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."
The court said 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," Justice Patel said while dismissing the plea.
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