Warners. tries to prevent unauthorized remake

Bollywood producers used to “borrowing” from foreign films are being put on notice by Warner Bros.

The studio ran an ad in local newspapers last week warning anyone looking to remake “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” that it would take legal action.

Given India’s historic disregard for copyright issues, however, it’s hard to see such warnings having much deterrent value.

One of Bollywood’s biggest hits last year was Aamir Khan starrer “Ghajini,” a remake of “Memento” with song-and-dance routines thrown in. Director Murugadoss said the pic was simply a copy of his own Tamil film of the same name, despite having many similarities to “Memento.”

And Indian courts have not typically backed foreign rights holders in their legal claims. Barbara Taylor Bradford tried in 2003 to block a TV serial that borrowed heavily from her novel “A Woman of Substance” but lost in the local courts.

But inroads, however small, are being made.

Chander Lall, managing partner of the law office of Lall and Sethi and head of the Indian antipiracy unit of the Motion Picture Assn., says a studio warning scared off local producers planning an unauthorized remake of “The Departed.”

And, says a local Warner Bros. rep, the major studios need to maintain their vigilance.

“Warner Bros. has made a long-term commitment to the film industry in India and is determined to defend and protect the intellectual property rights in its movies. We took the step of publishing a notice regarding the possible unauthorized remake of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ as part of that rigorous defense of our rights and to ensure that the filmgoing public in India experience our movies in the way they were intended.”

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