The gloves are off in the long-standing Bollywood vs. Hollywood plagiarism issue.
The producers of a Hindi film that 20th Century Fox alleges is a copy of Joel Schumacher’s 2002 feature “Phone Booth” must deposit rupees 15 million ($340,000) with the Bombay High Court in order for it to be released today.
A judge watched both films and concluded that Sohail Maklai Entertainment’s “Knock Out,” directed by Mani Shankar, infringed Fox’s copyright.
However, upon appeal, the court said Thursday since “Knock Out” was publicized at the IIFA awards in June 5 the case could have been filed earlier. Because of that, the court granted 20th the injunction preventing release until Sohail Maklai Entertainment paid the funds to the bank. That is expected to happen today as distrib Eros has prints ready to go to cinemas across the world.
If an appeals court confirms the principal court’s infringement decision, the $340,000 will be paid to Fox. The producers will also have to maintain accounts of the film’s profits and the appeal will be heard in detail in January.
The film is expected to take in more than $340,000 at the box office as it’s toplined by Sanjay Dutt, a major Bollywood star.
The judgment marks the first time that an Indian court has ruled that Bollywood infringed a Hollywood copyright. While Hollywood sometimes has looked the other way when Hindi filmmakers have ripped off the stories of films ranging from “Patch Adams” to “Memento,” the majors and IP holders have also fought plagiarism.
In 2003, author Barbara Taylor Bradford sued Sahara Television, claiming that its skein “Karishma — the Miracles of Destiny” was based on her “Woman of Substance” novel. However, after several injunctions against broadcast, the court did not find sufficient similarities between the two.
In 2008, a court did not find a resemblance between the title of Mirchi Movies’ “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors” and Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” franchise. And Fox was not successful in its suit accusing Zee Telefilms of plagiarizing “24” as “Time Bomb.”
However, when 20th took BR Films to court stating that its “Banda yeh bindaas hai” was lifted from “My Cousin Vinny,” BR Films settled out of court for $200,000.
And WB had better luck when it sent cease and desist letters to Vipul Shah over reports he would remake “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”