The Bombay high court today (November 15) passed a temporary order restraining Saregama India Ltd. from infringing the copyright of Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. in Disco Dancer. Although the interim order extends to performance of the stage play Disco Dancer – The Musical by Saregama, the court clarified that the ad interim relief granted to Shemaroo would not affect the planned staging of the musical at a theatre in London from November 16.
Granting ad interim relief to the plaintiff, Justice Manish Pitale observed that prima facie the intellectual property rights and other theatrical rights of the film were assigned to Shemaroo by producer B. Subhash in 2011, prior to a 2019 agreement cited by Shemaroo.
Shemaroo claimed that B. Subhash assigned the rights of 12 of his films to it, Disco Dancer being one of them. It filed a suit and an application seeking interim relief claiming rights in Disco Dancer as per agreement dated November 11, 2011. Shemaroo claimed that the musical stage play titled Disco Dancer – The Musical was based on the film, rights for which were held by Shemaroo. On its part, Saregama submitted that it had acquired rights from Gramophone Company with which company the producer had signed an agreement in 1982, adding that Shemaroo’s 2011 agreement was only for making of a film, not for a musical or drama.
The court found that the 1982 and 2010 agreements cited by Saregama prima facie related to recordings of performances of musical nature and sound tracks. Significantly, the third and final agreement cited by Saregama was signed in 2019 after Shemaroo’s 2011 agreement. The court also took exception to Saregama’s conduct of not tendering copies of the earlier agreements to Shemaroo or the court in advance. It felt, the plaintiff (Shemaroo) had made out a strong prima facie case in its favour.
While granting the ad interim relief to Shemaroo, the HC refused to restrain Saregama from staging the London musical noting that Rs. 4.3 crore in production cost was spent on the event, the theatre was booked, artistes had rehearsed and reached London, and hence granting an order restraining Saregama from staging the musical from November 16 for four days in a row in London may not be appropriate. The court directed Saregama and others to file their affidavits in reply and listed the matter for hearing on January 9, 2023. It also directed that the entire collections from the London musical must be deposited in court within two weeks of staging such shows.