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Copyright case: Zee Entertainment to postpone launch of ‘Baal Shiv’ TV series till Sept 15

Saying that he was the first to conceptualise the idea, writer Chotenlal Saini had moved the Bombay HC seeking to restrain the broadcaster from airing the series

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
August 27, 2021 8:28:10 pm
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) (File Photo)

Broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd told the Bombay High Court Friday that it will not launch the television series ‘Baal Shiv – Mahadev ki Andekhi Gaatha’ till September 15 in the wake of a copyright infringement suit filed against it by writer and mythologist Chotenlal Saini.

A single judge bench of Justice Gautam S Patel was hearing the interim plea filed by Saini against Zee Entertainment in connection with the television series which was scheduled to start airing from August 31. Saini had sought an injunction order to restrain the broadcaster from releasing the TV serial, saying that he was the first to conceptualise the idea of ‘Baal Shiv’ as a serial.

“On specific instructions, the Zee Entertainment agrees that without prejudice to its rights and contentions, defendants will reschedule the launch of their TV show until September 15. Statement noted and accepted. The defendants will be entitled to continue with promos and teasers with rescheduled date with rival contentions not being affected. Whether or not the defendant to telecast the show will depend on the order that will be passed on interim application,” the HC order read.

The court has allowed Zee Entertainment to continue airing promos and teasers of the series that expressly mention its rescheduled launch date.

Saini said he had communicated his idea to representatives of the defendant company, who then lifted the detailed story that was narrated for producing the series. After Zee Entertainment showed no interest in producing the serial despite repeated narrations, he approached other channels and also registered the title under the Trademarks Act.

Later, on finding that Zee Entertainment had allegedly “breached confidentiality” when the channel announced the release of the serial, Saini approached the high court.

He alleged that the Zee series, with a “nearly identical name” has “substantial reproduction and adaptation of his original literary work” and, therefore, he deserved relief from the court.

Representing the broadcaster, senior advocate Virag Tulzapurkar and advocate Hiren Kamod denied the allegations and opposed Saini’s interim plea. Tulzapurkar submitted that Saini could not have concluded that his entire work has been plagiarised based on a 40-50 second teaser and added that the concept of ‘Baal Shiv’ was not novel as claimed but has previously been used in various films and TV shows, one of which the defendants had been a part of.

Tulzapurkar sought rejection of Saini’s plea saying that episodes to be aired over a span of three months have been readied, whereas Saini’s concept was not even communicated.

On behalf of Saini, senior counsels Venkatesh Dhond and Birendra Saraf said that during his meetings with Zee Entertainment, the firm had encouraged Saini’s idea and based on that he had started to conceptualise it.

Accepting Dhond’s request, the court said Saini deserved an opportunity to view the show and make his submissions during the next hearing. It asked Zee Entertainment to screen the first 10 episodes of the serial for Saini and his advocate by September 1 on premises indicated by the defendant.

The HC added that Saini must not disclose any information on the content that will be shown to him. “It goes without saying that the plaintiff must not record or videotape the episodes,” the judge said.

Seeking an affidavit in response from Zee Entertainment by September 4 and a rejoinder by Saini by September 8, the high court posted the matter for further hearing on September 15.

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