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Vir Das, Netflix among four booked for copyright infringement

The complainant is Ashwin Gidwani, a producer who is managing director of Ashwin Gidwani production private limited.

Vir Das (File photo)

Actor and stand-up comedian, Vir Das, OTT platform Netflix and two others have been booked by the Mumbai Police under the Copyright Act on a complaint from a producer who has alleged that the four violated a 2010 agreement related to a script and show named, “History of India VIRitten (2010)” by using concept and content from the show for a new one named, “Virdas for India”. Netflix has been booked allegedly because they aired the show in 2020.

The Indian Express reached out to Das and Netflix but did not get their comments till the time of going to press. The comedian has been in the news this week after Right-wing group Janajagruthi Vedike urged the Bengaluru police to cancel permission given to his stand-up comedy show in the city because Das allegedly passed derogatory remarks against women, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India at a show at the John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC last November, which “denigrated the nation”, the outfit added. The actor has also been criticized in Gujarat by Vadodra unit of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), he Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliated student wing, who gave complaint to the district collector in June this year asking his show to be cancelled in the state over the same reason cited in Bengaluru.

In the copyright infringement allegations, an FIR has been registered by the Cuffe Parade police station on November 4 under sections 51 (copyright infringed) and 63 (Offences of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by this Act) of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1957 against Vir Das, Anurag Shrivastav, Girish Talwar- all three directors of “Weirdas Comedy private ltd” and Netflix Entertainment Services India LLPLoS Gatos Production services.

The complainant is Ashwin Gidwani, a producer who is managing director of Ashwin Gidwani production private limited. In his complaint, Gidwani alleged on 14th October in 2010, he and Vir Das entered an agreement to do a script and a show together which was named, “History of India VIRitten (2010)”.

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Gidwani alleged he had all the copyrights pertaining to the script and the show. This show became a hit in India and overseas as per Gidwani. After the show’s success Das in 2019 April over emails had discussions with Gidwani about releasing the show on Netflix with minor changes.

For some reason Gidwani and Das had disagreements over releasing the show on Netflix. Gidwani later learnt that Das created a new show named, “Virdas for India” taking ideas and parts from the old show named, “History of India VIRitten (2010)”.

On 23rd January 2020, Gidwani saw a promotional video of the show “Virdas for India” being aired on Netflix, where Das had used concept and content from, “History of India VIRitten (2010)” Same day, Gidwani gave a legal notice to Netflix and Das. Next day he received a reply from them that there is no copyright infringement. On 26th January 2020, the show was released on Netflix.

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On 30th January 2020, Gidwani gave a complaint to Marine Drive police station which was forwarded to Cuffe Parade police station. Gidwani followed up on the issue a few days ago and again gave a fresh complaint to a senior police officer after which the FIR was registered.

Gidwani said – Das, Anurag Shrivastav, Girish Talwar- all three directors of “Weirdas Comedy private ltd” made a contract with Netflix which is in violation of the 2010 contract between Das and Gidwani. Netflix has been booked for airing the show despite the legal notice. Gidwani as proof has submitted the video of the shows and email communications with Das and the legal notice served to Netflix.

First published on: 07-11-2022 at 20:30 IST
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