madras high court

Madras High Court: In a civil suit declaring that the film “Enthiran” is the infringing copy of the Aarur Tamilnadan’s story “Jugiba” and to direct S. Sankar to pay a sum of Rs.1,00,00,000/- to him, as damages, S Sounthar, J. has dismissed the suit and reiterated that copyright cannot be claimed over an idea or a concept. Further, directed Aarur Tamilnadan to pay the cost of suit to S. Sankar.


The present suit was filed by Aarur Tamilnadan seeking a declaration that he is the first owner of the copyright of the story “Enthiran” which was stolen/pirated from the original story “Jugiba” written and got published in April 1996. He also sought for injunction restraining S. Sankar from distributing, screening and exhibiting, infringing copy namely the feature film “Enthiran”. He also sought for preliminary decree directing S. Sankar to render true account of the profit earned by them by infringing the copyright of the Aarur Tamilnadan and for a final decree in favour of him for the amount of profits thus found to have been earned by S. Sankar.

After perusing the evidence, the Court said that there are number of dissimilarities between his story “Jugiba” and the story of S. Sankar’s film “Enthiran”. Aarur Tamilnadan himself admitted during evidence that S. Sankar had made additions to his story to suit the cinema audience. He also added that the concept of the story line in S.Sankar’s film “Enthiran” is based on his story “Jugiba”. The Court reiterated that nobody can claim any copyright over an idea or concept. The copyright can be claimed only in respect of the manner of expression of an idea or concept.

After placing reliance on R.G. Anand v. Delux Films, (1978) 4 SCC 118, the Court reiterated that there can be no copyright over an idea or concept. The Court said that both the movies are based on humanoid robots, however, Aarur Tamilnadan has admitted about the dissimilarities in the story line of S.Sankar’s film “Enthiran”, further the story of humanoid robot appeared to have been presented to audience by the defendants with a different expression.

Further, the Court said that when both the stories are based on the same idea, namely humanoid robot falling in love with a human being, similarities are bound to occur. The Court relied on RG Anand (‘supra’) , wherein it was held that it is for the Courts to determine, whether the Similarities are fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression.

The Court further said that Aarur Tamilnadan has not examined any independent witnesses to prove that the similarities in his story and the story of the S Sankar’s film “Enthiran” are so fundamental to make it as a literal imitation of Aarur Tamilnadan’s story. He could have examined independent witness, who had read his story and watched S. Sankar’s movie to establish that S. Sankar’s story is nothing but a literal imitation of his story. For the reason best known to Aarur Tamilnadan, he failed to examine any independent witnesses. Therefore, except for his testimony there is no evidence available on record to show that both the stories are the same.

The Court remarked that at the minimum, the Aarur Tamilnadan should have issued a notice to S. Sankar calling him to produce the story line or script of his story “Enthiran”. Aarur Tamilnadan has not made any such attempt to enable the Court to compare the story line. Thus, he is not entitled to any relief in this suit.

[Aarur Tamilnadan v S. Sankar , 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 3930, decided on 15-06-2023]

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