A copyright is a sort of IPR that grants its owner the sole authority to “reproduce, transmit, adapt, exhibit, and perform” a creative work, although it is for certain period only. The list of creative work has a wide range which includes “musical, artistic, educational, and literary”. The copyright infringement cases are the new normal in the creative world, especially when it comes to Bollywood. There are numerous instances when a Bollywood movie is alleged to be copied from any other industry movie. There exists a trail of such movies, and one of them is Baaghi. A movie, Baaghi, has to face the music soon after the launch of trailer. The movie was alleged to be copied of an Indonesian movie, “The Raid: Redemption”.
BACKGROUND AND FACTS: THE DOPESHEET
XYZ Films was the production house of the Indonesian movie, “The Raid: Redemption”, whereas UTV was the production house of the Bollywood movie, “Baaghi”. In the impugned matter, XYZ Films and two others were the plaintiff, and the UTV was the defendant. The plaintiffs came before the court to complain against the UTV Motion Pictures for copyright infringement. They contended that the last twenty minutes of "Baaghi" had copied the whole of their movie, "The Raid: Redemption". Considering the similarity, they filed a claim for copyright infringement against the UTV motion picture. This gave way to the case of “XYZ Films v. UTV Motion Picture”.
BAAGHI V. THE RAID OF REDEMPTION
Baaghi is a Hindi language romantic action thriller movie. The film revolves around Ronny and Sia who meet on a train journey. Ronny, who is the protagonist in the movie, is a rebel. Consequently, his father asks him to leave Kerala. There he learns a form of martial art, "Kalariypayattu". He met Sia on a train and fell in love. In the meantime, Sudheer Babu also becomes infatuated with Shraddha Kapoor after catching her eye. He kidnapped her. There comes the controversial action of the movie where Ronny fights against the antagonist to save Sia. In the scene, Ronny has to infiltrate a high rise building to save Sia which was alleged to be copied from the Indonesian movie. He has to fight against the goons of antagonist on each floor to get to Sia.
On the other hand, “The Raid of Redemption” is an Indonesian action thriller movie. In the movie, Rama, a rookie team member, is one of an elite group assigned to enter a tall structure. A ruthless drug dealer governs this building in Jakarta. A gang of police officers enter a tall, multi-story skyscraper in the movie to take down the criminal from the 15th floor down. The police team must beat criminals on every floor of the building to get to him, especially two of his most dependable and trustworthy goons. The plaintiff claimed that Baaghi plagiarised this idea, which is exclusive to the movie
The action sequence of the movie, “Baaghi” which lasted for 20 minutes found a lot of similarities with the action sequence of the movie “The Raid of Redemption”. There is undoubtedly a similarity in the expression of an idea. As a result, the creators of the latter claimed that the final 20 minutes of Baaghi have the same concept as their film.
THE BAAGHI COPYRIGHT CASE UPON THE ANVIL OF KERNEL ASSESSMENT TEST
The “kernel assessment test” revolves around the dominant feature of the work. The test evaluates how the infringing element will affect the remaining portions of the work. If the work can be understood without it, there hasn't been a copyright violation. However, if the copied part is so essential to the whole thing that removing it, would render the remainder of the work irrelevant, then there has been a copyright violation. This test of kernel assessment came into the world in the case “Zee Telefilms Limited v Sundial Communications Private Limited.”
The copyright infringement case gets tilted towards UTV Motion Pictures in the light of “kernel assessment test”. In the movie, the setting of the villain was not so essential as if he had been placed somewhere else and the final fight sequence would have happened there instead of a multi-story building, it would not have made any significant alteration to the movie. The fight sequence doesn't form the kernel of the movie. After all, the final 20 minutes of the movie weren’t so crucial to its plot that if they hadn't been included, the remainder wouldn't have made sense. Therefore, the UTV Motion Pictures can't be held liable for the copyright infringement since the fight sequence of the movie "Baaghi" is not its kernel. The last 20 minutes were ancillary to the main and central storyline.
Furthermore, the copyright infringement is determined upon the anvil of the quality of the copied work rather than its quantity. This outlook is evidently opined in the case of “Twentieth Century for Film Corporation v Sohail Maklai Entertainment Private Limited.”
Therefore, despite the fact that the final 20 minutes of “Baaghi” is allegedly infringing copyright, it would not alter the scenario.
The Judgment of the Court: A Clean chit to “Baaghi”
The judgment of the case was no surprise. The court also found "Baaghi" passed the "kernel assessment test". The Court held that it is difficult to say that the battle scene in the final 20 minutes of Baaghi is its “kernel”. In reality, the “kernel” of Baaghi was responsible for defending one's love in the face of all opposition. No such theme is hinted at in "The Raid: Redemption". It was opined that the concept of a protagonist battling an antagonist on the top of the floor of a building is very common and general and thus, it cannot be safeguarded.
Copyright infringement cases are the new normal in the creative world, especially when it comes to Bollywood. There are numerous instances when a Bollywood movie is alleged to be copied from any other industry movie. One of them is a claim for copyright infringement against the UTV motion picture for “Baaghi” by XYZ Films for copying their work, “The Raid of Redemption”. However, the petitioner got no relief from the court as the “Baaghi” was given a clean chit in the light of the “kernel assessment test”. After all, the copied part has to be so essential to the whole thing, that removing it, would render the remainder of the work irrelevant, then only there would be a copyright violation. This was not the case with “Baaghi”. It was very much evident that the Baaghi was passing the "kernel assessment test" comfortably.