Copyright Law: Play/performance made out of another's idea
I am a freelance journalist and part-time writer. I had written a short story which I narrated to my friend. She is a choreographer. She has now gone ahead and made a performance based on the short story through a mixture of narrative and dancing acts. The script of the performance and characters are almost the same as my story. What do I do? Do I have any recourse against her in law considering her work is on a different medium from mine?
You can utilize the concept of ‘plagiarism’ to take action against her. Plagiarism is ‘the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.’ Since, her performance involved copying of your authored short story; it would amount to both copyright infringement under S. 51 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 and the violation of the ‘special right’ credited to the author under S. 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957.
S. 14 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 provides you the exclusive right to reproduce your literary work, i.e., your short story in this case. As stated by you, since your friend used your story, though in a different manner or medium, but in a way that the viewers could identify it to be a copy of your story, as the script was almost the same as your story, without your consent, it can be rightly assumed that you had not granted license to publish the same. Your friend, thus, has infringed your copyright, under S. 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957, by publishing your short story, which was an exclusive right provided to you by the act.
Also, by not acclaiming due credit to your authorship in the performance, she is liable under S. 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, whereby you can claim your authorship for the short story, forming the basis of your friend’s performance.
You can either pursue a civil case against your friend for an injunction order and can also claim damages under S. 55 of the Copyright Act, 1957; or you can file criminal proceedings for plagiarism and infringement of your copyright under S. 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.
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