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Maulvi Omar Ali Barlashkar Vs. Jnan Ranjan Mitra - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Judge
Reported in163Ind.Cas.576
AppellantMaulvi Omar Ali Barlashkar
RespondentJnan Ranjan Mitra
Cases ReferredMohim Mohan Singh v. Sitanath Basak
Excerpt:
copyright - infringement of--when constituted--books like elementary geography, held was bound to be similar and contain common information. - .....has no copyright therein. learned advocate for the respondent has, endeavoured to show that the learned judges view on this matter, is not correct, but we are not prepared to take any different view.3. the learned judge, however, has held that as regards certain passages which he has specified in his judgment, they are very similar as they appear in the two books, the correspondences are too many and too striking to be attributable to chance or to community of subject-matter or to reminiscences unconsciously left in the authors mind from the studies he had made or the information i.e., has collected. in as much as the defendant admitted that he had read the plaintiff's book before writing his own and also because it is apparent that the defendant had written his book with the.....
Judgment:

1. The plaintiff alleging that the defendant has in publishing a book named Bhugal Sopan, committed piracy of the general plan, arrangement, style and contents-of his book entitled Prathamic Bhuparichaya, 4th edition, instituted this suit for injunction and other reliefs on the ground of infringement of copyright. The defences taken were the usual defences open in actions of this character.

2. The Subordinate Judge held that though the plaintiff's book is a compilation and not an original work in the sense of originality of thought, research or investigation, was yet a work which bears his own characteristic stamp or impress by reason of the fact that he has put into it his own labour, skill and intelligence and so an element of originality of workmanship, expression, method and arrangement. He held, therefore, that the plaintiff has copyright in his book. He held, however, that the general plan, style and arrangement with regard to elementary treatises of this character intended for beginners, which, it may be said, have to conform to such skeleton standard or curriculum as has been fixed by the Educational Authorities, must be more or less the same when the books relate to the same subject; and that all authors who desire to train up young minds must necessarily follow the inductive method which rises from the particular to the general, from individual units to composite bodies, from, simple ideas and, conceptions to complex entities; and though in both the books the, general scheme of distribution of the relevant information, under certain natural and specific heads was very much the same and the treatment ' as regards the Surma Valley for which each of the books were primarily intended to serve as a text-book was somewhat special and elaborate compared with countries outside that valley, the defendant's book in so for as it is written in ; a much simpler style, and is embellished, with numerous maps and displays a more attractive typography and possesses a far better get-up. He has on a very careful consideration of all these matters recorded his view that in such circumstances, so far as the general plan, style and arrangement is concerned, the plaintiff has no copyright therein. Learned Advocate for the respondent has, endeavoured to show that the learned Judges view on this matter, is not correct, but we are not prepared to take any different view.

3. The learned Judge, however, has held that as regards certain passages which he has specified in his judgment, they are very similar as they appear in the two books, the correspondences are too many and too striking to be attributable to chance or to community of subject-matter or to reminiscences unconsciously left in the authors mind from the studies he had made or the information i.e., has collected. In as much as the defendant admitted that he had read the plaintiff's book before writing his own and also because it is apparent that the defendant had written his book with the deliberate object of making it an improvement on the plaintiff's book and so must have had the plaintiff's book before him when writing his own, the learned Judge has come to the conclusion that in respect of those passages the plaintiff has committed plagiarism, lifting or appropriating to his own use phrases and statements from the plaintiff's book without taking the trouble to frame them or put them together by independent thinking and enquiry. In this view of the matter the learned Judge has made a decree in plaintiff's favour which runs thus:

The suit is decreed modifiedly and plaintiff's copyright is found to have been infringed to a limited extent, vie., to the extent of the passages specified below, and plaintiff is allowed Hs. 10 as damages, and defendant is called upon to remove all traces of actual copying or colourable imitation from the said passages in any future edition of his book that he may publish. Considering all things, plaintiff will got his full costs from the defendant.

The passages in question are Nos. 1--6 generally, and 4 and 5 in particular, 11--14, 20, 21, 22, 45 46, 48 and 54-57 of the list filed by the plaintiff, but as these passages are to be found in the original books. I mean the fourth edition of plaintiff's book and the first edition of defendant's. Except as provided above, plaintiff's claim to other reliefs is rejected.

4. The principles of the law as regards this part of the case have been explained in the decision of this Court in the case of Mohim Mohan Singh v. Sitanath Basak 34 C.W.N. 540 : 126 Ind. Cas. 197 : 51 C.L.J. 243 Ind. Rul. (1930) Cal. 693. If the defendant, who undoubtedly is at liberty to draw upon common sources of information, saved himself the trouble and labour requisite for collecting that information by adopting the plaintiff's work with colourable variation, he has been guilty of infringement of plaintiff's copyright even though the. plaintiff's work is based on materials which are common property. Taking the book as a whole that can hardly be said; for the book, being a book on Elementary Geography, cannot but give the same in formations which are to be found in all such books on the subject The materials, unless the book is Intended to contain incorrect, inadequate or incomplete information, must necessarily be the same. In the passages that have been condemned by the learned Judge, there is undoubtedly considerable similarity in many of them, the same or similar words have been used and, the ideas have been expressed in the same or similar manner. But these passages are very few in number. The defendant had to express himself in the best possible manner suited to his readers, and so he could not possibly avoid the similarity. He was not bound to be unhappy in his choice of expressions, only to avoid resemblances; and it was open to him to adopt words and expressions even though the plaintiff may have used them before, so long as he did not in fact intend his book to resemble the plaintiff's book, or so long as such words or expressions were not of the plaintiff's coinage. It is true that in a few passages out of those condemned by the learned Judge the coincidences are so great that there is no room for doubting that the defendant owed them to the plaintiff's book. But in borrowing them it is far from clear that the defendant was aiming at a resemblance or that a colourable imitation has been produced. In cases of this nature, it is not merely one or two passages here and there that count: it is the general impression that is left on one's mind that is to be regarded.

5. On the whole, we are unable to hold that the defendant in using the condemned passages has brought himself within the mischief of any of these principles which the plaintiff might legitimately invoke in support of his case.

6. We allow the appeal, and setting aside the decision of the learned Judge order that the plaintiff's suit be dismissed. Our order is that in this litigation each party will bear his own costs.


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