The High Court of Gujarat, in the case of Maheshbhai @ Kanbhai Haribhai Sojitra v. State of Gujarat, CR.M.A. 8581 of 2022, held that no infringement is committed when the person is holding a certificate issued by the Registrar of Copyright.
Maheshbhai @ Kanbhai Haribhai Sojitra (hereinafter referred to as the “Applicant”) and Bharatbhai Lakhabhai Andani (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent”) belong to the same field of business. A First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as “FIR”) was filed by the Respondent against the Applicant for the offence of copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”).
Hence vide the present application, the Applicant sought to quash the FIR on the ground that he has the Certificate of Registration of copyright issued to him by the Registrar of the Copyright (hereinafter referred to as “Registrar”), and thereby did not infringe upon any copyright.
ISSUES BEFORE THE HIGH COURT
- Whether the FIR filed by the Respondent is valid?
- Whether the Applicant being a bona fide certificate holder, be said to have committed copyright infringement?
CONTENTION OF THE PARTIES
The Applicant claimed that the impugned FIR is nothing but sheer abuse of the process of law. The Applicant submitted that the impugned FIR is filed by the Respondent with the underlying motive of ousting the Applicant from the business.
The Applicant produced the certificate of registration issued by the Registrar and relied on Section 51 of the Act wherein it is stated that if any person, without a license granted by the owner of the copyright or the Registrar under the said Act does anything sans the exclusive right to do so, then such an act would amount to infringement.
In light of the forgoing, the Applicant submitted that since the Applicant is in receipt of the Certificate of Registration, which makes the Applicant a bona fide owner of the copyright, it cannot be said that the Applicant has committed copyright infringement.
The Applicant contended that in order to put undue pressure on the Applicant, the Respondent chose to initiate criminal proceedings before initiating any civil litigation and thereby invoked Section 64 of the Act in the FIR.
On the contrary, the Respondent opposed the present Application by referring to Sections 44, 45, 51, 63, and 64 of the Act, and relied upon the case of M/s. Knit Pro International v. the State of NCT of Delhi (CRA 807 of 2022), Sirajudheen v. the State of Kerala (CrMC.No.6577 of 2018), Asian Paints (I) Ltd. v. Jaikishan Paints and Allied Products (Suit No.3963 of 2001) and K.C. Bokadia and others v. Dinesh Chandra Dubey (M. Cri. Case No.3798 of 1991).
DECISION AND FINDINGS
The Gujarat High Court (hereinafter referred to as the “High Court”) referred to Section 51 of the Act and held that as in the present case the Applicant is a bona fide holder of the Certificate of Registration issued by the Registrar, therefore it does not amount to infringement.
The High Court further observed that invocation of Section 64 of the Act by the police in the FIR is an erroneous act by the police which portrays nothing but non-application of mind. According to the High Court, the Act does not constitute an offence but rather grants the police or investigating officer the authority to collect material in the event of an infringement for which an FIR cannot be filed.
In view of the foregoing observations, the High Court granted interim relief to the Applicant and granted permission to the Applicant to withdraw the present Application as the same became infructuous.
The filing of an FIR is crucial since it sets the criminal proceedings in motion and any error in the same would invalidate the criminal proceeding.
In the present case, the High Court observed the essential elements of Section 64 of the Act and held that it is pivotal to satisfy all the necessary ingredients under Section 51 of the Act in order to begin criminal proceedings for copyright infringement.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the Certificate of Registration of copyright issued by the Registrar gives the right of exclusivity to the certificate holder and it wouldn’t amount to copyright infringement.
-Team AMLEGALS, assisted by Ms. Prakhya Shah (Intern)
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