Satyajit Ray has won Copyright for his film Nayak The Hero (image: Criterion Cinema/Twitter)
The family of Satyajit Ray on Wednesday hailed the Delhi High Court order recognising the film maestro as the first copyright owner for his film ‘Nayak’ as a “welcome development” in the field of rights over creative content.
Ray’s filmmaker son Sandip Ray when contacted told PTI that he considers the verdict as a vindication of his father’s rights over his own creative content.
“The court’s order is a welcome development,” he said.
To another question, he said the order will help in bolstering the creative rights of a filmmaker or a writer on his/her works and help in resolving future disputes.
Ray, a master storyteller, had composed, wrote and directed the 1966 Bengali film, which was produced by R D Bansal. It was his second entirely original screen play after ‘Kanchejungha’.
Lolita Ray, the daughter-in-law of the legendary filmmaker and a member of Sandip Ray’s production unit, told PTI that the family is happy with the court’s order that the right of screenplay be vested in the maestro’s son after his death.
Justice C Hari Shankar of Delhi HC in his order on Tuesday said being the author, Ray was the first owner of the copyright to the screenplay and the right to novelise it is also vested in him.
The later conferment of this right by his son and the Society for Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives (SPSRA) on a third party was “wholly in order,” it said.
The HC rejected an assertion by the family of the film’s producer R D Bansal that the copyright of the film as well as the screenplay belonged to them and said they have no right to injunct the “novelisation of the screenplay” by third parties.
The plaintiff family in its lawsuit had maintained that Satyajit Ray was commissioned by R D Bansal to write the screenplay of ‘Nayak’ and to direct the film and the “novelisation of the screenplay” by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay and its publication by the defendant HarperCollins Publishers India was contrary to the Copyrights Act.
The court observed also that there is no dispute that the screenplay of the film was “entirely the work of Satyajit Ray” and the producer “has contributed no part”.
Harper Collins brought out the English paperback edition of ‘Nayak The Hero’ in 2018 based on the screenplay of the classic Bengali film. The novelising part was executed by writer Bhaskar Chattopadhyay.
The court order said the Copyright Act clearly envisages that a copyright in a cinematograph film is distinct and different from a copyright in any literary work which may be a part of the film.
“The assignment of the right to novelize the screenplay of the film ‘Nayak’ by Sandip Ray and the SPSRA, in favour of the defendant is, therefore, wholly in order and in accordance with the provisions of the Act. On the other hand, the assertion, by the plaintiff, of the copyright in the screenplay of the film ‘Nayak’ is unsupported by any provision in the Act,” the court ruled.