In an interesting turn of events Delhi High Court allowed organizers of "Durga Puja", a hindu festival, to use images from the best-seller, Harry Potter, created by J.K. Rowling.

The organizers were sued for compensation amounting to two million rupees for copyright infringement, however, the Court citing insufficient time to withdraw or amend the Harry Potter elements linked with the festivities due to falling of the festival in a weeks time, rejected the infringement claim but with a stern warning that the use of the copyrighted images would be a one time affair only and any attempt to replicate this action in future would demand a permission and authorization from the copyright holders.

The claim for compensation was also rejected on the ground of the festival "Durga Puja" being a public purpose and that a claim could not be made on a public purpose.

It was in the air that the suit was prompted because of the legal advice that the "Durga Puja" was a commercially organized event which, was selling 40 to 50 stalls at a cost of $600 each and banner advertisements at a cost of $250 each to local and internationally recognized companies.

The Copyright holders of the Harry Potter and related images has guidelines specifically to help non-profit and charitable organizations to run Harry Potter themed events, but organizations who tend to gain commercially from the use of Harry Potter brands are not doled out this privilege.

The intellectual property dispute resolution savvy ness of the adjudicator not only saved a group of people coming together to celebrate a festival in a unique style, from a protracted legal battle but also sheds light on the value of intellectual property. Ultimately the injunction went in favour of the copyright holders in recognition of the court that such usage of the copyrighted work cannot proceed without the permission of the copyright holder, which should have been obtained.

In the past also Mumbai High Court directed hotels to pay towards copyright license fee for playing music in the new-year parties organized by them where an entry fee was charged. Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), a copyright society registered under the Copyrights Act, which took the hotels to court for failing to pay copyright license fees. PPL is the sole authority to administer the broadcasting, telecasting and public performance rights and to collect licence fees on behalf of the music industry.

To turn the focus on the law; Copyright is a bundle of rights including inter alia rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the 'work'. Work in copyright law corresponds to original literary, dramatic, musical & artistic works and also cinematograph films and sound recordings. The copyright law protects these rights but in cases of 'fair deal' provides for exceptions under which others can use the copyrighted protected work under authorization.

© Lex Orbis 2008

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