The Bombay high court, in a verdict on the ZEE TV versus STAR TV battle over the latter’s music show ‘Antakshari The Great Challenge’, restrained STAR from “passing off” its popular programme as the original ‘Antakshari’.

The court, however, held that there was no violation of copyright by STAR as charged by ZEE and that the word ‘Antakshari’ could be used by STAR in its show. In other words, the show may have to change its format. The order has been stayed till 4th November to enable Star to go in appeal before a division bench. This means the show can continue on air as it is.

The legal song and dance was initiated by ZEE Entertainment earlier this year against STAR and programme director Gajendra Singh for allegedly violating its copyright over the show and for coming up with a similar concept note. ZEE’s ‘Antakshari’ show was also conceptualised and directed by Singh who was the channel’s programme director until last year.

ZEE, through its counsel Janak Dwarkadas, had raised several issues including saying that a concept note could be treated as a ‘literary work’ and had copyright value under the law. He also argued that given ZEE ‘Antakshari’s’ popularityit ran for ten years and is mentioned in the Limca Book of World Records as the longest running show by one directorStar, by calling its show ‘Antakshari – The Great Challenge’, was trying to “pass off” the show as the original ‘Antakshari’.

Justice Shiavax Vazifdar of the Bombay high court while deciding the suit came to three conclusive findings. He held that the existence of the ‘concept note’ has not been established by ZEE and thus there’s been no infringement of copyright by STAR or Gajendra Singh. The judge also held that there was no infringement of cinematography of ZEE’s original show by STAR. The court, however, noted that Singh had been an employee of ZEE and not an independent producer/director for the show.

Sameer Rao, Vice-president, STAR, had opposed all claims made by ZEE and in an affidavit filed in court stated that its show was completely different from that of ZEE. He denied that ZEE could claim any “proprietary rights” with respect to the word ‘Antakshari’ in connection with a television game show based on the traditional antakshari.

He also denied that ZEE had any copyright over the show or any alleged literary work about the show. Star’s basic argument was that ideas can’t be copyrighted and denied that it had violated any copyright in the television show.

STAR’s contention is also that it had in 2000-2002 launched and broadcast a show called ‘Chalti ka naam Antakshari’, which had become very popular and hence wanted to produce another programme based on the ‘antakshari’ format but with unique features.

Article from TelevisionPoint