Decided on July 11,1966

Gama Prasad Agarwalla And Anr. Appellant
Nabahash Goswami And Ors. Respondents


G. Mehrotra, J. - (1.) THIS is an appeal by the principal Defendants. There is an institution known as the 'Nowgong Natya Samity which is also known as the 'Nowgong, Dramatic Club'. Plaintiff No. 1 was a member and the Chairman of the said institution and Plaintiff No. 2 was at the relevant time a member and the General Secretary of the Samity. Plaintiff No. 3 who was also a member of the club, was subsequently added by the order of the District Judge, Lower Assam Districts, Gauhati. The suit has been brought in the representative capacity, the Plaintiffs representing all the other members of the club. The allegation of the Plaintiffs is that the Nowgong Natya Samity has been constituted for recreation and amusement to its members and the public and with the object of improving art and enriching Assamese literature by encouraging authors to write and compile dramas in Assamese language. Pro forma Defendants Nos. 5 -7 wrote an Assamese drama known as 'Piyoli Phookan'. This was printed and published on the 1st September 1948 by the pro forma Defendant No. 8, the Associated Service Limited, Nowgong, of which the pro forma Defendant No. 1 is the Managing Director at the instance and under the guidance of the Nowgong Natya Samity and thus the Samity became the sole owner and proprietor of the publication and reserved its copyright in that drama. The Defendants without obtaining any permission and authority from the Plaintiffs converted by cinematograph the said drama into a motion picture and exhibited the film first at Gauhati on or about 2nd December 1955 a thereafter in different places of Assam including Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Nowgong, Golaghat, Naharkatiya, Lidu and Margherita and earned immense profits. The Defendants thus infringed the copyright of the Plaintiffs Nowgong Natya Samity. The Plaintiffs claimed the following relief: The recovery of Rs. 20,000 as damages and permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from showing the film.
(2.) THE defence taken was that the Defendants did not infringe the copyright. The drama was written by the Defendants and the suit as framed was not maintainable. The trial court decreed the suit for Rs. 5,000 as damages against the main contesting Defendants Nos. 1 to 4 with a direction that the amount may carry future interest at the rate of six per cent per annum.
(3.) IN this appeal the findings of the court below have been assailed. The first point urged is that the Plaintiffs have no copyright and thus they have no right to bring the suit either for the recovery of damages or for injunction secondly it is urged that the picture has been based on the drama written by the Defendants and it is not a copy of the drama printed by the Plaintiffs. Thirdly it is urged that the Plaintiffs have (sic) to prove the amount of damages. The court below after having held that the Plaintiffs (sic) failed to prove that the Defendants have (sic)rned huge profits and have failed to prove (sic)amount of profits received by the Defendants, was wrong in decreeing the suit for Rs. 5,000 as compensation as the price for permission they would have received for converting the drama into a film.;

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