Decided on December 11,1967



- (1.) This appeal arises out of a suit filed by the appellant herein in the District Court, Alleppey, as O. S. 2 of 1961, for recovery of a sum of Rs. 10000 from the defendants (respondents herein) by way of damages for alleged infringement of copyright.
(2.) The 1st defendant is a private limited company doing business in printing, publishing and selling books and the 2nd defendant is the Manager of the aforesaid company. The 3rd defendant is the wife of the 2nd defendant. One N. H. Haran had been shown as the 4th defendant for the reason that the publication complained of had been made by the 1st defendant mentioning his name as the author, but during the course of the trial it was admitted on all hands before the lower court that the aforesaid name was only a pseudonym used by the 2nd defendant and did not relate to any real person. Accordingly, relief was pressed for only as against defendants 1 to 3 and they alone have been impleaded as respondents 1 to 3 in this appeal.
(3.) The plaintiff's case is that on 7.1.1955 an agreement was entered into between himself and the 1st defendant company acting through the 2nd defendant where under the plaintiff was entrusted with the work of rewriting Haran's English Malayalam Dictionary for the purpose of publishing a revised second edition of the original work. It was agreed that the plaintiff would be paid remuneration at the rate of Re. 1 per page in respect of the matter so rewritten by him, the aforesaid rate being inclusive of charges for first proof reading. At the time when this agreement was entered into, the first 176 pages of the proposed revised edition had already been prepared by one P. T. Nair. The defendants had previously entered into an arrangement with P. T. Nair for the preparation of the revised edition, but after rewriting the aforesaid portion he discontinued the work since he had to go away to Bombay. The contract with the plaintiff was for rewriting the remaining portion of the Dictionary and according to the plaintiff, he performed his part of the contract by rewriting the book in two volumes consisting of more than 1500 pages in the aggregate. It is further stated in the plaint that while the work was in progress the plaintiff joined the Law College, Ernakulam for the B. L. Degree Course and therefore found it difficult to carry on the work of proof reading which also he had undertaken to do under the contract. The agreement was, therefore, varied by consent of parties and it was decided to deduct Rs. l 4 0 for every form of 8 pages from out of the remuneration payable to the plaintiff. The plaintiff further states that whereas the revised and rewritten edition should have normally contained a statement that it had been revised and rewritten by the plaintiff who had done the work, he was surprised to see a copy of the first volume of the second edition displayed for sale at a bookseller's shop in Ernakulam containing a statement that the revision and rewriting had been done by "Haran". The plaintiff states that subsequently the second volume has also been similarly published and that the publication of both volumes has been so done by the 1st defendant. Both the volumes contain a further statement that the copyright in respect of them vests in the 3rd defendant. The plaintiff states that he is the author of the Book as revised and rewritten, except in respect of the first 176 pages and that the copyright vests in him. His name ought to have been mentioned in the published work as its author, but instead the books have been published with a false statement that they had been revised and rewritten by Haran and that the copyright vests in the 3rd defendant. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants in so printing, publishing and selling the Dictionary had committed a clear infringement of the plaintiffs' copyright in the work and that the plaintiff is, therefore, entitled to get by way of damages the sum of Rs. 10,000 which is only a very modest estimate of the illegal profits earned by the defendants by reason of their wrongful act.;

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