On Originality and Copyright In Theatre

Deepa Punjani

(This article is in continuation with my earlier article: DETECTIVE NAU DO GYRAH And The Pandora's Box That None Of Can Ignore).

A Brief Background

In light of the recent controversy that surrounded The Company Theatre's production DETECTIVE NAU DO GYRAH (D 9-2-11) by which Director Atul Kumar took the decision to withdraw his nomination from the Mahindra Excellence In Theatre Awards (META) Festival, conversations emerged on originality and copyright. My response in the public domain through this website, was largely focused on what we mean when we say or claim originality.

The article was meant to be not only reflective of the words "original/originality", but to also open up a dialogue that has an actual bearing on the rights of the stakeholders concerned.

This article then, is in the form of a further inquiry, as more formal discussions are planned in an upcoming, two-day programme titled: "Whose Play Is It Anyway?"*

This is a very good question.

The Legal

This question must be answered legally. There can be no moral imperative to it because one's morality is not someone else's, just as different language theatres in Mumbai city operate differently in different ecosystems. That's the basic and simple fact.

For example, a conversation between an X Marathi or Gujarati professional/commercial theatre company with an X English theatre group in the city about 'originality' and 'creativity' would come to naught, apart from some perfunctory nods of approval and disapproval. This is not because it is not possible to have the conversation but simply because the modus operandi of these theatres are incompatible.

The legal implication of "Whose Play Is It Anyway" can be answered from the following two standpoints:

1. The Script.
2. The Production.
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