Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy

‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy’: Copyright Infringement!

This article on ‘Karan Johar’s Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy: A Copyright Infringement Suit!’ is written by Kalpana, an intern at Legal Upanishad.

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The first image that springs to mind for most people when they hear the phrase “Bollywood” is a realm of vivid fantasies being displayed on a large screen. Bollywood, the name given to the Indian film industry that has produced stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, and countless others, is well known throughout the world for its amazing songs and dialogue.

IPR Law is helpful when an artist is looking for protection for his or her artistic work since Bollywood as an enterprise relies on the fire of artistic creations and intellectual labour. The Copyright Act of 1957 has several protections that aid an artist seeking safety from copyright infringement. In other terms, it defends against the possibility that somebody steals the results of another’s labour without acknowledging it.

The film ‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo’ recently launched its teaser. Nevertheless, a writer by the name of Vishal A. Singh alleged that Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions plagiarised his script Bunny Rani to create Jug Jugg Jeeyo, which led to the debate surrounding the movie. This Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy is not unique. There have also been other prior incidents. So let’s examine the relevant legal framework.

In this article, we are going to understand the Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy and copyright laws in India governing the Indian Film Industry. We will also look into some landmark judgments of the SC on the matters of the copyrights in the Indian film Industry.


A copyright is a type of IP that is issued by a government and gives the proprietor the only authority to use original creative works, subject to certain restrictions. Unique works of literature, science, art, architecture, fine paintings and sculpture are a few instances of works that are protected by copyright. The Copyright Act, 1957, governs copyright in India.[1]

A work must fulfil the following criteria to be protected by copyright:

Original wording:

The artwork must be an original representation of ideas or thoughts that hasn’t been made public earlier. The piece of writing must be distinctly distinctive and unique from prior works. You cannot, for instance, change the title page of a Harry Potter book Harold Zotter and assert copyright over the content which seems the issue in the Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy too.

Additionally, you should be aware that just the expression of an idea can be protected by copyright. For instance, while the concept of superstring theory cannot be protected by copyright, your article describing it may.

Reduced to a tangible form:

 Your creation must be converted to a tangible form, which refers to material reality. For example, you might print your book or write music on paper or include it in a voice tape. In this case, the writer is claiming that he sent the script to the Dharma productions which means that it was produced in the tangible form.

If you have copyright for a body of artwork, you have the following exclusive rights:

  • Creating, which is a right granted to you by copyright that enables you to produce derivative works from your original piece; 
  • Distribution, which is a right granted to you by copyright that permits you to make copies of the work;
  • Performing your art is a guaranteed right by copyrights which enables you to do activities like reading a chapter from your novel at a community library event.
  • Showing your art is a guaranteed right by copyright that enables you to present your art in locations like an art gallery.

The 1957 Indian Copyright Act[2]

Since it was first implemented under British control, copyright in India has come a very long way. India’s copyrights are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957[3], as revised in 1999. On January 15, 2000, it went into effect. To make the filing of copyright easier, it has set up a copyright office under the direct supervision of the Registrar of Copyright laws. By the Act, a Copyright Commission has also been created, with the Registrar of Copyright laws serving as its Secretary. 

The Act specifies different categories of creations wherein copyright exists and includes internal regulations for determining first possession of copyright, the extent of privileges given, assigning and licensing authorship, granting compulsory licenses in certain situations, author special rights, performing rights of communities, television rights, and global copyrights.

The Act clearly defines what comprises a violation and what doesn’t, as well as the criminal and civil penalties for violation and the remedies for threats of legal action without cause. The Indian copyright legislation complies with the terms of the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement[4].

Additionally, it complies with the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works’ requirements (Brussel Text, 1948). To comply with domestic and international criteria, the legislation was updated five times over the years 1983, 1984, 1992, 1993, and 1999. (Thomas, 2012).

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012[5]

The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012 was created to enhance author interests, simplify the licensing and assigning processes, increase access to work, and expand acceptable use policies generally and specifically to the Web. To simplify business procedures, certain amendments have been made to the reassignment and license provisions, and copyright organizations are now excluded.

However, there is still a fundamental worry about author rights being protected. The management of the copyright organizations and the copyrights board underwent revision. The overall spirit of the modifications is one of transformation.

Theory of Idea Expression

The premise that an idea’s expressiveness, rather than merely the idea itself, is covered by the Copyright Act is the centre and emphasis of expression philosophy. To put it another way, if a playwright, poet, composer of a song, etc. wishes to protect his creative work against plagiarism. Not with an idea that the artist merely had or developed, but for the form in which an idea is portrayed and put out, he or she will be protected. 

To put it another way, this concept is concerned with issues of protecting an artist who not only used his or her intellect to come up with a concept, yet was persistent enough just to put his work into a representation so that it may be simple to transmit the concept to his or her intended audience.

An artist must translate that creative concept into a concrete form. This implies that an artist cannot ask for security for a concept that just exists in his head. The artist must document the notion in writing, recordings, notes, or some other physical medium. which, although an artist is taking ownership of the concept itself, would not only demonstrate the existence of that concept but may also be admissible as evidence in a court of law. The judiciary has defined some considerations that must be taken into account while assessing a case of copyright violation through several decisions.

Do legal precedents clarify that in situations of copyright infringement, the type of expression employed, the form of expression, and elements such if there are any discernible imitations? shouldn’t be disregarded. Taking into account the artist’s choice of form, method, organization, character, and format of expression are also crucial. Since a concept’s expression is also protected by the copyright, not simply the idea alone. It is crucial to comprehend this if a sizable component of artistic creation is replicated. This will result in the obvious presumption that the work is a copy of the original piece of art, which will categorically come under the umbrella of copyright infringement.

For instance, the case of Mr Anil Gupta and Anr. vs. Mr Kunal Dasgupta and Ors.[6] resulted in a historic decision. The plaintiff in this lawsuit claimed that the defendant had violated his copyright. Plaintiff asserted that he provided idea papers for the notion of matchmaking that included the prehistoric conception of ‘Swayamwar’ and that he presented and delivered them. Therefore, when Defendants introduced the television program “Shubh Vivah,” wherein the girls were permitted to select their marriage from among the eligible bachelors present, Plaintiff immediately sued for copyright infringement.

Plaintiff’s copyright was violated, the court ruled. In addition, the court acknowledged the necessity to safeguard the artist’s sweat, blood, and tears in this instance and ruled that this was sensitive information supplied to the defendant. The court determined that just because Plaintiff provided the essential elements of the concept and the form of expression, the respondent violated the plaintiff’s copyright. The girl chooses her spouse from a pool of potential husbands, much as in a TV program, among many other parallels.

Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy
‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy’: Copyright Infringement!

Relevant Copyright Case Laws


According to the case’s circumstances, the plaintiff authored the play “Hum Hindustani” in 1953 while working as a playwright. He claimed to have told the defendant the story of the play that was eventually made into a movie. The complainant asserted copyright infringement and alleged that the movie “New Delhi” is a replica of his idea.

The Hon’ble Court outlined several fundamental concepts about copyright infringement in this landmark judgment. They were also mentioned and utilized as guidelines in numerous situations. This judgment made it very evident that the scope of copyrighted material only applies to the language, form, organization, and manner in which the idea is conveyed. A concept, theme, topics, narratives, historical accounts, or fabled truths are not protected by the copyright. The Court went on to say that basic similarities in the modes of expression used in the works result if a substantial section of artwork is copied. It would be considered a copyright violation.


Similar problems were raised in both this case and R. G. Anand’s Case. In this instance, the appellant referred to a game show concept as “Jeeto Unlimited.” where contestants in a quiz might win prizes by providing the correct answers. According to the appellant, the respondent forced them to sign a permission letter allowing Sony Network (respondent) to exploit the idea without being held responsible.

Subsequently, a lawsuit for copyright infringement was brought by the plaintiff over Sony Network’s well-known game program KBC. The judgment was made in favour of Sony Network, using and quoting the guidelines from R. G. Anand’s Case. The court noted that engaging the viewer in a television program is a common occurrence. Additionally, the notion of the appellant differs significantly from the selection of candidates by their responses to questions shown on their television screens.


Concluding the Jug Jugg Jeeyo Controversy, it can be said that, the essential element of Idea expression theory or the copyright act is that it applies to tangible ideas i.e. the ideas which have been expressed. In this case of Jug Jugg Jeeyo, as claimed by the writer Vishal A Singh the idea was sent to the Dharma productions in the written form which means that the idea was expressed and hence was in the tangible form. Therefore, if the proofs provided by the writer Vishal A Singh are legitimate then the Dharma production will surely lose the case as the ingredients of copyright infringement are fulfilled.


[1] What are Copyright Laws? – Definition & Overview – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com

[2] Indian Copyright Act, 1957 (act number 14 of 1957)

[3] Indian Copyright Act, 1957, available at URL: http://copyright.gov.in/Documents/CopyrightRules1957. pdf

[4] Matthews, Duncan (2003). Globalising Intellectual Property Rights: The TRIPs Agreement. Journal of Economic Issues, 37(3), 836-838

[5] The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012, (act number 27 of 2012)

[6] [(2002) 25 PTC 1, AIR 2002 DELHI 379, 2002 SCC OnLine Del 250]

[7] AIR 1978 SC 1613

[8] [(2018) 251 DLT 688, (2018) 75 PTC 562 (DEL)]