The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karishma back after copyright victory
- High court throws out international best-selling author’s suit

Calcutta, July 21: Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny was back on air tonight after being pulled out following the premiere over two months ago.

Sahara Entertainment’s blockbuster serial, starring Karisma Kapoor, made its second debut immediately after the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on a Calcutta High Court order earlier during the day, throwing out the copyright infringement charge against the network and producers.

Best-selling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford had brought the copyright violation suit. Calcutta High Court dismissed the case and ordered the Manhattan-based author to pay the Sahara channel damages amounting to several lakhs.

British-born Bradford’s counsel moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court, seeking a stay. The petition was heard at the residence of Justice . Santosh Hegde at 7.30 pm. Justice Hegde declined a stay but said: “The telecast would be done at their risk.”

This means Sahara will have to bear any cost if imposed by the court later. The next hearing has been set for Friday.

In a legal battle that started in April in Mumbai, shifting to Calcutta in May before moving to the Supreme Court in Delhi and then, back again to Calcutta, there has been a twist at every turn. The substance of the allegation in the suit: Sahara had lifted the plot and characters of A Woman of Substance for its 300-odd-episode show.

On “assessment of costs and damages”, the Calcutta High Court bench, comprising Justices A.. Ray and J. Banerjee, directed Bradford to pay Rs 10,000 for every hearing before the trial court and Rs 15,000 for each hearing before the appellate bench. It also ordered the plaintiff to pay Sahara Entertainment Rs 150,000 per week since the May 12 injunction.

Justice Ray termed this amount “pitifully low” compared to what the parties had to spend. But though the channel had been stopped from earning profits for the duration of the trial, it did not mean that they will not be earned ever, he said.

The bench considered, therefore, not the loss in profit but rather the loss of interest that could have been earned on the profits, taking it “on the low side”. Allowing telecast to resume, the bench also lifted the bank guarantee of Rs 25 lakh that Justice M.H.S. Ansari had directed Sahara to provide in his June 30 verdict.

“Copyright law does not protect basic plots and stock characters,” said the judge, adding that after “15 to 20 episodes are shown”, details will be known, and the plaintiff might have a case then. The present suit was “premature”, he said.

As of 9.30 tonight, Divyani, one of the two roles Karisma is playing in the serial, was back on her feet — much like the serial itself — though with an arm in a sling. Remember, she had got shot in the premiere'

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