Star, Zee both claim rights to 'Betiyaan' concept; issue set to reach Court

MUMBAI: The Diwali fireworks have already hit Indian television's Hindi Entertainment space with archrivals Star India and Zee Network locking horns over a copyright issue.

The "war" was kicked off with Zee Telefilms issuing a notice to Star demanding it withdraw all activites around its upcoming soap, tentatively titled Betiyaan, claiming ownership of the concept.

Star dismissed Zee's charges, asserting that the show's writer Rekha Modi had registered the titles and the concept with various copyright bodies well before Zee made its own registration.

In its legal notice sent to Star, Zee has said that its upcoming prime time soap Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyaan, produced by Creative Eye, would face serious market implications if Star went ahead with its prime time project carrying a similar title Betiyaan.

Revealing the registration dates of the Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyaan title and concept with various copyright and industry bodies such as Film Writers Association, Film and Television Producers Guild of India and Society for Copyright regulation of Indian Producers for Film and Television, Zee has warned Star that, "Use of key elements or concept or format in your programme/series may constitute a violation of applicable intellactual property laws, including without limitation those regarding copyright infringement and passing off."

Buttressing its case, Star made available to copies of the registrations made with the Film Writers Association on 5 April, 2006; 12 April, 2006 & 27 July, 2006. The show concept, characters and scripts were registered with the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers on 29 July 2006 with the titles Betiyaan and Ghar Ki Lakshmi...Betiyaan. A copy of this document was also furnished.

Zee's notice to Star further states, "We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the television programme 'Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyaan' is owned by Zee Telefilms Ltd. We have already started the promotions on 5 August, and have incurred and/or committed substantial sums on business promotion / advertising and publicity etc for the programme. Our right to the programme is highly valuable to us as we have invested a lot of resources in the programme in building up awareness and goodwill in the said programme.

"We state that, on 2 August 2006, our programme was registered with the "Film Writers Association" and on 21 August, registered with the Film and Television Producers Guild of India and Society for Copyright regulation of Indian Producers for Film and Television (SCRIPT). We understand that, this registration was done by the Guild after confirming with Association of Motion Pictures & TV Programme Producers."

A Star spokesperson countered, "We have been working with Rekha Modi on a show which she has registered with various industry bodies. The show concept and script of Betiyaan was registered with the Film Writers Association on 5 April, 2006; 12 April, 2006 & 27 July, 2006. The show concept, characters and scripts have also been registered with the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers on 29 July 2006 with the titles Betiyaan and Ghar Ki Lakshmi...Betiyaan."

Star has further said that, it would be sticking to its original plan of launching Betiyaan very soon. "We will be launching this show very soon, though we are yet to finalise the title of the same. As far as the show is concerned, we are convinced that this is Rekha Modi's original concept and will take all steps necessary to protect our position in this regard," the company said.

As per the Zee notice, the Star soap will be telecast by Star One. However, the star spokesperson refused to divulge any more details regarding the programme.

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