R Indira Devi has no Copyrights over Guntur Sushendra Sharma’s “My Country My People”, says the Telangana High Court.

In a case involving Guntur Sushendra Sharma’s “My country, My people”/ “Naa-desham Naa-prajalu” and other works, the Telangana High Court affirmed the trial court’s decision that R Indira Devi, his second wife, has no copyrights over his works. The contest was between Indira Devi and Late Sushendra Sharma’s son. While the son claimed rights based on a letter written by Sushendra Sharma on 2nd February, 1989, Indira Devi claimed rights based on assignments in 2002 and 2006. After reviewing the facts, the trial court held that the copyrights of the son were valid, and not those of Indira Devi.

On appeal, the Telangana High Court confirmed the trial court’s order. The Court stated that by Indira Devi’s own admission, the letter given to the son was in Sushendra Sharma’s handwriting, and therefore, his rights were superior. Though Indira Devi claimed a subsequent assignment of copyrights that revoked prior assignments, the Court observed that the later assignments were printed, and did not have signatures of the author. The Court also rejected the plea of acquiescence and related estoppel by stating that the infringement gave rise to a continuous cause of action, and acquiescence was not established in the case. Furthermore, the Court stated that the provision that limited the assignment term to 5 years was not applicable because the assignment was made in 1989 before the said provision came into effect.

Citation: R INDIRA DEVI vs G SATYAKI, Telangana High Court, 25th January, 2024, C.C.C.A.No.255 of 2018


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