The Case of the Reappearing Title


Krishna Sobti sued Amritha Pritam for using the title, Hardutt Ka Zindaginama in her book, claiming that she coined the word Zindaginama, used in the title of her own book.

Krishna Sobti: Your zindagi cannot have my Zindginama …it is from my own creativity!
Amrita Pritam: A name is public property! Zindginama for me too!
Court: Case dismissed! Title of a book cannot be copyrighted.


A theatre group obtained permission from Salim Arif to perform his work Kharaashein, an daptation of Gulzar's poem. Though the publicity mentions Gulzar's name and the title, the actual play was something totally different!

Arif: This is no Khaarishein! Cut it out!
Play director: Of course it is not! We've only retained the title!
Arif: No! My title cannot be your marketing tool!
Play director: Oops, we'll change the title.


Can there be copyright over a title? There is no copyright over title. A trademark can however be obtained under the Trademarks and Patents Act.

Spotlight on Theatre:

Plays often carry the same name and are distinguished by the playwright’s name. Under the law, it is ‘fair’ to carry the same name. But what is the theatre community’s stance? After all, the name is meant to identify your work through another well known work. In the hyper competitive movie industry, where big money is at stake, a powerful self-regulatory body called the Producer’s Guild registers names, even before a producer starts making a film! Infringement can attract shame and pecuniary sanctions.

Best Practices or Quick, Tell Me How to Avoid Conflict!

Do not offend the playwright while using a title from another work, by causing an impression that your work or play has been authored by him. Do not give the wrong impression to your audience by using a title that is identified with another work.


To read the full text of the above judgement, follow the links.

Also read Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957