A Delhi court dismissed a copyright infringement suit filed over the publication of a book titled ‘Islamic Studies’ and imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on the plaintiff, observing that nobody can have a copyright on the teachings in the Quran and other Islamic books.
District Judge (Commercial) Sanjeev Kumar Aggarwal in his order dated July 25 observed, “Some contents are bound to be similar as teaching given in the Holy Books Quran and Hadees and other religious text related to Islam religion are bound to be same in all books which are about teaching on Islam. In my view, nobody can have copyright on these teachings which are written in the Holy Books Quran and Hadees or other Islamic books.”
The suit was filed by Islamic Book Service (P) Ltd, a publisher and exporter of Islamic books situated in Delhi’s Daryaganj, claiming that Maulvi Abdul Aziz, as the owner and author of the literary work titled ‘Islami Taleemat’ series of books, Part I to VIII, had assigned its copyright to the company unconditionally and also handed over the manuscript of the work against consideration.
The company alleged that in May 2018, it came to know that the defendant, one Abdur Rauf Najeeb Bakali, started publishing the literary work of Maulvi Aziz in the name and style of ‘Islamic Studies Grade I to Grade 5’.
The company said that it had been publishing the book series ‘Studies in Islam’ (Grade I to Grade VIII) exclusively and continuously since 1992 and the same is sold on an extensive scale in Delhi as well as abroad. The company alleged that the defendant infringed its copyrights in ‘Studies in Islam’ by publishing the book ‘Islamic Studies’.
While examining whether the defendant had copied content from ‘Studies in Islam Grade I’ in its book ‘Islamic Studies’, the court observed, “No comparison of the books of plaintiff and defendant was given to show either in the plaint or in the evidence of PW1 (prosecution witness) so that it could be said that the defendant has copied the plaintiff book and thus infringed the copyright work of book ‘Studies in Islam’.”
Rejecting the company’s argument that the names of both the books ‘Islamic Studies’ and ‘Studies in Islam’ were almost similar as it contained the words ‘Islam’ and ‘studies’, the court said, “In my view there cannot be any copyrights on word ‘Islam’ or ‘studies’. The name of the plaintiff’s book is ‘Studies in Islam’ whereas the name of the defendant’s book is ‘Islamic Studies’. The colour printing of the cover page of both the books is also quite different.”
The court thus held that the company “miserably failed” to prove that it had any copyright over the book ‘Islamic Studies’ or that the defendant had committed any infringement of copyright of its book by publishing ‘Islamic Studies’.
The court said that the plaintiff is not entitled to any relief and dismissed the company’s suit with a cost of Rs 50,000, which the company has to pay to the defendant for the fees and expenses incurred by him.