Copyright case: Hyderabad Publisher penalised; victory for Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa

Copyright case: Hyderabad Publisher penalised; victory for Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa

December 30, 2023

Kannada novel ‘Vamshavruksha’ published in Telugu as ‘Vamshavruksham’ without permission 

Mysore/Mysuru: In a significant victory, the Principal District and Sessions Court of Mysuru has ruled in favour of celebrated Mysuru-based writer and Padma Bhushan awardee, Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, in a copyright infringement case. 

The Court has imposed a fine of Rs. 5.05 lakh on a Hyderabad-based Publisher for publishing the Telugu translation of Dr. Bhyrappa’s Kannada novel, ‘Vamshavruksha,’ without obtaining the necessary permission.

The renowned novelist, known for his significant contributions to Kannada literature, filed the case after discovering that Vatsala, the Hyderabad-based Publisher released the Telugu translation of ‘Vamshavruksha’ without securing the requisite rights. Vatsala is the editor of Priyadarshini Prachuranalu Prakashan in Hyderabad

Dr. Bhyrappa has been writing some of the best-selling novels in Kannada for over 50 years now. His novels are widely translated into other Indian languages and his stories make a conscious effort to depict the fundamental emotions of human beings. He has written 24 novels, four volumes of literary criticism and books on aesthetics, social issues and culture.

‘Vamshavruksha’, originally published in Kannada in the 1960s, holds a special place in the literary world and is recognised as a masterpiece. It has been prescribed as a text for bachelor’s degree students and even a Kannada film was also made based on the novel.

Notably, the rights for translation of ‘Vamshavruksha’ in Telugu were given to Sanagaram Nagabushanam. It was published as ‘Vamshavruksham’ earlier. Nagabushanam died a few years ago and after that, the Telugu rights were not given to anybody else except Sanagaram Nagabhushanam or his legal heirs.

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It came to the notice of Dr. Bhyrappa in November 2021 that Vatsala has published Vamshavruksham again and 1,000 copies of the book, priced at   Rs. 360, had been printed as per the details on the copies of the book.

Upon learning of this unauthorised publication, Dr. Bhyrappa, through his advocate O. Sham Bhat, issued a legal notice to Vatsala on Nov. 15, 2021, demanding the stoppage of sales and the surrender of all printed copies. Furthermore, Dr. Bhyrappa sought compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the copyright infringement.

Court appoints Commissioner

As Publisher Vatsala failed to respond to the notice, Dr. Bhyrappa filed a suit before the Principal District and Sessions Court, Mysuru. The Court-appointed Commissioner P.J. Raghavendra, who visited Dr. Bhyrappa’s residence, heard  his evidence and submitted a report to the Court.

Following deliberations, Judge Prabhavathi M. Hiremath issued a verdict asking Vatsala to pay the stipulated compensation of 5.05 lakh, surrender and deliver all the printed copies of “Vamshavruksham” to Dr. Bhyrappa and also issued a restraining order against any further reprinting or selling of the translated work.

Advocate Sham Bhat, representing Dr. Bhyrappa emphasised the importance of upholding copyright laws and protecting the intellectual property of authors. This judgement serves as a reminder of the significance of respecting copyright and the legal consequences for those who infringe upon the rights of authors and creators, he added.


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