Warner Bros who lost a high-profile case last year against Indian producers Mirchi Movies, who had named their film Hari Puttar. The film was about a 10-year-old boy who moves to England and becomes involved in a plan to save the world. One wag at the time suggested Warner should also sue the Queen of England as England features prominently in many Warner Bros movies.
However, it looks as thought the legal sharks at Warner have still not quite understood the concept of ‘fair use’ in copyright law and they have placed high-profile adverts in Indian newspapers warning the producers of Action Replay starring Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar that they risk legal action if the movie “either in English or Hindi or other language, has a similar script, screenplay or storyline or character sketches or interplay of characters or sequence of events” similar to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which recently starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
Action Replay has a storyline that involves a character moving backwards through time. It also has a love story, music and hopefully characters interacting — so it looks like Akshay is in deep trouble! What Warner Bros appear to have missed, however, is that Benjamin Button was not the first story of a character ageing backwards. The Confessions of Max Tivoli which was published in 2004 has remarkable similarities to the Button story and perhaps the author should consider suing Warners and getting some green stuff for their copyright infringement. Button also has more than just a hint of Martin Amis’ 1991 Booker Prize winning novel Time’s Arrow.
There are of course innumerable time travel stories, of which a man ageing backwards is merely a subset and any physicist will tell you that time doesn’t actually go forwards or backwards anyway.
So it looks as though Warner Bros have shot themselves in the foot again, making themselves look like transnational bullies once more and seeking to limit the process of creativity at the same time. Are they really suggesting that Button should be the only film ever made that features a man ageing backwards? Should there only ever be one vampire movie? One movie set in regency England? One love story