Wednesday, August 17

Plagiarism dispute involving writer of novel and film production company set for trial


KUALA LUMPUR: A local novel writer and owners of a local film production company failed yesterday to resolve their legal dispute through mediation.

Elias Idris is the plaintiff in a suit against film director and actor Syamsul Yusuf or Mohd Syamsul Md Yusuf, 31, his father Datuk Yusuf Haslam (Md Yusuf Md Aslam), 61, and their company Skop Production Sdn Bhd.

Without any settlement reached during the mediation process before Justice Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, the case will proceed to trial.

Lawyer Aizul Rohan Anuar who is representing Syamsul told reporters that the court had set Feb 6 for case management.

Yusuf Haslam after the proceeding, said his side had tried its best for a mutual conclusion, and expressed disappointment at Elias’ reluctance to settle amicably.

“My son Syamsul and I wanted to settle this out of court as advised by the judge but the plaintiff wanted to claim damages.

“We will not pay a sen as we had not done anything (plagiarised),” he said.

Elias, 63, filed the suit on Nov 24 last year, alleging that the defendants had plagiarised the contents of his novel, ‘Aku Bohsia’ in their film, ‘Bohsia: Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam’, which was produced in 2009.

In his statement of claim, the plaintiff said he wrote the novel in 1995 using the pseudonym, Anne Natasha Nita, and obtained a copyright on it.

He alleged that many similarities in theme, plot, character and message could be found between the novel and film.

Elias also claimed that a letter he had written to the defendants about the copyright infringement, and requesting compensation, had gone unheeded.

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration that the defendants had infringed on his copyright ownership as the original writer; an injunction to prevent the defendants from screening the movie; and an order on costs.

Meanwhile, the defendants in their statement of defence and counter claim filed on Jan 5, denied the similarities alleged by Elias.

They claimed that they had never read, possessed or heard about the novel prior to and after completing the film.

The defendants also claimed that they got hold of the novel for the first time on Dec 1 last year, and after reading through it, found glaring differences between it and the movie in the theme, plot and other aspects.

In their counter claim, they alleged that the plaintiff had slandered them in his blog on Nov 16 last year.

They claimed that the plaintiff had ridiculed and tarnished their image and reputation in the film industry.

The defendants are seeking an injunction to prevent the plaintiff or his agents from giving any oral or written statement to the media on the alleged plagiarism or similarities between the novel and film.

They are also seeking exemplary and general damages, interest and cost. — Bernama