KUALA LUMPUR - Award-winning film director Datuk Yusof Haslam and his actor son are facing a civil dispute with a novelist over alleged plagiarism of a novel.
Yusof, 61, who won the Anugerah Pencapaian Seri Temasek in 2011 for his contributions to the film industry, however, has filed a counter claim against the novelist, saying that he has been slandered and is claiming damages.
In his lawsuit, novelist Elias Idris, 63, said he had in September or October 2013 watched a Malay film titled Bohsia: Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam over Astro Ria and found that there were similarities in theme, plot, characters and messages with his novel Aku Bohsia.
Elias, who used the pen name Anne Natasha Nita for the novel, said the movie script was reportedly written and directed by Yusof's son, actor and director Mohd Syamsul Md Yusof, 31.
He said the film was produced by Yusof, whose real name is Md Yusof Md Aslam, under their production company Skop Production Sdn Bhd.
In the suit filed on Nov 24 last year, he named Yusof and Mohd Syamsul and the company as defendants.
Yesterday, High Court judge Justice Azizah Nawawi set five days from Oct 19 to hear the trial after meeting the novelist's lawyer M. Kumar in chambers.
Kumar, who also mentioned the matter for the defendants' counsel Aizul Rohan Anuar and Eugene Lee, told reporters that the judge had ordered the defendants to amend their counter-claim, as they had requested, by March 19.
In his statement of claim, Elias, who has written 12 novels and a documentary script, said he bought a DVD of the film to watch it again.
He said he found that his novel had been copied by the three defendants to produce the film without his consent as copyright owner of the novel.
Among others, Elias is seeking a declaration that the defendants had violated his copyright and is also claiming for damages.
In their statement of defence filed on Jan 5, the defendants denied any plagiarism of the novel.
They said the idea for the story on the lifestyle of "bohsia" (female teenagers who preferred to loiter and were often involved in vice activities) was not unique to the novel alone and that even the plaintiff had admitted that it was a social phenomenon.
In a counter-claim filed by the defendants on Jan 5, they said the novelist had on Nov 16 last year slandered them in his blog.
They said the words had implied that they had taken advantage of him and tarnished their reputation in the film industry as well as caused them distress and embarrassment.