Reasoned decision in Nuri Bilge Ceylan case

WALL – The reasoned decision of the lawsuit filed against Nuri Bilge Ceylan on the grounds that he used the text of Polat Onat’s ‘Unmixed Countryman’ in the movie “Ahlat Tree”, which was released in 2018, has been announced. In the decision, “the nature of the action, the way it took place, the part of the letter used in the film, the great effect of the letter on the story told by the film, the dramatic structure will be damaged when they remove this scene from the script, it will cause the plot to break” It was stated that the request for moral compensation was accepted.

Writer Polat Onat and his lawyer Yasemin Arpa, He spoke to Mehmet S. Aman from Cumhuriyet newspaper. On the subject, writer Onat said, “I wish it could be resolved in mutual good faith and in a fair manner without the need for a litigation process. Because in an important film about ‘the troubles and troubles of a young provincial writer’, ‘the violation of rights is done by using the work of a provincial writer without permission’. “The fact that it is proved by a court decision contains a bitter contradiction and, moreover, a strange irony.”

Onat stated that the court’s decision actually proved that the meticulousness and sensitivity shown in copyright when using the works of metropolitan writers should also be valid for consonant provincial writers. Onat said, “The outcome of this lawsuit was interesting in that it proved that a world-famous and very successful artist and a writer like me, who is not even known in his own country, but doomed to failure, can sometimes realize a very utopian ideal as equals before the law.”


Onat continued:

“After all, I am not happy to be one of the subjects of such an unpleasant event. I was forced to be in such a position during the process. But at least I am happy to reveal that I am not ‘a naive young man afraid of speaking in public’ as claimed in the movie ‘Victory Tree’. I am right. I consider it as valuable as my principle of absolute silence in the field of literature, to defend an issue persistently, even if everyone is against it.I would be happy if I could prove the error of the presupposition that a provincial writer who advocates a solitary understanding of literature would avoid seeking his current legal right on copyright.

It has been a surprising but instructive experience for me to be exposed to the prejudiced attitudes of hundreds of people who are fans of the director, who angrily condemned the search for rights before the law by someone like me, whose work was obviously used without permission. I believe that we have come across a striking example that we should not only display ethical values ​​and honesty in the contents of the works of art produced, but also embed them in our daily lives and reflect them in our individual behaviors.”


Polat’s lawyer Yasemin Arpa said, “After learning that my client, Polat Onat, was quoted from his own work, the producer of the film, Zeyno Agency, tried to reach Nuri Bilgi Ceylan, the director and screenwriter of the film, by e-mail, but he was never responded to. I wish we had not had to come together with Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a very valuable filmmaker, as the parties to such a legal dispute. If only we were talking about his movies and achievements as viewers. But we are all equal before the law,” he said.

The text that is the subject of the lawsuit in the movie takes place in the dialogue between the main character Sinan (Doğu Demirkol) and the writer Süleyman (Serkan Keskin).

What happened?

Director and screenwriter Nuri Bilge Ceylan was sentenced to compensation for using the text of Polat Onat without permission in the letter he included in the movie “Ahlat Tree”. The “Letter of an author who did not want to participate in the Country and Literature Symposium” section of the movie “Victory Tree”, which was screened in 2018 and competed for the Golden Palm Award at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, was the subject of the lawsuit the same year.

It was revealed that the relevant text was the text of the “Unmixed Countryman”, which was previously published in the 1271th issue of Varlık magazine and in the book of Letters from the Countryside of Literature. Then, the owner of the work, Onat, filed a lawsuit for 40 thousand TL against the director and screenwriter of the film, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and the production company of the film, Zeyno Film Production Company, on the grounds that the relevant text was used without permission.

The lawsuit, which was opened in 2018 and was heard at the Istanbul Intellectual and Industrial Rights Law Court, was concluded on 13 December 2022. The court decided that the text of the writer Polat Onat was used without permission in the film and “detection of infringement”. The court ruled that the owner of the work should be paid “material and moral compensation”.