Copyright the economic and moral benefits arising therein

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Copyright the economic and moral benefits arising therein

Copyright
Societies are registered under the ambit of The Copyright Act, 1957 (referred
as the Act subsequently) to bestow collective rights and administration to the
rights of copyright owners. Their primary duty is to ensure that the interests
of copyright owners are protected and to enable a better check on the economic
and moral benefits arising therein from such works. In India, it is registered
under section 33 of the Act. Some of the notable copyright societies in India
are Phonographic Performance Ltd., (PPL), Indian Performing Right Society Ltd.,
(IPRS), Indian Singers Rights Association Ltd., (ISRA) and Indian Reprographic
Rights Organization (IRRO). PPL is the representative body for the owners of
sound recordings and enjoys almost an exclusive right over the sound recordings
of many music companies in India. They have filed a plethora of suits during
the Christmas/New Year season requesting various courts across India to prevent
hotel and other establishments from using sound recordings belonging to PPL as
these entities are involved in making huge profits without obtaining the so
claimed license from PPL. Response of the judiciary in this matter varied on a
case to case basis but they ended up granting injunction in favor of PPL in majority
of the cases as they found substance in the stand of PPL.

The
matter of commercial appeals by Phonographic Performance Ltd. against numerous respondents
before the Bombay High Court comes with a challenge in the common order passed
by the learned single judge in Commercial Suit Nos. 740 to 745 of 2017 which
were moved by the appellant/plaintiff. The prayer sought for urgent ad interim
injunction by the appellant/ plaintiff was however rejected on the ground that the
appellant had no locus accordingly such reliefs can only be claimed by entities
or societies referred to under section 33 of The Copyright Act, 1957.

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Plaintiff
has been licensing sound recording for non-physical like public performance in
inns and restaurants and other venues/ radios, T.V broadcasting, communication
to public through internet etc., since its inception. Events held by
defendant(s) in certain places, for instance hotels, gardens or other public
places are claimed to be the works under plaintiff’s ownership. These occasions
are primarily hung on the eve of Christmas or New Year. Appellant claimed that
their repertoire comprises of around 5 lakhs of songs in English, Hindi,
Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Malayalam, Bhojpuri and other Indian
languages and are acting under the capacity of assignees which control the
public performance rights and radio broadcasting rights for film and non-film
songs like ghazals, devotional, folk, pop, classical, etc.,.  Appellant approached this court on the basis
of the thus made assignment and are worried that the act of defendants would
violate the copyright and particularly defeat the rights of owners.

The
point emerged for deliberation before this Hon’ble court was – Is there a
violation of the rights of appellants in this case which caused them the
apprehension?

The
appellant submits that by section 17 under chapter IV of the Act author of the
work shall be the first owner of  the
copyright but by section 18 owner of copyright in present or future work may
assign to any person the copyright wholly or partially, generally or
specifically for the whole term or any part thereof. Provisos to section 18,
read along with sections 19 and 19A enables plaintiff to contend that
independent of section 33 owner of copyright in any present or future work is
empowered to grant interest by license in writing by him or his duly authorized
agent which is ought to be construed in the light of all other provisions and
not in isolation because when read in isolation the error committed by learned
judge would be repeated again causing miscarriage of justice. It would be a gross
foul play to accept that the offended party has no locus to document a suit or
claim directive in such manner as the organization of privileges of proprietor
of copyright society are molded in an extremely healthy way.

Whereas
the defendants contend that they would not perform publicly or communicate the
sound recording of plaintiff without license from them and are prepared and
willing to obtain license in lieu of the stipulated permit fees to the
appellants. Defendants are more than willing to do the same without causing any
prejudice to their rights and contentions.

Court
has disposed these appeals at the apprehension stage itself. As their
apprehensions are genuine, it is ought to be followed with the grant of
injunction as the imperatives for the same – balance of convenience, prima
facie case and irreparable loss/injury are satisfied by the appellants. Hence
ad interim injunction was granted in their favor.

Upon
perusal of the challenged order, the learned single judge proceeded to deny
relief only on the construction and interpretation placed by him on the basis
of section 3 of the Act. The learned judge’s attention was also not invited to
several ad interim orders passed in similar suits by this court and hence the
present court has found out the scope for arguable questions in this regard.

Phonographic
Performance Ltd. has turned into a command for any entity to obtain license if
at all they want to play a prerecorded music in a public place else it would
amount to violation of copyright Act which is a cognizable and non-bailable
offence. In order to obtain a license from PPL, one has to apply for the same
in an appropriate format with the prescribed fees to an appropriate regional
office. A lot of people in India are not even aware of or at least not very
clear about Intellectual Property Rights in essence and its working and upon
such a circumstance it is significantly harder to get a span on the ideas copyright
societies to the common man in this society and for it to come true requires a
great deal of advocacy, awareness and promotion.

 

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