Sound Recording, Literary & Musical Works and Right to Royalty

Continued from Part 2read part by clicking here.

  1. Music Broadcast Private Limited v. Indian Performing Right Society Limited, SUIT NO. 2401 OF 2006

Facts of the case

The Plaintiff (Music Broadcast Private Limited) engaged in business of establishing, operating and maintaining FM Radio broadcasting stations in various cities of India sought a declaration that the Defendant (IPRS) is not entitled to demand or recover royalty and/or license fee in respect of broadcast of sound recordings at its FM Radio Stations. Further the Plaintiff sought a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant from demanding or claiming or making any claim in respect of or interfering with such broadcasts by the plaintiff for non-payment of royalty/ license fee. The Plaintiff contended that under a mistaken belief of law it had entered into an agreement with the Defendant for non exclusive license to perform publicly, the dramatic-musical works controlled by the Defendant instead of with Phonographic Performances Limited (PPL) to whom it is legally bound to pay royalty. Dispute arouse when the Defendant withdrew the infancy discount on its royalty/license fees granted to Plaintiff.


The Court having considered the elaborate arguments advanced on behalf of both the parties held that IPRS is not entitled to demand or recover royalty and/or license fee for broadcast of sound recordings by the Plaintiff at its FM Radio Stations. Through this judgment the Apex Court upheld the rights of the music companies over sound recordings, to the exclusion of the lyricists and composers whose works were the underlying materials for the sound recording.

  1. International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) v. Aditya Pandey & ors

The Apex Court dealing with three appeals directed against the order passed by Division Bench of High Court of Delhi, reaffirmed and upheld the order passed by Division Bench of High Court of Delhi wherein the said Court had dismissed the appeals, and affirmed the order of the learned Single Judge in Suit CS (OS) No. 1185 of 2006 and Copyright Infringement Suit CS (OS) No. 1996 of 2009 that a third party, such as an event organizers/management, playing a song in a public event, is required to pay royalty only to the music recording company and not to the lyricists and music composers of the particular song.

Facts of the case

Indian Performing Rights Society Limited (“IPRS”) (Appellant) and International Confederation of Societies, contented that authors of literary work and composers of musical work are first owners of copyright in lyric and musical work respectively of a sound recording under the Copyright Act, 1957, therefore the license given to sound recording company does not affect their rights to claim royalty for that sound recording. Hence, any third party communicating/broadcasting a sound recording to the public would be required to pay royalties to the lyricists and the music composers of that song. On the other hand the Respondents (event management companies) argued that the producer of sound recording has an independent copyright of his work, therefore once the author of a lyric or a musical work parts with a portion of his copyright, by authorizing a film producer, or producer of sound recording in respect of his work, a right exists with the latter to exhibit his work to the public. The issue before the Court was whether a separate license in respect of Literary and Musical Works can be asserted by the owner of copyright in such works in addition to the license secured from the copyright holder in the Sound Recording Communication to the public, including by way of broadcasting?


The Apex Court upholding the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court held that the producer of sound recording (the recording company/label) has an independent copyright in its work therefore can authorize the broadcast or communication to the public of the film, including the sound recording part, (as a composite work) without license from the author of the lyrics or the composer. Therefore in furtherance of such authorization the royalty for communicating/broadcasting a song to the public by a third party (event organizers) ought to be paid to the recording companies alone, and not to the lyricists and music composers of the song.

The Court further recognized that there is a separate copyright in the underlying musical and literary works which are embodied in a cinematographic film or sound recording. Such underlying works do not lose their existence upon a sound recording or any number of sound recordings being made. The Court opined that according to Section 14(a) of the Act the owner of copyright in literary and musical works has exclusive right to perform the work in public or communicate it to the public. On the other hand Section 14(e) of the Act authorizes the owner of copyright in sound recording only to communicate the work in public. Therefore the Hon’ble Court clarified that, the copyright in the work to make sound recording which does not form part of any cinematograph film, shall not affect the right of the author of the lyric and musical work to claim an equal share of royalties or/and consideration payable for utilization of such work in any form by the Respondent.

Authored by the Entertainment law division at BananaIP Counsels.

Image Source & attribution here, image is in public domain.

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