IPRS (Indian Performing Right Society) has its grievance against the broadcasters of Private FM Radio Channels and Event Organizers for paying royalties to only the owners in copyright of the sound recording but not to the authors of the lyrical or musical scores. The Single bench of the Delhi High Court Justice S.Ravindra Bhat ruled in favor of the radio broadcasting channels and IPRS then appealed to the Supreme Court, which delivered its judgement in September.
Question of Law
The question of law that arises at this point is whether it is enough to obtain permission from the copyright owner of the derivative work (sound recording) to broadcast by way of communicating to the public said derivative work, without similar permission from the owner of the underlying works i.e. the literary and musical works?
The Court held that royalties need only to be paid to the defendants that is Adithya Pander & others, and the appeal filed by the plaintiffs was thus dismissed.
Rule of Law
Section 14(a) and (e) of the Copyright Act, 1957.
Analysis of the Court
The court stressed on the principle that ‘nothing existed in isolation’ and thus how the three classes of works – a) literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; (b) cinematographic films and (c) sound recording are mutually exclusive. Though the underlying work does not lose its existence after the sound recording, it must be kept in mind that sound recording involves integration of the different works and this integrated whole while broadcasted to the public is an exercise of ownership rights in its own strength. Separately, they might have a different existence and ownership but when integrated, they are considered one.
The court also relied on the laws of the UK relating to rights of a copyright owner of sound recording as well as a 1977 Supreme Court Judgment in the matter of Eastern Motion Pictures v. IPRS.
In light of the arguments advanced and authorities cited, the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court upheld the decision of the Single Judge and dismissed the appeal without imposing costs.
The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the Division bench of the High Court and arrived at the conclusion that even though the rights provided under section 14 of the Act were independent of each other, the producer of the sound recording (also an author by virtue of section 2(d)(v)) would still have the right to communicate his work to the public.
Authored By- Srividya Viswananthan
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