In 2012, the Division bench of the Delhi High Court, in the matter of IPRS v Aditya Pandey & Ors. dismissed IPRS’s appeal against the order of a Single Judge who had held that radio stations etc., who were broadcasting/communicating ‘sound recordings’ were required to pay royalty only to the owner of the sound recording and not to the owner of the lyrics or the musical works which had been incorporated into the sound recordings. We have previously covered this issue here and here.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the decision of the Division Bench and once again, dismissed the appeal of IPRS and ICSAC. This judgement comes as a great blow to the rights of lyricists and composers, whose works were considered to be independent and separate from that of the music producers so far. However, by virtue of this judgement, the rights of the lyricists and composers stand partly extinguished.
It is however, pertinent to note that Justice Prafulla C. Pant, in his opinion, clarified that, with effect from 21st June, 2012, the assignment of the copyright in the work to make sound recordings which does not from part of any cinematographic film, shall not affect the right of the “author of the work” to claim an equal share in the royalties for utilization of such work. As per section 2(d)(i) and (ii) of the Copyright Act, lyricists and composers are also authors. Hence, lyricists and composers too, can claim royalties for their work. They will, however, have no say in the assignment or licensing of their works.
Justice Gogoi, in his separate concurring opinion, noted two “disturbing trends” emerging from the facts. Firstly, the suits herein had dragged on for over 10 years without any substantial progress. The parties lost all interest in prosecuting the same in light of the exhaustive orders at the interim stage, which effectively adjudicated upon all the issues. Secondly, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (ICSAC) had been allowed to contend the matter at the Supreme Court stage even though it was not a party to any suit at the High Court stage, simply on the basis that the High Court order adversely affects its rights.
I will be bringing you a detailed analysis of this judgement soon. Stay tuned!
Image from here