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Bombay High Court o upheld the rights of The Indian Performing Right Society Limited against private FM radio broadcasters

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In a landmark judgment, the Bombay High Court today upheld the rights of The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (“IPRS”) against private FM radio broadcasters. The judgement by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Manish Pitale of the Bombay High Court in the cases titled IPRS v Rajasthan Patrika Pvt Ltd and IPRS v Music Broadcast Limited agreed with the contentions of IPRS that the broadcast of music by FM radio broadcasters required the payment of royalties in respect of the utilization of literary and musical works underlying sound recordings notwithstanding payments made by the broadcasters to owners of the sound recordings.

The Hon’ble Court held that the legal position as regards the ownership of authors and composers who create lyrics and musical compositions manifestly changed as a result of the wide-ranging amendments made in 2012 to the Copyright Act 1957 by creating a substantive right in favour of authors of underlying literary and musical work. The Hon’ble High Court also specifically held that IPRS has a right to claim royalties in respect of literary and musical works exploited as part of sound recordings or in cinematograph films. The Court also refuted the arguments made by Yash Raj Films Private Limited which arguing in the aspect of law, urged that the right to royalty could not be recognised as copyright. The court has unequivocally held that the communication of the sound recording to the public on each occasion amounts to the utilization of such underlying literary and musical works in respect of which the authors have a right to collect royalties and accordingly, the authors of such literary and musical works who are entitled to claim royalties on each occasion that such sound recordings are communicated to the public through radio stations.

The court has directed the defendants to pay the royalties to IPRS as per the judgment of the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board dated 31st  December, 2020 within a period of 6 weeks failing which interim injunctions restricting broadcast of music would come into effect.

Mr Javed Akhtar Chairman of IPRS stated, “I am delighted that the honourable Bombay High Court has seen fit to uphold and protect the rights of authors and composers whose creations have enthralled and inspired Indians and the world for decades. This is long due especially since Indian music has reverberated across the world including Natu Natu composed by M M Keeravaani and authored by Kanukuntla Subhash Chandrabose.  All the authors and composer members of IPRS thank the Hon’ble Bombay High Court for this landmark judgement and its well-reasoned analysis recognising the change in the law since 2012. This forward-looking and exemplary judgement places the creator back at the heart of copyright creation which will serve as a great incentive for artistes, the music industry and for the creation of copyright in India”.

Mr Rakesh Nigam CEO of IPRS stated, “This is a landmark judgement. IPRS thanks the Hon’ble Court for protecting the rights of authors and composers who are its member. IPRS calls upon all users which exploit music without an IPRS licence to come forward in the spirit of legal compliance and to support creators in India. On its part, IPRS will continue to espouse the cause of authors and composers by building long-lasting partnerships with our licensees.”

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