Section 14(a) of Copyright Act, 1957 cannot be interpreted to mean that the right of producer of sound recording to communicate his work to the public under Section 14(e)(iii) of the Act, is lost

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The Court, while deciding the question as to whether the Event Management Company/Event Organizer is required to seek licence from the lyricist and the musician for subsequently playing the song in public even after it has paid for the broadcasting of the song to the Sound Recording Company, held that though each of the seven sub-clauses of clause (a) of Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957 relating to literary, dramatic or musical work, are independent of one another, but reading these sub-clauses independently cannot be interpreted to mean that the right of producer of sound recording, who also comes under definition of author under Section 2(d)(v), and has a right to communicate his work to the public under Section 14(e)(iii) of the Act, is lost.  It was also held that in the assignment, normally, ownership of the copyright of the work is transferred but in the case of licence another person is allowed to use the work by the author.

Argument advanced on behalf of the appellants was that the permission granted to defendant was sans the right to communicate the sound recording to the public, was rejected by P.C. Pant, J and Ranjan Gogoi, JJ, on the ground that there appeared no such term and condition between the parties depriving the defendant from communicating his work of making song to the public. The Court made it clear that with effect from 21.06.2012, in view of sub-section (10) of Section 19 of the Act, the assignment of 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 work to claim an equal share of royalties or/and consideration payable for utilization of such work in any form by the plaintiff/respondent.

Considering the fact that sub-section (10) of Section 19 was inserted with effect from 21.06.2012 vide Act No. 27 of 2012, which did not exist on the day the plaint was filed before trial court in the year 2006, the Court agreed with the decision of the Delhi High Court where it was held that the defendants do not have to secure a license from the appellants, as such rights as exist w.e.f. 21.06.2012 were not the same prior to it.

The High Court had held that in case the defendants wish to perform the sound recording in public, i.e. play them, a license from Phonographic Performing Rights Society (PPRS) is essential; in case the musical works are to be communicated or performed in the public, independently, through an artiste, the license of Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) is essential. In case the defendant wishes to hold an event involving performances or communication of works of both kinds to the public, the license or authorization of both IPRS and PPRS are necessary. The High Court, hence, restrained the defendant from communicating any of such works to the public, or performing them, in the public, without such appropriate authorization, or licensing pending adjudication of the suit [International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers v. Aditya Pandey, 2016 SCC Online 967, decided on 20.09.2016]

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