IPRS entitled to royalties from 2 FM channels: HC

The Bombay High Court has held that the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) was entitled to raise claims for royalties from companies owning radio channels FM Tadka and Radio City for using copyrighted music.

The court held that the amended Copyright Act indicated that IPRS was entitled to ask for interim relief for the benefit of its members, who are authors of literary and musical works utilized in cinematograph films and sound recordings. The court clarified that the FM channels would be restrained from using the copyrighted music if they fail to pay the royalties to IPRS within six weeks of receiving such communication.

A single-judge bench of Justice Manish Pitale on April 28 passed a verdict in a plea by IPRS seeking interim reliefs in copyright infringement suits against the defendants FM channels.

The IPRS sought relief primarily on the ground that amendments brought into effect from June 21, 2012 in the Copyright Act, 1957, have completely changed the legal framework concerning the rights of authors of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.

Senior advocate Ravi Kadam, representing IPRS, submitted that IPRS being society registered under the provisions of the Copyright Act, is espousing the cause of such authors of original works, who were earlier deprived of their rightful claims.

Kadam added that they have become entitled to claim royalties on each occasion that their original works are utilized and in the facts of the present cases, on each occasion when a sound recording is communicated to the public by the defendants.

Therefore, the IPRS sought enforcement of 2012 amendments to Copyright law concerning the rights of authors of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.

The defendant companies Rajasthan Patrika Pvt Ltd and Music Broadcast Limited, operate FM Tadka and Radio City, respectively. The defendants submitted that the amendments are “merely clarificatory in nature, reinforcing a well-settled position of law”.

The court noted that the claim by defendants that the interim reliefs cannot be granted as the amendments were made in 2012 due to delay “is an unacceptable contention”.

The bench observed, “Mere delay or alleged acquiescence on the part of such authors cannot be a ground to deprive them of interim reliefs, which they otherwise deserve, in the light of the fact that a strong prima facie case is indeed made out on their behalf.

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