The government has warned copyright societies of legal action if they collect fees for performance of literary, dramatical, musical works or other similar recordings at official or religious ceremonies, including weddings.
The warning came through public notice by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) after it received several complaints about collection of royalties by copyright societies for performance of musical works.
The notice said the collection of such royalties is against the letter and spirit of Copyright Act.
It said the Copyright Act 1957 specifically mentions the performance of a literary, dramatic, or musical work or the communication to the public of such work or of a sound recording in the course of any bonafide religious ceremony or an official ceremony held by the central government or the state government or any local authority, as not constituting infringement of Copyright.
“Religious ceremony – for the purpose of the aforementioned clause – includes a marriage procession and other social festivities associated with marriage,” the DPIIT said.
It also cautioned the General Public not to accede to any uncalled demands (for royalties) from any individual/organisation/copyright society which are in violation of Section 52 (1) (za) of Copyright Act 1957.
Copyright Societies are legal bodies set up by owners of copyrights under the Act. They have to be registered under the Act to carry out their activities like licensing work for performance or communication to the public or issue copies of work to the public.
They are also authorised to watch out for infringement of copyright and take appropriate legal action if required.
There has been a constant tussle between copyright owners and event management companies on playing music at wedding functions. Many times the disputes have reached courts. The DPIIT order clarifies the issue and reiterates the scope of exemption available under the Copyright Act itself.
There are four major copyright societies in India – The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) which deals with literary works associated with musical works, Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (photocopying works) and Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL).