Any event organiser, if using copyrighted music or songs in a party, would have to inform the copyright societies which will issue an invoice for payment of royalty along with proof of their rights as per an interim arrangement arrived at in the Delhi High Court between a firm and three such societies.
Under the arrangement, anyone who is going to hold an event will inform the three societies — Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and Novex Communications Pvt Ltd — about the copyrighted work to be used and one of these three, which holds the rights, shall issue an invoice for royalty along with proof of ownership of the copyright.
The event organiser would have to pay the royalty prior to holding the event, Justice Najmi Waziri noted in his order in which he also directed the respondent societies to “upload on their respective websites the (copyright) assignment deeds along with the list of songs pertaining to such assignment deed”.
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The order came after the societies claimed that they “are legitimate assignees of copyrighted works or are otherwise duly authorised agents of copyright owners” and sought to enforce their rights under section 18 (assignment of copyright) and 30 (licences by owners of copyright) of the Copyright Act.
They argued before the court that as long as the owner of a copyright exercises its rights under section 18 and section 30 read with section 19 (mode of assignment of copyright) of the Act, “there is no bar on the copyright owner or his agent or an assignee from monetising the copyrighted works”.
The court was hearing an application moved by the three societies against its December 23, 2016 decision restraining them from granting any licence, as a copyright society under section 33 of the Act, to play music and songs of various artistes in public.
The December 23, 2016 order had come on a plea by Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) which has claimed that registration of IPRS and PPL expired in 2013 and Novex was never registered, and only registered societies can issue licences for playing music in public.
During arguments on the application moved by the three societies, EEMA agreed with their contention that they can charge royalty as owners or assignees of the copyright but only after showing the relevant documents to substantiate their rights.
While asking PPL, IPRS and Novex to upload the copyright assignment deeds on their websites, the court also asked them to put up a search option on their sites to identify an owner of a copyright.
It also asked the three to explore the possibility of accepting payments through internet payment gateways and to put in place the requisite system for this in four weeks.
With these directions, the court listed the matter for further hearing on April 24. On the last date of hearing, the Centre and the Copyright Office had submitted that they have received complaints that PPL and IPRS were violating the Act and they had initiated an enquiry.
They had also said a notice has been put up on the website of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to inform the public that IPRS and PPL are no longer registered as copyright societies.