Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Music companies, not lyricists, hold song rights: HC

Mumbai: In a setback to music composers and lyricists, the Bombay High Court in a landmark judgment has upheld the right of the music companies over a song recording. The order by Justice S J Vazifdar is a huge relief to FM radio stations and others who play recorded songs, including hotels and discotheques. Music composers and lyricists were demanding a separate royalty every time their music was played.
The high court ruled that the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS), a body that safeguards the copyrights of music composers and lyricists, was not entitled to claim or demand royalty or licence fees from a private FM channel for the recorded song and music it plays on its radio station. This means that the FM stations would now have to only deal with Phonographic Performances Limited for obtaining a licence to play the music.
The judge, however, clarified that the owners of the copyright—composers and lyricists—do not lose all their rights when they allow it to be recorded. “It does not prevent the owners of the copyright in the underlying musical and literary works from making any other sound recording embodying the same underlying work,” said Justice Vazifdar.
Senior advocate Navroz Seervai and advocate Sandeep Marne who represented IPRS argued that once a song is recorded the composers and lyricists do not lose their copyright over the work.
They claimed that the owners of the song are only paid to make a sound recording. “The owner of the sound recording must again approach the owner of the underlying works for a licence and pay the royalty if he wants to communicate it to the public by broadcast,” the advocates said.
Senior advocate Virendra Tulzapurkar opposed this argument saying that as the works of the lyricists and music composers are incorporated in a sound recording made by music companies, it is these companies who exclusively own the copyright over such recordings. The IPRS can claim royalty only when the song is performed live or another song is recorded, or the original song is remixed.

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