It is no secret that the wrath of copyright societies like IPRS, PPL, Novex and the recent ISRA have been faced by all major hotels and event organizers in the past few years, especially during the festive seasons and around Christmas-New Year’s Eve. The recent turn of events in the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court may be a relief for few as issues related to the much long-sought clarity to and transparency in the functioning of these societies/ alleged associations have been finally addressed.

In a writ petition being W.P. (C) No. 12076/2016 titled M/s. Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) V. Union of India & Ors., EEMA (hereinafter, ‘Petitioner’) approached the Delhi High Court for issue of a writ of mandamus, directing the Union of India (hereinafter, ‘Respondent No. 1’) to hold an enquiry against other Respondents, namely, Indian Performing Rights Society/ IPRS (hereinafter, ‘Respondent No. 3’), Phonographic Performance Ltd./ PPL (hereinafter, ‘Respondent No. 4’) and Novex Communications (hereinafter, ‘Respondent No. 5’), for the alleged violation of Section 33 of the Indian Copyright Act. The Indian Copyright Office was the Respondent No. 2 herein.

Submissions of the Petitioner

  • Section 33 of the Copyright Act requires no person or association of persons, to take part in the issue of licenses of any copyrighted works on behalf of copyright owners. Copyright societies are essentially entities, which administer issuing of licences for copyrighted works on behalf of copyright owners.
  • Respondent nos. 3 & 4 were once registered Copyright Societies as per the Copyright Act, but are not registered anymore and are hitherto liable for acting in contravention of Section 33 of the Copyright Act, because of the fact that they have continued to take part in the business of issuing licenses even after lapse of their registration in 2013.
  • Petitioner also submitted that Respondent no. 5 was never registered as a Copyright Society.

Submission of the Respondents

  • Respondent no. 1 submitted that they have already initiated appropriate enquiry against Respondent nos. 3, 4, and 5 on having received complaints of violation against them.
  • Respondent no. 1 also submitted that, as an interim measure, a public notice has been displayed on the website of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) informing the public that Respondent nos. 3 and 4 are no longer registered as Copyright Societies.

(The said public notice as available on the DIPP website is available here.)