India: Copyright Society Under The Copyright Act, 1957


1.1 A 'copyright society' is a registered collective administration society for the management and protection of copyright in works by authors and other owners of such works. A copyright society can issue or grant licences in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other right given by the Copyright Act, 1957 (Copyright Act).1

1.2 In India, copyright protection is granted for original works of authorship in classes of work such as literary works (including computer programs, tables and compilations including computer databases which may be expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form, including a machine readable medium), dramatic, musical and artistic works, cinematographic films and sound recordings. Ordinarily, only one society is registered to do business in respect of the same class of work.


2.1 Copyright Act:

2.1.1 In India the Copyright Act governs the protection of copyright for original works. Copyright protects the rights of authors, i.e. creators of intellectual property in the form of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings, from unauthorized uses. Copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. Whereas, in the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

2.2 Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012:

2.2.1 The Copyright Act has been amended five times i.e., in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2012. The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 (Amendment) is of vital importance for the purpose of this article. The main reasons for Amendments include bringing it in conformity with international standards established by WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).2

2.2.2 With the Amendment changes were made in Section 33 of the Copyright Act, wherein Sub-section (3) A was inserted, the proviso to which stated that "every copyright society already registered before the coming into force of the copyright (amendment) Act, 2012 shall get itself registered under this chapter within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012." Other amendments include the introduction of Section 33A pertaining to Tariff scheme, omission of Section 34A, substitution of the phrase 'owners of rights' with 'authors and other owners of right' in Section 35 etc.


3.1 According the website of Copyright Office of India,3 following are the existing copyright societies in India:

  1. For musical works: The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) [Re-registration is pending] (Website:;
  2. For sound recording: Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) [Re-registration is pending] (Website:;
  3. For reprographic (photo copying) works: Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) [Re-registration has been rejected for non-completion of formalities as per the Rules] (Website:
  4. Society for Copyright Regulation of Indian Producers of Films and Television (SCRIPT) for cinematograph films. (for cinematograph and television films).
  5. For performers (Singers) Rights: Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA) registered on 14th June, 2013 (Website:


4.1 The Indian Phonographic Industry (IPI), the association of phonogram producers, was established in 1936. Subsequently, IPI members decided to form a specialised body to administer their public performance and broadcasting rights, and so Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) came into being in 1941. PPL got itself registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act as a copyright society.

4.2 Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) is a representative body of owners of music, viz. the composers, lyricists (or authors) and the publishers of music.4 It came into existence in 1969. It is a non-profit making organization and is a company limited by guarantee and registered under the Companies Act, 1956. After the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1994 which came into effect in 1995, IPRS got registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act as a Copyright Society to do the business of issuing licenses for usage of musical works and accompanying literary works.


5.1 The Amendment came into force on June 21, 2012 and hence as per the Amendment, IPRS and PPL were to re-register by June 21, 2013. Both the entities did apply for their re-registrations, but subsequently both withdrew their applications for re-registration with the copyright office and thereby expressed their desire to discontinue as registered copyright societies.

5.2 Due to their failure to re-register, IPRS and PPL, which were earlier copyright societies, automatically got de-registered on June 21, 2013 as a consequence of the Amendment. Both PPL and IPRS have chosen not to re-register as copyright societies but are now conducting business as private limited companies, registered under the Companies Act. According to Section 33 of the Copyright Act, the business of issuing or granting licences can only be carried out by a registered copyright society and as stated above IPRS and PPL ceases to be registered copyright societies since June 21, 2013.

5.3 In Leopold Café Stores v. Novex Communications Pvt. Ltd.5 the major issue looked into by the Bombay HC is whether Novex was entitled to grant licenses on behalf of Copyright Owners in various works? Brief facts of the case are that M/s Leopold Cafe, one of the most popular restaurants in Mumbai, obtained an order on June 26, 2014 against Novex Communications, claiming to be an authorized agent of Copyright Owners such as Yash Raj Films and Shemaroo. This order restrained Novex from issuing any licenses as per Section 33 of the Copyright Act, which prohibits any person or association of persons, with the exception of Copyright societies that are duly registered under the Act, from carrying out business of issuing or granting licenses.

5.4 In this case hon'ble Bombay HC observed that "every agent also "carries on business", but that is the business of agency, with the agent functioning as such, i.e., clearly indicating that it is acting on behalf of another, one who holds the copyright. This is the only manner in which both Section 33 and Section 30 can be harmonized. An absolute bar even on an agency, invoking Section 33, would undoubtedly run afoul of the plain language of Section 30 and render the words "or by his duly authorised agent" entirely otiose." After hearing both the parties, the Court held that Novex was not allowed to be in the business of issuing or granting licenses as per Section 33 of the Copyright Act. However, they could continue issuing licenses as an authorized agent of Copyright Owners under Section 30 of said Act.

5.5 Also, as a result of the Leopold Café case, the National Restaurants Association (NRAI) in December 2015 wrote letters to IPRS, PPL and Novex stating that all three companies are wrongly asserting rights to grant and issue license under Section 30 of the Copyright Act and that Section 33 mandates that the business of issuing and granting license should be carried out only by a registered copyright society.

5.6 Hence, applying the above judgment to the current situation of IPRS and PPL, it seems that there is a conflict between the application of Section 30 and 33 with regards issuing and granting of license. Further, it appears that the licenses can then be issued by PPL & IPRS only in the name of the copyright holder, and not in their own name. However, the practice of PPL and IPRS is quite clear that they issue licences in their own name and stage organisers are required to acquire licenses from them directly.


6.1 According to the Copyright Act, before using a recorded music in public it is necessary to obtain the licences from each and every right owner in the recording. Omitting to do so, results in a cognizable and non-bailable offence with huge penalties, which can extend up to 3 years and 2 lakhs respectively under Section 51 and Section 63 of Copyright Act. Hence it becomes important to procure the appropriate license from either the duly registered copyright society or the individual owner of copyright.

6.2 There seems to be conflict in the interpretation of Section 30 and 33 of the Copyright Act as they seem to overlap each other. The Bombay HC's judgment will affect the licensing of music through third parties such as IPRS, PPL and Novex. According to it, IPRS and PPL cannot function within the ambit of Section 33 of the Copyright Act, as they are not registered copyright societies. If at all they wish to continue to be in business, they must transform their functioning to suit the legalities of Sections 30 and 33 of the Copyright Act. Also not being registered as a copyright society seriously hampers their ability to initiate legal proceedings because Section 55 of the Copyright Act allows only owners or exclusive licensees of copyrighted work to initiate legal proceedings for the infringement of a copyright. Therefore, as an agent, such companies may not be able to initiate legal proceedings. We hope to have more clarity very soon.






5 Leopold Café Stores v. Novex Communications Pvt. Ltd 2014(6) BomCR 394.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.