With respect to, the right of a Copyright Society to institute a
suit in its own name for infringement of Copyright, an appeal was
filed to the earlier decision rendered by the Delhi High Court in
Phonographic Performance Ltd. v. Hotel Gold Regency &
Ors. [2008 (37) PTC 587 (Del.)]. This decision in appeal
declared that a Copyright Society was held not liable to institute
a suit for copyright infringement without making the copyright
owner a party to the same. The present matter is an appeal to the
same filed via PPL v. Hotel Gold Regency &
Ors. (RFA (OS) No. 57 & 58 of 2008, in pursuance of which
an application under Order VII Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code
Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) is a company duly
incorporated and registered under the provisions of the Companies
Act, 1956 and registered as a Copyright Society under Section 33 of
the Copyright Act, 1957. Owners of Copyrights in various sound
recordings music have entered into agreements with PPL to enable
the administration of their rights by issuance of licenses in
respect thereof. The M/s Lizard Lounges, Hotel Gold Regency and
others are hotels, lounges, bars & restaurants who are alleged
to be unauthorizedly playing the sound recordings, which are being
administered by PPL. They assert that the suit is not maintainable
and any grievance could be agitated only by the owners of the
The Court in answering this application took note of the various
provisions concerning the matter as alluded under the Copyright
Act, 1957. The questions framed by the judges were also revisited
which dwelled around the maintainability of the suit under sections
33 and 34 of the Copyright Act, 1957 as also section 61 of the
Copyright Act, 1957, which deals with the rejection of a suit on
the ground of non-impleadment of a necessary party. Hearing the
application, the findings of the learned Single Judge were
revisited and the submissions advanced before the Bench were also
taken into consideration. The Division Bench in addressing the
present application took note of a subsequent pronouncement by the
Apex Court in M/s. Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. Vs. M/s.
Super Cassette Industries Ltd. 2008 (9) SCALE 69, which dealt with
the matter at hand. The Supreme Court therein carried out a broad
analysis of the provisions including the provisions relating to a
Copyright Society, succinctly setting out the rights and
obligations of a Copyright Society.
The Division bench noted that in the
context of the Statement of Objects and Reasons Chapter VII
providing for Copyright Societies was incorporated vide the
amendment of 1992 to meet the object of dealing more effectively
with the infringement of Copyright and related rights.
The Division Bench took note that Supreme Court in the M/s.
Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. case (supra) had unequivocally
observed that for all intents and purports the Copyright Society
stepped into the shoes of the author.
that both the mechanism for administration of the Copyrights as
also enforcement thereof The Division Bench, taking into account
another perspective stated that the Copyright Society may not have
exclusive rights, inasmuch as the owner continues to simultaneously
have rights to deal with his Copyright in the work. However, they
opined that the Statement of Objects and Reasons and the provisions
if read in that context clearly show was the intent of the
legislature while incorporating the provisions. The Bench noted
that the two aspects could not be segregated and differed with the
opinion of the Single Judge. They also opined that in view of
Section 17 of the said Act, the copyright owner could certainly
appoint an agent to institute legal proceedings. The appeals were
accordingly allowed, impugned judgments set aside with the
direction to restore the suits to their original numbers to be
proceeded with in accordance with law.
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