India: Determination Of Terms Of Broadcasting Licence: Music Choice Ordered To Approach Copyright Board

Last Updated: 18 May 2009

Royalty and Remuneration to be paid to a Copyright Society can often come under the spotlight of contention. Deciding upon the jurisdiction of a Civil Court to decide upon such a dispute in view of the authority vested in the Copyright Board is the case of Music Choice India Pvt. Ltd. v. Phonographic Performance Ltd. [2009 (39) PTC 597 (Bom.)]

The present suit was filed by Music Choice India Pvt. Ltd., a broadcaster of music on television and operating through local operators of Satellite, cable and Internet platform against Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL), a society registered as a Copyright society under the Copyright Act. Music Choice in order to broadcast music had sought governmental clearances and licenses, as also from the owner(s) of the Copyright in sound recordings to broadcast their music. PPL, an assignee of rights of several owners who are the record publishing companies, was also approached for a license to broadcast their sound records. Music Choice made an offer that it considered reasonable; however, the same was not acceptable to PPL. Music Choice claims that PPL demanded an unreasonable royalty from broadcasters, such itself Plaintiff, which compelled them to approach the Copyright Board and the Civil Court. Music Choice' case was that the royalty claimed by PPL was excessive and arbitrary which, as a creation of the Statute (the Act), were not at liberty to claim.

Music Choice averred that the purpose and object of the statutory provision was to disallow the owner of the Copyright or his assignee to refuse the allowance of its communication to the public by broadcast and must do so on reasonable terms. Music Choice contended that those reasonable terms were essentially what they considered reasonable and not what PPL might seem reasonable.

The Counsel for Music Choice clarified that they had not sought any order and direction from this Court as to the extent of the royalty to be paid or the rate of the royalty to be fixed by this Court, which they conceded to be in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Copyright Board. They clarified that their suit was for an order and declaration that they were entitled to a licence to broadcast the present and future sound recordings of PPL on payment of royalty and compensation subject to the terms and conditions determined by the Copyright Board on their application already filed on 4 July 2007 for compulsory licence under Section 31(1)(b) of the Act. Music Choice's suit also prayed for an injunction against PPL restraining them from interfering with the broadcast of the sound recordings of PPL upon the payment of royalty or compensation fixed by the Copyright Board and upon the terms and conditions determined by the Board.

PPL contended that only the Copyright Board could determine the amount of reasonable royalty or compensation, if it is not agreed between the parties upon following the procedure laid down in Section 31(1)(b) of the Act. In this view, PPL contended that Music Choice's suit for declaration and injunction was not maintainable in a Civil Court, falling outside the purview of Section 9 of the C.P.C. However, the counsel for Music Choice asserted that they had not sought relief to grant them the licence to republish or broadcast the sound recordings assigned to PPL or to decide the extent of the fee as compensation, or royalty payable therefore. Hence, they contended that the Court's inherent jurisdiction was not barred and the jurisdiction of the Copyright Board under Section 31(1) (b) is preserved. In regard to these arguments, the Court contemplated that if it would pass a declaration in favour of Music Choice, pending the decree of the Copyright Board, the same would amount to allowing a party to commence business without obtaining a licence because he has applied for one. The Court also took note of the fact that Music Choice had obtained an ad interim order to broadcast the sound recordings assigned to PPL pending the suit without determination of the merits of its offer.

The Court taking view of the procedure laid down in the Act, noted that the Copyright Board was free to accept or decline the terms of the complainant as reasonable as also impose further terms and conditions if necessary including a direction to make such payment of fee as royalty or compensation, as it considered reasonable. Taking note of the fact that relief had been claimed from two fora, the Court took note of Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code to determine if it was vested with the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the present matter.

Music Choice relying upon an ad interim injunction passed earlier in a similar suit in the year 2001 on the premise that the Copyright Board met only once or twice a year and that Music Choice would not be able to start their radio station to broadcast the sound recordings since they would not be able to get their application decided expeditiously. It was noted that therein, a Copyright Board was directed to be moved at an early date so that the dispute could be resolved in accordance with the Act. The Court expressed its hope and trust that if such an application was moved, the Board would consider it sympathetically. The Court noted that herein the Copyright Board had already been moved and that they would decide the matter.

The Court took note of the judgments placed before them, pertinently the case of Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. Vs. Super Cassette Industries, in which the Supreme Court has held that the provisions of Section 31 were deliberated upon, which stated that an implied bar of the jurisdiction of Civil Courts in such cases existed. The Court opined that Music Choice could have enforced the rights under the Act before the Copyright Board by following the procedure prescribed by that law.

In the presence of the entire procedure for redressal laid out, the Court opined that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to grant the final relief in the Suit by trying it, but could not also grant any injunction to prevent interference of Music Choice's broadcast under the agreement or the licence which becomes enforceable under the Copyright Act itself. In view of the prayers made, the Court concluded that while the defendant opposes the remedy of injunction, it was outlandish as it is ill-conceived to try that prayer for want of the Court's inherent jurisdiction. The Court also mentioned that there is nothing in the Act to prevent the Copyright Board from passing any interim order of determination of reasonable fee by way of royalty or compensation payable by Music Choice, if an application in that behalf is made and a prima facie case is made out. In this pursuance, the ad interim order already passed in this Suit was allowed to continue for 4 weeks following the present order, while Music Choice was directed to approach the Copyright Board to avail of a relief in the matter.

© Lex Orbis 2009

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.