Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) is back to square one. The Central Government of India has re-registered IPRS as a copyright society, under Section 33(3) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act). The Deputy Registrar of Copyrights issued the certificate on 28 November 2017.

By way of background, IPRS was originally constituted in the year 1969, as a company limited by guarantee under the erstwhile Companies Act, 1956. Two decades later, the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1994 was passed which required all copyright societies to be registered with the Central Government. At that time, in the year 1994, IPRS was the first one to be registered as a copyright society.

After about two decades later, in about June 2012, once again there was an amendment to the Act which mandated all the registered copyrights societies to be re-registered within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012. Thus, IPRS filed an application for its re-registration which did not fructify. Later, IPRS withdrew its application for the re-registration and continued its business of issuing or granting licenses in copyright works as owners of the works by virtue of assignments. In the case of M/s Event and Entertainment Management Association v. Union of India (CM No. 48304/2016) which involved bunch of litigants, IPRS contended that it is an assignee of various literary and musical works and therefore can enforce/license its right under Sections 18 and 30 of the Act. The Delhi High Court upheld this contention but directed IPRS (including others) to upload the copyright assignment deeds on their websites to enable others to identify the owners of the copyrighted works.

This re-registration of IPRS is likely to have positive impact in relation to the grant of licenses in the literary and musical works incorporated in a cinematographic films and sound recordings. Going forward IPRS would not be required to take refuge under Sections 18 and 30 of the Act as it can now legally carry on its business as per Section 33(1) of the Act. However, it has to effectively maintain the interests of the members, to ensure that they are not in detriment to its members.

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