18 February 2019

Copyright suit by owner who is not a copyright society, maintainable

In a case involving copyright in sound recording, the Delhi High Court has held that an individual owner, despite having granted license to copyright society, can further grant licenses with respect to copyright works owned by him, and sue the infringer.

Interpreting the  latter part of the first Proviso to Section 33(1) of Copyright Act, the court was of the view that if the owner of the copyright work has retained with himself the right to give license, although the license is also granted to the copyright society, then such an individual owner can further keep granting licenses with respect to the copyright works owned by him.

The court in the case of Novex Communication Pvt. Ltd. v. Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd. rejected the plea that only a copyright society registered under the Copyright Section 33, is entitled to grant licenses and collect license fee or royalty, and since the appellant is not a registered society, it cannot claim license or royalty and sue for infringement.

The court further observing the difference between musical work and sound recording, held that when the second Proviso to Section 33(1) talks of issuing or granting of license with respect to the musical work in sound recordings, it is only for the musical work in the sound recording and not the sound recording itself. It was of the view that second proviso to Section 33(1) does not prohibit licensing by individual not being the copyright society.

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