The Delhi High Court has appointed Dr. Arul George Scaria as an expert to assist it in the interpretation of sec. 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act, 1957 to the extent of fair use and fair dealing of sound recordings in marriage ceremonies and weddings.
Dr. Scaria is the Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director, Centre for Innovation, IP and Competition at National law University, Delhi.
Justice Pratibha M Singh was of the view that the issue raised would have large scale implications for artists such as lyricists, music composers, singers, sound recording producers and owners on the one hand as also, for entities involved in the organisation and management of weddings and other social events.
"The issue would also concern society in general," the Court added.
It also said "This Court is of the opinion that, in the Indian context, music is an integral part of any wedding or marriage ceremony. The kind of music played typically ranges from devotional or spiritual music for the purposes of the marriage ceremony to popular music in various languages. Apart from the actual marriage ceremony itself, there are other ceremonies such as tilak, sagan, cocktail parties, dinner, mehndi, sangeet, etc., which have become an integral part of the wedding festivities. In all such ceremonies also music is played. The above provision was inserted into the statute by virtue of The Copyright Amendment Act 1994 w.e.f.10th May 1995."
Accordingly, the Court directed the expert to file a written note of submissions on the issue raised and also to consider the legislative history of the provision and cite relevant case law, from India and abroad on the question of fair use and fair dealing.
The Court was dealing with a suit filed by Phonographic Performance Limited engaged in the business of issuance of licenses for public performance/communication to the public of sound recordings on the basis of assignments granted to it by its member record labels, i.e., owners of copyright in sound recordings.
The Plaintiff sought an injunction against the Defendant, Lookpart Exhibitions and Events Private Ltd., an event management company, providing various event management services, including DJ services for various social events, such as weddings.
The case of the Plaintiff was that the Defendant was using sound recordings in respect of which the Plaintiff had rights, at various social events managed and organised by it at commercial venues, on a regular basis.
It was submitted that the Defendant, while organising its events, including weddings or marriage ceremonies and other social events, ought to obtain licences for playing music. However, according to the Plaintiff, the Defendant had refused to obtain a license despite correspondence having been addressed to the Defendant.
On the other hand, the Defendant relied upon the Explanation to sec. 52(1)(za) to argue that when music is to be played for the purposes of marriage ceremonies or other social events connected with marriages, including a marriage procession, the use of music is deemed to be fair use, and hence, no licence would be required.
Keeping the significance of the issue to be adjudicated in mind, the Court was of the opinion that the opinion of an expert would be of it's assistance.
The matter will now be heard on 6th July, 2022.
Case Title: PHONOGRAPHIC PERFORMANCE LIMITED v. LOOKPART EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS PRIVATE LIMITED
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 457