The Delhi High Court appoints an expert to assist in the fair dealing of sound recordings during marriage ceremonies under s. 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act

The Delhi High Court appointed Dr Arul George Scaria as an expert to assist in the interpretation of art. 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act 1957 to the extent of fair dealing and equitable use of sound recordings of marriage ceremonies and weddings.

Dr. Scaria is Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition at National Law University, Delhi.

Judge Pratibha M Singh was of the view that the issue raised would have wide-ranging implications for artists such as lyricists, music composers, singers, producers and owners of sound recordings on the one hand, as well as for the entities involved in the organization and management of weddings and other social events.

“The question would also concern society in general”, added the Court.

He also said “This Court is of the view that, in the Indian context, music is an integral part of any marriage or marriage ceremony. The type of music played usually varies from devotional or spiritual music for the purposes of the wedding ceremony to popular music in various languages. Apart from the actual wedding ceremony, there are other ceremonies such as tilak, sagan, cocktails, dinner, mehndi, sangeet, etc. which have become an integral part of the wedding festivities. In all these ceremonies, music is also played. The above provision was brought into law under the Copyright (Amendment) Act 1994 on 10 May 1995.”

Accordingly, the Court ordered the expert to file a written note of observations on the issue raised and also to review the legislative history of the provision and cite relevant case law, from India and India. foreigner on the question of fair use and fair use.

The Court dealt with an action brought by Phonographic Performance Limited, which was in the business of issuing licenses for the public performance/communication to the public of sound recordings on the basis of assignments granted to it by its record companies members, i.e. the copyright owners. 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 plaintiff’s case was that the defendant used sound recordings to which the plaintiff had rights, at various social events run and organized by him in commercial venues, on a regular basis.

It was argued that the defendant, while organizing its events, including weddings or wedding ceremonies and other social events, had to obtain licenses to play music. However, according to the plaintiff, the defendant had refused to obtain a license despite correspondence sent to the defendant.

On the other hand, the defendant relied on the explanation for sec. 52(1)(za) to argue that where the music is to be played for the purposes of wedding ceremonies or other social events connected with marriages, including a wedding procession, the use of the music is considered a fair use and therefore no license would be required.

Bearing in mind the importance of the question to be decided, the Court is of the opinion that the opinion of an expert would be useful to it.

The case will now be heard on July 6, 2022.


Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 457

Click here to read the order

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