Punjab and Haryana High Court repeals Registrar of Copyrights notice It was hearing a petition filed by a company owning the copyright of sound recordings of Zee, Eros, and Tips The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed a public notice issued by the Registrar of Copyrights. It had permitted sound recordings to be played during religious ceremonies and wedding processions...
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Punjab and Haryana High Court repeals Registrar of Copyrights notice
It was hearing a petition filed by a company owning the copyright of sound recordings of Zee, Eros, and Tips
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed a public notice issued by the Registrar of Copyrights. It had permitted sound recordings to be played during religious ceremonies and wedding processions without obtaining a license from the copyright owner.
The single-judge Justice Raj Mohan Singh ruled that the notice granting such an exemption violated the protection granted to the copyright owners under the Copyright Act.
The court held, "The public notice seeks to impinge upon the fundamental rights and protections granted by the Constitution of India and is violative of Articles 13 and 14 of the Constitution. The protections granted by the Copyright Act are to be abridged by the public notice which is unsustainable."
The court was hearing a writ petition filed by Novex Communications Private Limited, a company owning the copyright of a large number of sound recordings of well-known music labels including Zee, Eros, and Tips.
The August 2019 notice issued by the Registrar of Copyrights to the respondent meant that utilization of any sound recording during a religious, or marriage ceremony would not amount to infringement of copyright. Hence, no license would be required to play such songs.
The petitioner then approached the high court contending that such an interpretation of codified law fell under the judicial and legislative domain. It was, therefore, contended that the respondent did not have the jurisdiction to embark upon a legislative task.
The court noted that the issue of whether sound recordings could be played during social functions had already been settled by various judgments. The single judge said that Section 52 exempted live performances when there was no commercial purpose and when no admission charges were used exclusively for educational, religious or charitable purposes and not for any financial gain.
The court ruled, "The question of whether certain acts would fall within the exempted categories as enumerated under Section 52(1) of the Act has to be decided according to facts of each case. In view of aforesaid, there cannot be general interpretation to the provision as given in the impugned public notice/letter."
It further stated that the public notice under challenge could be used by notorious elements to play sound recordings for commercial gains in commercial spaces. Therefore, the Registrar of Copyright had no authority to issue such notice since it did not have the authority under the Copyright Act to clarify or interpret the applicability of the law.
"The impugned public notice was also violative of the doctrine of separation of power as an attempt had been made by respondent No.2 to usurp the legislative power of enactment and judicial power of interpretation," the court added while quashing the notice.
While the Union government was represented by Advocate Sudhir Nar, the petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Gaurav Chopra briefed by Jasdeep Singh Dhillon and Harinder Bains of law firm MPS Legal.