Recently, the Bombay High Court, on 25th July 2011, in the case of Music Broadcast Private Limited v. Indian Performing Right Society, upheld the rights of the music companies over sound recordings, to the exclusion of the lyricists and composers whose works were the underlying materials for the sound recording. The decision seems to have a generated some negative criticism, though in the opinion of the authors, such criticism is quite unjustified.
The legal issues surrounding the rights of producers of films (and sound recordings) versus the rights of the authors in the underlying works (lyrics, musical composition) have been debated for some time now. Despite the matter having been seemingly settled by the Supreme Court in IPR Society v EIMP Association , legal debate has continued. The Supreme Court in that case was dealing with the question of rights of lyricists and composer versus that of producers of cinematograph films. One may draw two independent and yet, related principles from the Supreme Court’s decision, which is equally applicable to both cinematograph films and sound recordings.
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(The authors are Associates, Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan, New Delhi)