Music Copyright

Musical Composition consists of  music, as written, including any accompanying words. The author of a musical composition is generally the composer and the lyricist .A musical composition can be in the form of a notated copy like sheet music, or in a sound recording, such as a master recording or a phonorecord, such as an LP, cassette tape, CD or a digital phone record “DPD,” such as an MP3 or other digital file. 

Section 17 States First Owner of Copyright

First owner of copyright, assignment of copyright, when copyright infringed, violation of copyright, certain acts not to be infringement of copyright, sound recording copyright, remedy in the case of groundless threat of legal proceedings, jurisdiction of court, offence of infringement of copyright.

Copyright Act, 1957

Music Composer

In relation to a musical work, means the person who composes the music regardless of whether he records it in any form of graphical notation[1]

The rights of a music composer or lyricist can be defeated by the producer of a cinematograph film in the manner laid down I provisions (b) and (c) of Section 170f the Act. [2]

Meaning of Word Import

In interpreting the word “import” in the Music Copyright Act, not more must be taken of, of the fact that while the positive requirement of the Copyright Conventions is to protect copyright, negatively also, the transit Trade Convention and the bilateral Treaty make exceptions enabling the transit State to take measure to protect Gramophone Co. of India Ltd. v/s Birendra Bahadur Pandey

Violation of Music Copyright

There can be no copyright in an idea, subject matter, themselves, plots or historical or legendary facts and violation of the copyright in such cases in confined to the form, manner and arrangement and expression of the idea by the author of the copyright worm. Where the same idea is being developed in a different manner, it is manifest that the source being common, similarities are bound to occur. In such a case the courts should determine whether or not the similarities are on fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyright work. If the defendant’s work is nothing but a literal imitation of the copyright work with some variations here and there it would amount to violation of the copyright. In other words, in order to be actionable the copy must be a substantial and material one which at once leads to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of an act of piracy.[3]

Section 60 states

Remedy in the case of groundless threat of legal proceedings

Scope of.-A “cease and desist” notice in a copyright action cannot particularly in view of Section 60 of the Act, be termed to be a mere notice. Such a threat may give rise to the right to institute a suit to counter such threat and to ask for :relief on the ground that the alleged infringement to which the threat related was not in fact an infringement of any legal right of the person making such Threat. [4]Section 63 states Offence of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by this Act

Infringement of Music Copyright

Under the Act of 1957, the registration of the book with the Registrar of Copyrights is a condition for acquiring copyright respect to it. A copyright in a book now is secured only if it is an original Compilation and has been duly registered according to provisions of 1957 Act.[5]

Once it is so registered the author is deemed to acquire properly right in it. The right arising from the registration of the book can be the subject matter of civil or criminal remedy, so that without it the author can have no rights nor remedies though his work may be original one. [6]

The contempt jurisdiction should be confined to the question whether has been any deliberate disobedience of the order of the court and if the conduct of the party who is alleged to have committed such disobedience is contumacious. The court exercising contempt jurisdiction is not entitled to enter into questions which have not been dealt with and decided in the judgment or order, violation of which is alleged by the applicant. [7]

Distribution and Performance of Musical Works 

Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright in original musical works, the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly.

That means that you must obtain the authority to either

1) make and distribute copies of a musical work, or

2) to publicly perform a musical work. See: Modernizing Music Licensing to Promote Innovative Business Models

Distribution and Performance of Sound Recordings

Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright in a sound recording of a musical work, the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

That means that you must obtain the authority to either

1) make and distribute copies of the sound recordings, or

2) to publicly perform the sound recordings, by means of a digital transmission.

[1] Indian Copyright Act 1957 section 2 (ff)(a)

[2]Indian Performing Right Society, Ltd. v. Eastern India Motion Picture Association

[3]Anand R.G, v/s M/ s. Delux Films

[4]Exphar SA & Anr v Eupharma Laboratories Ltd & Anr

[5]Indian Copyright Act 1957 section 52 (a)

[6]B.K. Dani v/s State of M.P

[7]Jhareswar Prasad Paul & Anr v/s Tarak Nath Ganguly & Ors

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