Bombay High Court orders Private Radio channels to pay royalties for utilising copyrighted music

In a significant victory for music copyright in India, the Bombay High Court has ruled in favour of The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) in its case against private FM radio broadcasters.

Justice Manish Pitale of the Bombay High Court delivered the verdict in the cases titled IPRS v Rajasthan Patrika Pvt Ltd (FM Tadka) and IPRS v Music Broadcast Limited (Radio City), agreeing with IPRS that FM radio broadcasters must pay royalties for the utilisation of literary and musical works underlying sound recordings.

The court specifically held that IPRS has the right to claim royalties for literary and musical works exploited as part of sound recordings or in cinematograph films, and that the legal position regarding the ownership of authors and composers who create lyrics and musical compositions has changed as a result of the amendments made in 2012 to the Copyright Act 1957.

Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS, hailed the judgment as a landmark decision that protects the rights of authors and composers who are its members. He called on all users who exploit music without an IPRS license to comply with the law and support creators in India.

Javed Akhtar, Chairman of IPRS, expressed his delight at the ruling, saying that it recognizes the contributions of authors and composers whose creations have enthralled and inspired Indians and the world for decades. He thanked the Bombay High Court for the judgment, which places the creator back at the heart of copyright creation and serves as a great incentive for artists, the music industry, and the creation of copyright in India.

The court has directed the defendants to pay the royalties to IPRS as per the judgment of the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board dated December 31, 2020, within six weeks. Failure to do so will result in interim injunctions restricting the broadcast of music.

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