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TIPS vs Wynk: Music streaming does not fall under statutory licensing provision, Bombay High Court decides

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The Hon’ble Bombay High Court’s decision of April 23, 2019 in Tips Industries LTD v Wynk Music LTD (Airtel) which held that online music streaming and digital downloads are not covered under the Statutory licensing provision of the Copyright Act, 1957 is a significant boost for the entire recorded music industry in India.

This decision paves the way for the future of licensing to digital services in India and will benefit the Industry as well as users of music. IMI the trade body that represents the interest of the recorded music industry in India has welcomed the verdict of the Bombay High Court in the Tips vs Wynk matter.

“This decision confirms IMI’s consistent stand that internet streaming services are not covered under Section 31D of the Copyright Act,1957. As an Industry we noted the intention of our Parliament to provide involuntary licensing benefits under the Copyright Act, 1957 and are very encouraged that the Hon’ble Court has now clarified the intention of our lawmakers did not include streaming services under the statutory licensing scheme,“ said Blaise Fernandes, President of IMI. 

Tips Industries Ltd, who has been a member of IMI has sued Wynk Music, Airtel’s music streaming service. Wynk claimed the benefit of the statutory licensing provision.

The Court disagreed with the argument that streaming was covered under the ambit of statutory licensing provisions.  In reaching this conclusion the court examined the intention of the Parliament and the provision.

“This is true justice and I humbly bow in respect to the Indian judiciary. It’s been a long and trying process but we prevailed and justice was served. I’m very happy that the Indian judiciary believed in not only Tips but the whole music industry and vindicated what was right. We are not in a business to arm twist or provoke unnecessary actions onto our partners in the OTT business; but in our case in particular; Wynk was very unfair,”  Kumar Taurani, MD, Tips, said after reading the court order.

According to Taurani, Wynk as an internet music streaming service has valuations in millions, despite that it still refuses to pay to music labels a few crores of rupees for the labels’ music content, which is the heart of Wynk’s OTT streaming service. OTT players until this judgement continued to corner Tips.

As per the IFPI GMR Report internet streaming in India contributes to 70% of the revenues of the recorded music industry. The decision of the court is expected to boost the online music licensing business in India further.

 

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