In a major step towards protecting the rights of singers in India, the Delhi High Court has directed a Delhi-based restaurant to stop playing music or performing songs in any manner without obtaining permission from the Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA).
The bench of Justice S Muralidhar has also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 — on Delhi-based Chapter 25 bar and restaurant — for playing music without obtaining a certificate or paying royalty.
Following an amendment to the Copyright Act in 2012, ISRA was created to protect the rights of singers and collect royalties on their behalf. The amendment had given singers the right to get royalties for public performances of their songs. Any public performance of the work of a singer in India cannot be held without payment of royalty to the singer and clearance from the ISRA.
ISRA had approached the Delhi High Court last year against the restaurant.
The association represents 282 artistes, including Lata Mangeshkar, Sonu Nigam, Arijit Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan and Kailash Kher.
According to the plea filed by ISRA, the restaurant had been playing music without obtaining the necessary clearance or payment of royalty.
In its judgment issued on August 12, the bench of Justice S Muralidhar held, “The playing of songs by the defendant in its restaurant without payment of royalty to the plaintiff is a violation of the R3 (Right to Receive Royalty) of the performers who are members of the plaintiff. The exploitation of the performances of the members of the plaintiff by the defendant by playing the said performances in its bar and restaurant without obtaining the performer’s Rights Clearance Certificate thus constitutes an infringement of the R3 of the members of the Plaintiff Society.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, advocate Pravin Anand, who had represented ISRA, said that the singers’ right to royalty was a “new right” under the Copyright Act and was “not very well known.”
Under the Copyright Act, royalties have to be paid to the composer of the song, the person who owns the copyright to the song as well as to the singer.