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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Madras HC declares wife as copyright owner of literary works of Pulavar Keeran

Rejecting the claims of the defendant that he was the first owner of the copyright as he was the author of the sound recording and that he had purchased the copyright for consideration, the judge pointed out that an assignment of copyright cannot be oral.

By: PTI | Chennai |
September 3, 2021 9:57:23 am
Madras High CourtMadras High Court. (File)

The Madras High Court has declared Sellappapa, the wife of late Pulavar Keeran, as the sole owner of the copyright of her husband’s literary works.

Justice R Subramanian made the declaration, while allowing a civil suit from Keeran’s wife on Wednesday.

Rejecting the claims of S Vijayaraghavan, proprietor of Vani Recording Company, the defendant in the case, the judge pointed out that there is no evidence to show that the recordings were made by Pulavar Keeran under any contract of service or during the course of his employment with the firm.

Therefore, the inevitable answer to the issue is that the plaintiff, as the legal heir of the author of the literary work, is entitled to the first copyright of the works of Pulavar Keeran, the judge said.

Rejecting the claims of the defendant that he was the first owner of the copyright as he was the author of the sound recording and that he had purchased the copyright for consideration, the judge pointed out that an assignment of copyright cannot be oral. Either a license or an assignment of a copyright has to be in writing in view of the specific provisions of Section 19 and 30 of the Copyright Act.

“Therefore, the claim of the defendant that he purchased the copyright by paying consideration cannot be accepted in the absence of any written agreement evidencing such assignment,” the judge said.

By virtue of the findings, the sales made by the defendant become unauthorised and therefore, he is liable to account for the sales to the plaintiff, who is the copyright holder, the judge added.

The judge allowed the suit with costs and directed the defendant to surrender all master tapes containing original speeches, lectures and discourses and works of late Pulavar Keeran or any other records audio cassettes, compact discs or any other media or device capable of reproducing the lectures, speeches and discourses contained in the schedule to the plaint.

The plaintiff (Sellappapa) would also be entitled to a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from using, copying, reproducing, selling distributing or broadcasting through radio, over the internet or any other media or in any manner exploiting or dealing with the records, audio cassettes, compact discs or any other storage device containing the speeches and lectures of late Pulavar Keeran. There will also be a preliminary decree for accounts for a period of three years prior to the filing of the suit and thereafter, the judge said.

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