EEMA (Event & Entertainment Management Association) had a successful day in the Delhi High Court today. For the first time, PPL, IPRS, Novex, and other licensing entities have been forced by the court to prove their ownership of copyright. Moreover, they are required to publish all their assignments, agreements, chain of ownership, etc. online and list on their website, thereby making it available to all stakeholders.
EEMA would also like to advise the entertainment industry to not be fooled by the propaganda that is currently being put out by the vested interests and the agents of PPL/IPRS/Novex and the licensing agents who have been helping event organisers obtain licenses from them. They are part of the vested interests and would like to project this as a win for PPL/IPRS and Novex, since they can continue to claim copyright fees without having to prove ownership.
In reality, EEMA believes that copyright fees should be paid to the rightful creators and owners of copyright in a transparent and reasonable manner so that the rightful owners receive their due and the rates being charged are logical and reasonable. The orders of the court are a big step in this direction. This was in continuation of the writ petition that EEMA had filed in the court wherein it had received an Injunction against PPL/IPRS & NOVEX on the 23rd against charging royalty under section 33 (as a registered copyright society).
The writ petition was challenged by PPL, IPRS, and Novex. The respondents were represented by more than 20 senior Advocates including the previous law minister Dr. Ashwani Kumar who made strong arguments to the court requesting that the interim order passed by the court on the 23rd be vacated and that EEMA should put in a bank guarantee if its members do not want to take the music license.
The court was convened before the Vacation Judge today only to hear the above matter.
Sr. Advocate Ramji Srinivasan backed by TMT Law (EEMA’s lawyers) appeared before the court and spoke for over 90 minutes explaining the entire situation to the Hon Judge in great detail. There were several rounds of discussions and cross questioning that took place in the hearing, which lasted for over 4 hours in the Delhi High Court today.
EEMA was able to secure the interests of its members and get significant reliefs from the court at the end of the hearing. Some of the points that resulted were as follows:
1. The Judge did NOT cancel or vacate the previous order. So, the injunction obtained by EEMA against the collection of licence fees under Section 33 (reserved for copyright societies) by these parties continues. PPL, IPRS, and Novex have accepted in court that they are not copyright societies.
2. As a result, copyright licence fees can only be collected under Section 30, which is reserved for owners of the copyright with the clear proviso that when called upon to do so, they need to prove their ownership.
3. The court has provided a process for the licensing in the immediate interim period:
- EEMA members/the event organizer will provide PPL/IPRS/Novex a list of songs that they intend to play BEFORE the event on mail.
- The respondents (PPL/IPRS/Novex) will thereafter need to confirm in writing if they own the tracks mentioning the assignment no./details on the invoice.
- The event organizers will pay the amount before the event as per mutual negotiation with the copyright owner.
- The license issuing company/entity shall provide proof by way of legal agreements within 7 days of the invoice, to the satisfaction of the event organizer.
- In case the event organizer is not satisfied by the proof provided, a refund can be claimed through the courts. The money will not be appropriated till such time that the matter is mutually resolved.
4. Additionally, PPL/IPRS/Novex are required to put up a detailed list on their website listing all songs they own including the names of the authors/producers they have acquired them from, along with the dates of validity of the contract until 31st December 2016.
5. In addition to this, the licensing companies, without fail, also need to upload the valid legal agreements by which they claim ownership of these tracks, by 31st December, which will be available for all to see and check.
6. The Court instructed PPL/IPRS/Novex to set up an online payment gateway within 1 month of this hearing wherein we will be able to easily obtain permissions online.
7. IPRS has been given a period of 15 days to complete this entire process.
EEMA is awaiting a copy of the written court orders and will circulate the same along with any further amendments to the above note.
Over the next few weeks, EEMA will work with the legal experts to ensure that the matter is pursued to its logical conclusion and a reasonable tariff structure and transparent process with accountability is put into place.