Phonographic Performance Ltd. vs Union of India
Date of Order:
9 March, 2022
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Yogesh Khanna
Petitioner: Phonographic Performance
Respondent: Union of India
The Copyright Rules, 2013, aim to provide a comprehensive set of rules to protect the rights of copyright holders and ensure fair compensation for their works. These rules have been implemented in accordance with international conventions and agreements with other countries. Copyright registration is a crucial step in protecting the intellectual property rights of creators. By registering their work, they can establish proof of ownership and make it easier to enforce their rights in case of infringement. The Copyright Rules, 2013, provide guidelines and procedures for the registration of copyright.
Copyright Act 1957
- Section 33
Copyright Rules, 2013
- Rule 47
- Rule 49
- The petitioner "Phonographic Performance Limited", a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956, was also a registered copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act.
- After the introduction of section 33(3A) to the Copyright Act, existing copyright societies were mandated to apply for a new registration post the amendment within a year.
- Further on 14th March 2013, the Copyright Rules were introduced through which copyright societies applying for re-registration had to file an application in Form IX within a period of two months.
- The petitioner, within one year from the enactment of the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012, and within two months from the enactment of the Copyright Rules 2013, filed an application for re-registration.
- The petitioner contended that Respondent 1 did not decide on the application for over a year. After a one-year wait, the Petitioner began organizing its business as the delay impacted its ability to conduct business and thus filed for withdrawal of the application with the intention of filing a fresh application. However, the withdrawal request was rejected by the first respondent.
- Thus, the plaintiff filed an application under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 of the CPC seeking an interim injunction and restraining the defendants from playing recordings which formed part of the plaintiff’s collection without obtaining any license from the plaintiff.
- Whether the impugned order passed by Respondent No.1 violates the principles of natural justice?
- Whether the petitioner's application for re-registration is maintainable?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The counsel for the plaintiff contended that the Registrar of Copyright is required to perform ministerial functions under the direction of the Copyright Board. Therefore, it is outside the scope of jurisdiction or power of the Registrar to grant any license beyond what was sought for, and adjudicated upon, by the Copyright Board.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The counsel argued by the counsel for respondents that the writ petition is not maintainable because of the existence of an alternate and efficacious remedy available to the petitioners under Section 72 of the Copyright Act. Since the petitioner delayed in filing this appeal (the time limit is 3 months) they have knowingly filed these petitions before this Court.
- The Hon’ble Court set aside the Registrar of Copyright’s order of May 2021 which dismissed PPL’s application for re-registration as a copyright society, which had initially been filed in 2013.
- Hon’ble Justice Yogesh Khanna viewed that the said order suffers from a breach of the principles of natural justice and is a ‘non-speaking’ order. Therefore, the application was sent back to the Registrar of Copyright for fresh consideration on the merits.
- It was also viewed by the court that since there are no separate rules regarding the hearing on re-applications, Rules 49 and 47 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 would come in handy while considering applications for re-registration as it would be equally applicable.
- The Court agreed with the Petitioner’s contentions that the impugned order passed by Respondent 1 was completely erroneous, incorrect, unreasoned, and arbitrary and against the principles of natural justice and that Respondent 1 arrived at a conclusion without reviewing the facts and law.
- The Court after considering various case laws and arguments made by the Respondents as well as the Petitioner stated that there was non-application of the mind by Respondent 1 in rejecting the application of the Petitioner without giving an opportunity of being heard. Respondent 1 failed to decide the application on the merits and dismissed it on no valid grounds.
In this famous judgment, the High Court of Delhi specified that Rules 49 and 47, though stipulating conditions only for registration would be equally applicable to applications for re-registration as well. Even though there is no separate rule for hearing applications for re-registration, it cannot be said that the principles of natural justice would apply only to cases of fresh registration and not to applications for re-registration.