Delhi HC Refuses To Grant Ad-Interim Injunction To Saregama For Copyright Infringement

The Delhi High Court refused to grant ad-interim injunction to Saregama India Ltd. in its copyright infringement suit against Maddock Films Pvt. Ltd. for the song "Ke Odhni Odhu Odhu Ne Udi Jaye".

The Defendant is a film production company which is expecting release of its film 'Made in China', starring Rajkumar Rao and Mouni Roy, on October 25. The company released the said song featured in the film on September 19, which resulted in the present proceedings.

The Plaintiff regarded this failure to its insistence that the said license fee was only for the purposes of putting the song in the film and that it would retain the rest of the rights for commercial exploitation of the underlying work.

Notably, music label companies that own copyright of a song often retain rights of their recreated versions to exploit their publishing rights.

The Defendant on the other hand contested this position, stating that the Plaintiff received only limited rights from its predecessor company, The Gramophone Company of India Ltd., and thus it was not even entitled to the license fee as it did not hold any right in the song or the underlying work.

The Gramophone Company of India Ltd., owned by Electrical & Musical Industries Limited was overtaken by the RPG Group in 1985, giving it its current name, Saregama India Limited, in November 2000.

Interestingly, SONY Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd., which owns the music rights of the film, sought impleadment in the proceedings. It submitted that lyrics of the original song actually belonged to a folk song and hence were in public domain. It said,

"lyrical works are a folk song in which no one can claim ownership and thus cannot be assigned to anybody, and the underlying work of composition including sound recording of defendant in the song has already been assigned to SONY."

In view of the above arguments, Justice Mukta Gupta refused to grant any relief to the Plaintiff at an interim stage and posted the matter for November 4. He said,

"Considering the fact that the underlying rights in the composition have already been assigned to a third party who has not been impleaded as a defendant in the suit, at this stage this Court does not find it fit to grant an ad-interim injunction".

With regards to the Defendant's submission that the Plaintiff held no rights in the song whatsoever, the court directed it to furnish a security for a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs to the Registrar General of the High Court, as a matter of ad-interim measure.

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