Concept & Editing by: Dr. Niti Dewan
In its recent judgment, in the case of Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd. vs. Super Cassette Industries Ltd., the Delhi High Court has held that the Copyright Board can issue interim orders under Sec. 31 of the Copyright Act. Now, the exploitation of the copyrighted work under Sec. 31 will not be hampered during the pendency of the suit. Section 31 deals with the power of the copyright board to direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant compulsory license.
The judgment took support from common law cases to explain the origin of the circumstances in which an ad interim injunction can be and should be granted. It also spoke about Polini vs. Gray ((1879) L.R. 12 Ch. D.438) to justify any grant of such an injunction in the absence of express statutory power.
The Hon'ble High Court further elucidated the point that interim orders can be passed even where the concerned statute does not expressly grant such power. The judgment also tried to discern the intention of the statute and reasoned out the necessity for copyright board being entitled to pass such an order.
The Hon’ble Court stated “If interim relief is impermissible, the broadcasters will be disentitled to play any part of the repertoire of music owned by the copyright holder because of the latter refusing to grant a license. This will, in effect, compel the broadcaster, or any party similarly placed, into succumbing to the demands of the owners. Litigation does not come to an end in days or months but is protracted over years and sometimes decades. If during this period, a party is unable to play or broadcast music, even though it is willing to pay a reasonable fee for it, and even though there is no other reasons for the refusal to grant a licence, it will have no alternative but to eventually give up its action under Section 31 of the Act. The purpose of the enactment will, therefore, be rendered futile and nugatory. It, therefore, appears plain to us that the Board must, after giving the parties a meaningful opportunity of being heard, return an opinion on all the three factors mentioned above viz. prima facie case, balance of convenience and irreparable loss. If it finds that all the three factors are in favour of the applicant, it should grant interim relief. It seems to us that where the controversy concerns only the quantum of licence fee, an interim protection should be granted.”
This judgment thus empowers the Copyright Board to pass interim orders during the pendency of proceeding under Sec 31. To read the full judgment please click here.