Madras HC Admits Ilaiyaraaja’s Plea Seeking Copyright of Musical Work in 30 Films

The music composer has challenged a single judge’s order that barred him from claiming copyright over his work on feature films produced in the 1980s.

The Madras High Court on Monday, April 4, admitted a plea by music maestro Ilaiyaraaja to stay the enforcement of a single judge’s order that permanently barred him from claiming copyright to the entire musical work and sound recordings related to 30 feature films produced in South Indian languages. during the 1980s.

The Division Bench consisting of Judges M Duraiswamy and TV Tamil Selvi, which admitted the claim, ordered notice to the defendants – Indian Record Manufacturing Company Limited (INRECO) in Chennai, Agi Music Sdn Bhd in Malaysia and Unisys Info Solutions Private Limited in Haryana – consigned in two weeks. The claim arose out of a civil suit brought by the music maestro.

INRECO originally sued Ilaiyaraaja and the other two companies (2nd and 3rd defendants in this appeal) seeking a permanent injunction restraining them from infringing in any way upon his right to author on all the musical works and sound recordings contained in the mentioned appendix. movies in any way. A single judge by an order issued on February 13, 2020 granted the requested relief.

Now, based on the order, INRECO is trying to commercially exploit copyrights in musical works. Unless an interim stay of execution of the order is passed, he would suffer huge losses and hardships, Ilaiyaraaja argued.

Among other things, Ilaiyaraaja argued that INRECO claimed exclusive copyright based on the agreement with the respective film producers, assuming that the respective film producers were the owners of the musical works. , while Ilaiyaraaja, who was the producer and composer of the original musical work, claimed copyright in his musical work as the author and producer of the work.

The contested order lacked jurisdiction and the single judge had erred in the exercise of his jurisdiction. The INRECO lawsuit and the related original claim were commercial disputes within the meaning of the Commercial Courts Act 2015 and were also of specified value. Therefore, he should have been transferred to the Commercial Division of the Madras High Court under this Act.

Failure to do so constituted an error of jurisdiction insofar as a commercial dispute had been decided by a non-commercial tribunal. Also, in the 1980s, when the deals with these record companies were signed, there was no digital media rights assignment. Therefore, they could not claim these rights now.

The important amendment on this came into force in 2012 and these amendments were not considered by the single judge, he argued. Digital media rights were not recognized in India until 1996. Agreements, made before 1996, could not be judged, the appellant argued.

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