WHY DON’T WE SYNC?

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INTRODUCTION

In a recent order, Saregama India Ltd. secured an injunction against Excel Media and Entertainment LLP & Ors., restricting the Defendants from using the song ‘Ye Mera Dil Yaar Ka Deewana’ (“said Song”) in a show titled ‘Mirzapur’ (“said Show”). The Defendants are producers of the said Show, its season 1 is available on Amazon Prime Video.

The said Show promises 9 (nine) action packed episodes, and caught is 1 (one) such episode; episode no. 6 (six) in the midst of action (read litigation) of its own. In recent times where censorship of content on OTT is making talks, alleged unauthorized usage of a song in the episode titled ‘Barfi’ of the said Show was the reason Saregama India Ltd. took producers of the said Show to Court. The said Song is from the famous Indian film Don.

DOCUMENTS RELIED ON

Sr. No. Document Details Parties to the Document
1. Agreement dated 30th September, 1975 Gramophone Company

And

M/s. Nariman Films

2. Renewal Letter dated 13th August, 1977 Gramophone Company

And

M/s. Nariman Films

3. Agreement dated 7th August, 2006 Excel Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
4. Notice dated 22nd November, 2018 Saregama India Pvt. Ltd.

 

DETAILS OF THE ORDER

  1. Plaintiff had claimed ownership in the sound recording and literary works in the songs of the cinematograph film ‘Don’ which was perpetually assigned to the Plaintiff vide agreement dated 30th September, 1975 (Gramophone Company is the predecessor in interest of the Plaintiff).
  2. Counsel representing the Plaintiff had stated that the aforementioned rights in the Said Film were recognized by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court in a judgment dated 17th October, 2006 (However, nothing from the judgment is reproduced in the present order. It also appears that the judgment is unreported.)
  3. The Defendant placing reliance on the agreement dated 7th August, 2006, stated rightful usage of the said Song, however, a perusal of the aforementioned agreement by the Court resulted otherwise.
  4. The Plaintiff vide its notice dated 22nd November, 2018, notified Defendant no. 1 of its infringement. In reply, Defendant no. 1 vaguely states that it has the requisite permission from Defendant no. 2 and provides no additional information or supporting.

 

CONLCUSION

  1. On hearing the audio recording of the said Song played in the said Show, the Court opined that it is an identical work, copyright of which, prima facie, is claimed to be owned the Plaintiff.
  2. The Court has instructed the Defendants to not play the said Song in the said Show without acquiring the requisite license from the Plaintiff.
  3. The Court has also granted permission to the Defendants to continue broadcasting the said Show without the said Song.

 

SYNCHRONIZATION RIGHTS

What are synchronization rights?

Synchronization rights are defined in this judgment as under:

The right to record the music as part of the sound track in a film is known as ‘the synchronisation right’, because it is performed in synchronisation with the film. This right is included in the right to reproduce the work in any material form

In 2016, Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd. took Raj Network Ltd. to Court for a similar issue. Sony had named several movies produced by Raj TV which contained usage of copyrighted work owned by Sony, without its permission.

Placing reliance on the facts, the Hon’ble Madras High Court passed an order granting an injunction in favour of Sony, where content of Sony was being exploited by Raj TV without acquiring valid permission/rights. The Court had restrained Raj TV from using the sound recording and images owned by Sony, as well as synchronizing Sony’s underlying musical and literary work with visuals to create cinematograph films.

In lieu of the findings of this present order, it is yet again made clear that in order to reproduce a sound recording, one has to take necessary rights/permission, being ‘synchronization rights’ from the concerned rights holder.

Image source: here