RMPL vs PPL: DELHI HIGH COURT AS A PRO-TEM MEASURE REINSTATES RMPL AS A COPYRIGHT SOCIETY FOR SOUND RECORDINGS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME DIRECTING GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER PPL’S APPLICATION

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Delhi High Court vide its order dated April 11, 2022 granted relief to both RMPL and PPL in their conflict over registration as a copyright society. The Court has granted, as a pro tem measure, a stay on the decision of the single judge order to the extent that it disallows RMPL from functioning as a Copyright Society. The Division Bench has also directed the Government of India to consider the application of PPL during the pendency of the appeal- within four weeks.

The order of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court stems from an appeal filed by RMPL against the order passed by the single judge on March 9, 2022. Read our detailed post here on the entire dispute and its background.

The Division Bench of Justice Shakhdar and Justice Bamba considered the following aspects while passing the order:

(i) the conduct of the Registrar / GOI with PPL in respect of rejecting its withdrawal of application as a copyright society, and yet passing a contradictory order dated 22nd May 2021 stating that the withdrawal was granted, thereby contributing to the muddle.

(ii) Although the use of the word “ordinarily” in the proviso to Section 33 and Rule 49 of the Copyright Rules 2013, would suggest that “ordinarily” there would be only one copyright society, the muddle created by respondent no.2/GOI has got into fray both the appellant (RMPL) as well as respondent no.1 (PPL).

(iii) Between 18.06.2021 and 09.03.2022, RMPL has been functioning as a copyright society, while PPL was functioning under the provisions of Sections 18 and 30 of the 1957 Act.

In view of the above factors the Court considered that the best way forward can only be a pro tem measure, that GOI should consider the application of PPL for reregistration pending the outcome in the appeal. And that since RMPL has been functioning as a copyright society before the impugned decision was rendered i.e., 09.03.2022, there should be a stay the operation of the impugned judgment to that extent.

The court has also clarified that the registration of RMPL would not prejudice the decision on the registration of PPL, in light of the ordinary embargo of having more than one society in the same category of works  Before concluding, the Court has also made a prima facie observation that PPL got “hope” of registration by correspondences issued to it by the GOI including the Office Memorandum dated 06.10.2016, which cannot be discounted.

The Division Bench opined that since the Central government has not assailed the order passed by the Ld. Single Judge within a reasonable time. The central government shall proceed to reconsider PPL’s application after the observations made in this appeal.

The matter has been posted on 27th July, 2022 for its further hearing.

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