Legitimacy of IPRS and PPL

What is a Copyright Society?

The collective administration of copyright by a society is a concept where management and protection of copyright in several works are undertaken by the said society of authors and other owners of such works.

In India, a copyright society is registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Such a society is formed by authors and other copyright owners which may include licensing entities by virtue of assignment from the original author. The business of issuing or granting license in respect of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works incorporated in cinematograph films or sound recordings shall be carried out only through a copyright society duly registered under this Act. Ordinarily, only one society is registered to do business in respect of the same class of work.

The minimum membership required for the registration of a copyright society is seven. On registration, a copyright society stays in existence for 5 years[i], after which it must apply for renewal. The functions of a copyright society include prescribing a license fee in accordance to its “Scheme of Tariffs” as decided by the members of the society. Under the Copyright Rules, 2013, every society must publish its tariff scheme on a regular basis. The society also decides how the collected fees shall be distributed among the members of the society.

What are IPRS and PPL?

The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) were Copyright societies registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

IPRS came into existence on 23rd August, 1969 to administer and issue license for usage of all performing rights associated with composition and lyrics and got registered as a copyright society in 1996.

The Indian Phonographic Industry (IPI), the association of phonogram producers was established in 1936. Subsequently, it decided to form a specialised body to administer the public performance and broadcasting rights, and so Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) came into being in 1941 and just like IPRS, it also got registered itself as a copyright society under the Copyright Act, 1957.

Controversy involving the legitimacy of IPRS and PPL

In 2012, the Copyright Act was amended and a series of changes were incorporated. Following the amendment, string of litigation, unfolding of facts and judgements came to the notice.

The said amendment was made in Section 33 of the Act wherein subsection 3A was inserted, the proviso to which stated “every copyright society already registered before the coming into force of the copyright (amendment) Act, 2012 shall get itself registered under this chapter within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012”, and came into force on the 21st of June, 2012.

Both IPRS and PPL applied for re-registration on 8th May, 2013 and 10th May, 2013 respectively which was only a month prior to the expiration of the granted period for re-registration. However, IPRS in a letter dated 2nd June, 2014 and PPL in a letter dated 20th May, 2014 expressed their intent to withdraw their application for re-registration. Thus, due to failure to re-register IPRS and PPL, the earlier copyright societies were automatically disqualified to operate as Copyright societies under Section 33 of the Indian Copyright Act.

Now, both the entities operate as Private Limited Companies, registered under the Companies Act.

Such aforesaid actions by IPRS and PPL could have ensued due to the amendments brought about in 2012. It may be pertinent to note that authors of copyrighted works usually assign their rights in favour of IPRS or PPL for the licensing of said rights. The amendment in 2012 resulted in the change whereby “owners of the right” in Section 33 was substituted by “authors and other owners of right”. Therefore, as per Sections 33(4) and 33(5), the Central Government by virtue of the amendment could intervene in the administration of the said copyright society if the affairs of such society were being conducted contrary to the interests of the authors of the copyrighted works.

Moreover, by virtue of the amendment, an author of a copyrighted work shall have the right to withdraw the exclusive authorisation given to the copyright society to administer any right in a work without prejudice to the rights of the said society under any contract. Further, Section 35 has been amended to provide that every copyright society shall have a governing body with such number of persons elected from among the members of the society consisting of equal number of authors and owners of work for the purpose of the administration of the society. Section 35(4) provides that all members of a copyright society shall enjoy equal membership rights and there shall be no discrimination between authors and owners of rights in the distribution of royalties.

IPRS v. Union of India and Ors. & Hasan Kamal v. Union of India

(Writ Petition no. 2384/2014 with 2236/2014)

There were several complaints keeping IPRS in limelight for irregularities which  ranged from non-distribution of royalties, illegal sub-licensing of royalties, illegal transfer of mechanical rights and ring-tones royalties to another copyright society- PPL and lastly, forging signatures and misrepresentation to the Ministry of HRD. All these acts were violative of Sections 33-35 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Taking cognizance of such complaints, the government proceeded to pass an order to appoint an Enquiry Officer to make necessary enquiries into alleged complaints and to give suggestions to improve the administration of IPRS, thereby Justice Shri Mukul Mudgal was appointed. Post that, IPRS moved the High Court of Bombay and argued that  Rule 50 of Copyright Rules, 2013 provides for the appointment of an office above the rank of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India for the purposes of this enquiry and contended that the appointment of a former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was not in compliance with the provisions of the Act. However, later in September 2014, the Justice resigned from the post of Enquiry officer as he did not want his qualifications to be a subject matter of litigation.

It further contended that since it failed to re-register itself as a copyright society as per the amendment, the order was inapplicable since it was made on the assumption that IPRS was still functioning as a ‘copyright society’. The High Court dismissed IPRS’s contention and said that if such contentions were to be accepted, “it would be adding premium to dishonesty” since it was a registered society from 1996 to 2013. In this regard, the Court stated;

“We do not think that the Legislature intended such an absurd result. We are, therefore, clearly of the view that the Central Government had jurisdiction to form a prima facie opinion that an enquiry is required to be conducted into the affairs of the petitioner society in respect of the alleged violations of the Act and the Rules”

IPRS moved the Supreme Court of India by a Special Leave Petition which was dismissed.

Whether IPRS and PPL can be construed as Copyright Societies or not?

The question as to whether IPRS and PPL are to operate as copyright societies is important as Section 33 of Copyright Act permits only a registered copyright society or an authorised agent to carry out the business of issuing and granting licenses. Both IPRS and PPL have publicly stated that they are not registered copyright societies and even the Ludhiana High Court ruled that IPRS was not a registered society in 2013.

Interplay between Section 30 and Section 33

Section 30 of the Act provides that “the owner of the copyright in any existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in any future work may grant any interest in the right by licence in writing signed by him or by his duly authorised agent”

Thus, Section 30 provides for granting the license by agents on behalf of the owner. In the current scenario, the two entities, IPRS and PPL, claim to function as agents of their members and thus grant license in the name of the agent.

Section 33 of the Act provides “No person or association of persons shall carry on the business of issuing or granting licences in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other rights conferred by this Act except under or in accordance with the registration granted under sub-section (3)”

IPRS’ and PPL’s claim of functioning under Section 30 is overlapped by Section 33.  It needs to be reiterated that for the purpose of issuing or granting license, the entity needs to be a copyright society registered  under the Indian Copyright Act but IPRS and PPL maintain that they are not copyright societies and hence don’t come under the ambit of Copyright Act. Despite this, IPRS and PPL have repeatedly acted otherwise. In 2014, the IPRS filed a suit at the Delhi High Court where it verified that it was a copyright society, completely contradicting itself. In the same year, in other two cases — namely, IPRS v. Goodwin Jewellers and ors. – CS(OS)871/2014, and IPRS v. Black and White Media India and ors. – CS(OS)1274/2014, it approached the Delhi High Court as a copyright society, successfully managing to get the court to rule in its favour thereby digging its own grave.

Leopold Café Stores v. Novex Communications Pvt. Ltd.

Citation Order in Notice Motion No. 1451 of 2014 in Suit (L) NO. 603 OF 2014

In this case Hon’ble Bombay HC observed that “every agent also ‘carries on business’, but that is the business of agency, with the agent functioning as such, i.e., clearly indicating that it is acting on behalf of another, one who holds the copyright. This is the only manner in which both Section 33 and Section 30 can be harmonized. An absolute bar even on an agency, invoking Section 33, would undoubtedly run afoul of the plain language of Section 30 and render the words “or by his duly authorised agent” entirely otiose.”

“In order to qualify an agent, it is necessary for the agent to disclose that it is acting for and on behalf of the copyright owner in all the relevant documents.” Thus, license granted by IPRS and PPL can be only in the name of copyright holder and not itself.

On 14th August 2015, the Central Government announced the appointment of Y.P.C. Dangey, retired joint secretary and legal adviser of the Department of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice as Inquiry Officer to look into the inconsistencies and irregularities by IPRS and PPL all throughout its existence and submit a report. Further, IPRS was unsuccessfull in moving a writ petition regarding Dangey’s appointment against Union of India.

Chitra Jagjit Singh vs. The Indian Performing Rights Society 

Citation – MANU/DE/0917/2016)

In 2016, Delhi High Court restrained IPRS from granting any license in respect of the works of Jagjit Singh and also from recovering license fee from any third party in respect of the works, though it continued to collect license fee irrespective of the order. This case is landmark in the sense that for the first time court considered that IPRS is not competent in issuing license and collecting license fee, in furtherance of the decision of the court in the case of Novex Communications which was unclear on the standing of unregistered societies. The Hon’ble Court held that IPRS cannot claim to function as a company when it is issuing licenses in the capacity of a copyright society and hence, cannot issue licenses without being registered as such under the Copyright Act.

Recent Development

While Enquiry Commission’s report is still awaited, there has been a positive development as IPRS appointed Javed Akhtar – a noted poet, lyricist, scriptwriter as their chairman and Achille Foler – copyright administrator as a permanent advisor of the board.

Javed Akhtar on his appointment stated that it’s a “new chapter” and “writers, composers and publishers have risen above the past conflicts and have a taken a pledge to work together for the enhancement of Indian Music Industry’s reach and prosperity.”

Another positive step was taken by IPRS as it held the Extraordinary General Meeting on the 9th February 2017 which aimed to replace the Articles of Association. Moreover it was reported that the revamped IPRS has adopted a new working constitution which is fully in sync with the amended Copyright Act. The primary objective being, rightful royalty flow to the right’s owners, while simplifying the license procedure for the end users.

Authors- Himani Kohli and Pratik Das, Legal Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at info@khuranaandkhurana.com

[i] Section 33 (3A) of the Copyright Act, 1957, inserted by Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012

29 thoughts on “Legitimacy of IPRS and PPL”

  1. ….Thanks for the information, it helps put the facts in perspective. However, as on date, is IPRSL legally correct in recovering royalties in the name of artists ? please say a firm yes or no.

    1. Yes, the understanding is correct and IPRSL is legally correct in recovering royalties in the name of artists. However, an owner of Copyright shall in his individual capacity, continue to have the right to grant licenses with respect to his own work.

  2. Do we need a License from IPRS or PPL or any other copyright society if the event is a Private one? for example, we have a Wedding reception with Live DJ/Dance and the Venue owner is asking us to get a License from IPRS.
    So is it actually required to get one?
    Also, the DJ is a family friend and it is a private family event but in a rented Banquet hall.

    Thanks in Advance 🙂

    1. Dear Mr Malhotra,
      Thank you for your email and the query.
      Kindly be advised that as per copyright laws, it becomes the responsibility of the banquet hall owner to obtain requisite license from IPRS or any other society authorised in this regard to be able to allow performance by a DJ in its premises as he is using his premises for commercial purposes.
      Since the amount to be paid is usually reasonable, it is advised to obtain the license before the scheduled event.

  3. Hi,
    Do bars and pubs need to take yearly IPRS, PPL and Novex licenses to play music? There’s no clear information this available on the internet. Can you please advise. Thank you!

  4. I’m from goa . And my brother is having a Goan wedding in a few days … having a live band … Playing only English and konkani music .. do we need to pay for the PPL.and IPRs licence … The hall owner insists we have to go for one .. I think otherwise … The fees are 60000..for the licences …

    1. Dear Sir,

      As copyright in most of the musical work is owned by individual lyricist and and composers and license can only be issued by authorised society, it is advisable to obtain the license for the society which is authorised to issue license for this music. You will have to confirm from respective society whether the songs intended to be played in the function come under the repertoire of the society. A few societies have the same on their website. As regards tariffs, it is also reflected on their websites or you may get it by writing an email..

  5. If I have a retail store in a famous mall , the mall has the license of IPRS . Now , do I need a license as I am situated in the same mall ?

    1. Hi Ajay! Thank you for your question. No, you don’t need a separate license since the IPRS license of the mall has got you covered.

  6. Can you please review the status of IPRS and PPL after the Judgment dated 12.10.2017 of Delhi High Court in WPC 12076 of 2016?
    Can we say that IPRS and PPL are copyright Socities?

    1. Hi Mukta,
      While IPRS has been granted registration as copyright society on 28/11/2017, status of PPL is not yet known.

  7. Hello Sir,

    Do we require to obtain PPL and IPRS license if we want to start singing/ dance class for personal entertainment within office premise?

    1. Hi Balaram,
      If you are teaching singing/dancing and charging students for the same, you will need to obtain the license.

  8. Hi, we have upcoming event in february in Delhi.
    We have live singer performing on stage and for that we have procured IPRS. We also have filer act for dancers which may be a copyrighted songs claimed under Novex. This is for 400 pax and for Dealers only. They are asking for 2lakh rupees for as celebrity is coming for which we already Have IPRS. We have dancers also who must be using tracks and we have applied for PPL and NOVEX also..but NOVEX is claiming 2lakh rupees whch seems like an e ploitatiin.. They charge 30K normaly for the event and they are not ready to listen and threatning us badly. Plz suggest as the dates are near. Do Novex has right to atop the event or realy has right for someone imorisonment although we have asked them to charges 30k-40k whichbthey nirmally charge. Thisnis no a concert.. Will they charge a crore for concert for 10000 people? What an agency earn? Please help..

    1. Hi Manish,
      As Novex is no longer recognised as a copyright society, they cannot grant license in respect of number of songs in its repertoire. However, they have managed to secure assignment of copyrights of songs from the repertoire of ZEE ENTERTAINMENT ENTERPRISES LIMITED/YASH RAJ FILMS PRIVATE LIMITED/SHEMAROO ENTERTAINMENT PRIVATE LIMITED/EROS INTERNATIONAL MEDIA LIMITED.
      Hence, for all songs owned by these owners, you need to seek permission from Novex.

  9. Hi
    I just got notice from PPL asking to get a license. I run a doctors clinic and music plays on TV for patients. Is PPL legal and do I need to get a license in my case?

    1. Hi Manny,
      PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd.) is an association of phonogram producers which controls public performance and radio broadcasting rights subsisting in music in various languages in India. It has control over large no. of songs as it has been assigned such songs by the owners of the musical works, which essentially means that it PPL has stepped into the shoes of the original author of the copyrighted work. Therefore, the association has the right to collect license fees or royalty just as the original author would, when such songs are communicated to the public for commercial gains. The public communication of the work includes the communication by way of television at any place for non-private purposes which can be any public place; commercial establishment; or non-commercial establishment. Clinics and Hospitals come under the category of such public performance establishments and PPL therefore, has the right to claim the license fees and in cases of such public communication of music. However, PPL is only authorized to grant license in relation to music being played at your clinic and thus, news and sports channels can be played without any restriction.

  10. Hi, we have upcoming event in February, we have to exhibit certain products and items where while exhibiting the products some music/songs be played. I have been approached by IPRS, PPL and Novex and they forcing me to take license. In this regard, while going through your above article, I have certain queries:

    1. Is these Company which which are not registered (except IPRS) as Society under section 33(3) of Act, can ask/force us to get license?

    2. Is registration under Section 33(3) is not mandatory to do business? can they do provide license without registering themselves in under Copyright Act.?

    3. Can they ask to get license based on Section 18(2) and Section 30 of Act?

    4. How we presumed that certain songs will be played or not there might be possibility that we will not play a song license of which available with them . Then in this case how we will pay. whether we can get refund, if song not be played.

    Please guide me, I will be highly obliged.

    1. Hi Khushbu,
      In response to your queries:
      1. As of this moment, only IPRS has been granted the status of a copyright Society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act. As regards PPL and Novex Communication, both these entities are not copyright societies within the meaning of Section 33 of the Copyright Act. However, both the entities are assigneesof certain copyrighted work which means that PPL and Novex have acquired the ownership of certain copyrighted musical works and are deemed owners in respect of the said work in accordance with Section 18 of the Copyright Act. This essentially means that even though, Novex Communication and PPL are not the original authors of the Copyrighted work or a valid copyright society under section 33 of the Copyright Act, they are nevertheless, entitled to ask you to obtain necessary license by virtue of being the deemed owner of the work.
      Thus, permission by way of license of the original owner of the copyright work is necessary before making any public performance of the said work.

      2. No, there is no compulsion for an owner (original author or assigned owner) of a copyright to register himself under Section 33 in order to be able to grant license in his work. Section 18 of the Copyright Act provides the provision of assignment of copyright, whereby, the original author of a copyrighted work may assign the rights subsisting in his copyright to any person. According to Section 18 (2) of the Copyright Act, “…the assignee as respects the rights so assigned shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as the owner of copyright with the assignment rights…”.Therefore, an assignee of a copyright as respect the rights so assigned, is vested with all the rights pertaining to a copyrighted work including the right to grant license.
      For instant, Novex has securedassignment of copyrights inmusical works from the repertoire of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, Yash Raj Films Private Limited, Shemaroo Entertainment Private Limited and Eros International Media Limited.Hence, for all songs owned by these owners, you need to seek license from Novex.

      3.Yes, by the virtue of being an assignee of the copyrighted work, they can grant license under Section 30.

      4. The license when granted is with respect to all the songs in the repertoire and the tariffs are on annual basis. Whether or not you play certain songs is immaterial since, the tariff grants you license to all the songs in the repertoire.

  11. Hi, You mentioned that it is an annual license. Can a DJ then procure this license and use it for a year for the events he or she plays at? The license fees together for these three are rather steep, and in Maharashtra, they add up to more than 60K even for a small function of, say 50 people, and just seem like daylight robbery for a family event of three hours such as a birthday function.

    1. Hi Godbole,
      Any public performance of a musical work for commercial gains / purposes requires license from the original author/ assigned owner of the work and therefore, a DJ is also required to procure license from the competent owner of the musical work. The license fee for IPRS, PPL and Novex together do add up to a substantial amount and therefore, you may choose to stick to only the songs in the repertoire of the entity you obtain the license from.

  12. Hi. I have a small restaurant and was paying the licence fee every year. But then all of a sudden they stopped coming to collect the fees from September 2014. Now they turn up and send me a notice with penalty for an amount of ₹ 27018. Which I cannot bear at the moment. What do I do. Please suggest

  13. Hello, I’m a DJ from Mumbai and plan to start up my own business into it. Do I need to obtain any specific license from PPL or does the venue/event organiser need to do that?

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Being a professional DJ, your work entails public performance of copyrighted musical work and therefore, you are obligated to obtain a license for the same. However, you can perform without license in events where the organiser (hotel, lounge, discotheque, banquet, etc.) has obtained a specific license for such events. Please note that the said license does not include a license for “background music”.

  14. let’s say i sign with IPRS, considering it’s a performance rights organization for the collection of my performance royalties AND i assign, say, the Connect Songs from Reverbnation as my publishing administrators to ensure the collection of the rest of the publishing royalties. I wanna understand if this were to work then how would it work? how can I be sure that IPRS doesn’t fall back into it’s old behaviour of not paying royalties? and considering the Indian mentality for anything related to intellectual property, how can i ensure that my rights and revenues are safe in this system?

  15. Dear Sir,
    i am running a garment retail shop where we play music (instumental) as part of ambience.
    Now IPRS as well as PPL both agencies are apprching me for registration.
    Please advice from which company we have to take license (IPRS & PPL) or we have to take license from both the companies.

  16. If for a wedding event, I want to play songs only from Novex list (zee music, Eros, yashraj and shemaroo songs) then is it Ok if I take only IPRS and novex licenses and I don’t take PPL license.

  17. Hi, if for a private event of about 100 people in a hotel, for some time we just play music by connecting our phone to the music system, are we required to pay for the license fee to the hotel?

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