Bombay HC restrains Wynk from using 25K songs copyrighted by Tips
Observing that unauthorised internet broadcast of copyrighted songs and sound recordings by online music applications amounts to copyright infringement, the Bombay high court recently restrained Wynk Music Limited from using 25,000 copyrighted songs belonging to Tips Industries Limited.
Wynk is a music streaming service which is owned by Bharti Airtel India. Tips Industries is an Indian entertainment company whose catalogue includes a digital library of approximately 25,000 songs.
Acting on a copyright infringement plea filed by Tips Industries, Justice SJ Kathawalla, on April 23, held that Wynk was not entitled to statutory license under section 31-D (to communicate to the public) of the Copyright Act, 1957.
On the same day, the Delhi high court ruled in favour of record label Saregama in a similar copyright infringement suit that Saregama had filed against music streaming service Spotify.
Managing director of Tips, Kumar Taurani welcomed the judgment. “I’m very happy that the Indian judiciary believed in not only Tips, but the whole music industry and vindicated what was right,” Taurani said.
An Airtel spokesperson said, “We are in the process of reviewing the judgment of the single bench of the honourable high court and plan to appeal against the same. This issue is to be decided finally by the courts given that it is a principle issue which needs to be settled once and for all from an industry stand point.”
Tips’s digital music library was originally licensed to Wynk on payment of an annual licence fee of ₹1.31 crore. The agreement expired on August 31, 2016, after which Wynk continued to feature the 25,000 songs belonging to Tips in its catalogue. On November 17, 2017, Tips Industries issued a notice to Wynk. Wynk claimed section 31-D entitled them to communicate to the public Tips’s music.
The judge said the services rendered by an over-the-top (OTT) service provider through their download and purchase features amounted to commercial rental or sale of copyrighted work. As this is a distinct right from the right to communicate to the public, Wynk could not invoke section 31-D, said the court. Justice Kathawalla took into consideration that the injunction order will not bring Wynk’s business to a standstill or cause irreparable injury to the OTT service provider, as the injunction relates to a fraction of their content.