Statutory licensing: Mumbai High Court rules in favour of labels, against music streamers

Internet music streaming and digital downloads are not covered under the statutory licensing provi


MUMBAI: Music labels are rubbing their hands in glee. Reason: recently record label Tips Industries won a landmark judgement against Airtel’s music streaming service Wynk in the Mumbai High Court.

The court ruled that internet music streaming and digital downloads are not covered under the statutory licensing provision which is meant for TV and radio broadcasters of the Copyright Act, 1957.  This means that all streaming services will have to perforce conclude licensing agreements with record labels.

Says Indian Music Industry (IMI) president Blaise Fernandes: “This decision confirms IMI’s consistent stand that internet streaming services are not covered under Section 31D of the Copyright Act,1957. As an industry, we noted the intention of our parliament to provide involuntary licensing benefits under the Copyright Act, 1957 and are very encouraged that the honourable court has now clarified the intention of our lawmakers did not include streaming services under the statutory licensing scheme.“

Adds Tips Industries managing director Kumar Taurani: "This is true justice and I humbly bow in respect to the Indian judiciary. It’s been a long and trying process but we prevailed and justice was served. I'm very happy that the Indian judiciary believed in not only Tips but the whole music industry and vindicated what was right. We are not in business to arm twist or provoke unnecessary actions onto our partners in the OTT business; but in our case, in particular, Wynk was very unfair. Wynk as an internet music streaming service has valuations in millions, despite that they still refuse to pay to music labels a few crore rupees for the labels’ music content, which is at the heart of Wynk’s OTT streaming service. And without a heart, what good is a body? OTT players, until this judgement, continued to corner us.”

It was way back in 2017 that both Wynk – which has about 100 million subs - and Tips failed to agree on licensing terms for the latter’s music. Taurani had then asked the streamer to pull down its music catalogue from the service. Wynk sought the cover of section 31D claiming that it was a broadcasting organisation and hence was eligible for a statutory licence allowing it to broadcast Tips music. Taurani then filed suits against the streamer in January 2018.

The Mumbai High Court, which was hearing the case, finally ruled in favour of Tips saying that Wynk was not eligible to claim the statutory broadcasting licence provision. It issued an injunction forbidding it from streaming Tips music without getting a licence from it.

The court stated” “Such use of the copyrighted works... without obtaining a license from the owners of the copyright amounts to usurpation of the exclusive rights of the owners to commercially rent, sell or communicate to the public their sound recordings. This interpretation does not meet the legislative purpose behind enacting Section 31-D.”

Attempts to reach Wynk were not successful, but industry observers expect it to appeal against the order at higher courts.  Another case which is slated to come up for hearing in June  is the Warner Music group vs Spotify, which has also taken cover under section 31D provision for its India launch.

Latest Reads

Tik-Tok begins testing 'link in bio' feature to monetise its billion plus user-base

MUMBAI: Popular social networking app Tik-Tok has begun limited test of a feature that will allow users to add links to products and e-commerce sites on their bio and posts. The Chinese short-video making platform, with a billion plus users, has been exploring ways to monetise its ever-increasing...

iWorld Over The Top Services
ShemarooMe expands in the USA Market

MUMBAI: ShemarooMe, a one-stop destination for bollywood films, classic cinema, Gujarati and other regional movies, devotional and kids’ content is now available on the Roku platform to users in the US. The availability of the channel on Roku devices further strengthens ShemarooMe’s presence in the...

iWorld Over The Top Services
ZEE5 to premiere Dream Girl on 21st November

MUMBAI: India’s largest video streaming platform ZEE5, is all set to premiere one of the recent, most critically acclaimed films and an audience favourite Dream Girl. The biggest ever first-day opener for Ayushmann, Dream Girl is a comedy film based in a small town. In the film, Ayushmann Khurrana...

iWorld Over The Top Services
Amazon Prime brings new season of The Expanse

MUMBAI: Season 4 of The Expanse, its first as a global Amazon Original, begins a new chapter for the series, with the crew of the Rocinante on a mission from the U.N. to explore new worlds beyond the Ring Gate. Humanity has been given access to thousands of Earth-like planets which has created a...

iWorld Over The Top Services
Google India unlocks prepaid plans for YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium

Google India unlocked the option of prepaid plans for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium on Monday. The services which entered India in March were priced at Rs 129 a month for Premium, and Rs 99 a month for Music Premium.

iWorld Social Media
Amazon Original Inside Edge trailer released today All 10 episodes of the second season to launch on Amazon Prime Video on the 6th of December, 2019

MUMBAI: In the next edition of the PPL, a volatile Vayu Raghavan leads the Mumbai Mavericks to face their biggest adversary yet, the Haryana Hurricanes, who are led by a reinvented Arvind Vashisht. But the teams must also counter colossal scandals that’ll rock the world of cricket. In the sport’s...

iWorld Over The Top Services
Kantar and VTIONTM announce partnership to roll out ‘OTT Audience Measurement’ solution

MUMBAI: Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, has partnered with VTIONTM to roll out ‘OTT Audience Measurement’, India’s first, real-time audience measurement solution that redefines audience measurement.

iWorld Over The Top Services
ShemarooMe expands its reach for global audiences

MUMBAI: Shemaroo Entertainment Limited, India’s leading content powerhouse has announced a worldwide launch of its video streaming platform – ShemarooMe, in more than 150 countries. With this move Shemaroo aims to bring entertaining content to every asli Bollywood fan in every corner of the world....

iWorld Over The Top Services
Star India's Gaurav Banerjee on Hotstar's content diversity, SVOD uptake & nurturing talent

Hotstar has consistently outperformed some of the global over the top (OTT) platforms in India with the help of a mix of TV show content, sports and the recently-added originals. After Criminal Justice, the next original to launch under the Hotstar umbrella will be Out of Love.

iWorld Over The Top Services

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories