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Licences in Copyright



Application of Section 19 to Licensing

Section 19's provisions are extended, mutatis mutandis, to licensing under Section 30, as per Section 30(A). Thus, any agreement intending to licence copyright must be in writing to be valid under the Act.

Although no specific format is mandated, the licensing agreement must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner or their authorised agent.

Distinction between Assignment and License

Unlike assignment, which transfers copyright title, a licence merely permits specific actions by the licensee.


Compulsory Licences

Under Section 31, provisions for compulsory licences are stipulated for works withheld from the public. The owner of copyright and applicants must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard by Commercial Courts.

After due inquiry, if the court deems the refusal to publish or perform a work unreasonable, it may direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant a compulsory licence.

Statutory Licences

Section 31(A) outlines circumstances for compulsory licences in unpublished Indian works or works withheld from the public. Section 31(B) provides for licences benefiting disabled persons, while Section 31(C) allows for statutory licensing for cover versions.

Section 31(D) enables broadcasting organisations to communicate literary and musical works and sound recordings, subject to specified conditions.

Bombay High Court Decision

A decision by the Bombay High Court in Tips Industries Ltd. v. Wynk Music Ltd. has generated debate regarding compulsory licensing. The court ruled that certain features of online streaming services did not constitute 'communication to the public', affecting the application of statutory licences.

Miscellaneous Provisions

Section 32 deals with licensing for translations, while Section 32(A) addresses licences for reproducing and publishing works for specific purposes. Termination of licences issued under the Act is covered under Section 32(B).


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