Digital tune large Spotify, which entered the Indian market in advance this 12 months, has already opened its account in local courts. Music behemoth Warner Music, a former investor in Spotify, has sued the agency over a count that guarantees to ship ripples via India’s highbrow belongings regime. Specifically, Spotify lately invoked a statutory licensing provision (Section 31-D) underneath India’s Copyright Act, in an try to gain get admission to to content owned by way of Warner Music, for redistribution. Warner Music has, in turn, filed an injunction at the Bombay High Court to prevent Spotify from having access to its content material via such method.

Statutory licensing serves as an exception to the exclusive monetary rights of a copyright holder. This makes copyright licensing a minefield of litigation. The Spotify-Warner case will upload a nebulous layer of jurisprudence to a monetary region that deserves extra detailed legislative attention.


India’s copyright regime is ostensibly based totally on the basis that “information must be allowed to be disseminated”. This public-hobby cause stems from a much-referred to 2008 Supreme Court judgment. The ruling firmly established that the usage of non-voluntary licenses to enhance patron get right of entry to may be availed of via personal entities, in addition to public entities. However, the proliferation of statistics and communique technology (ICTs) has modified the expertise-dissemination paradigm. The dominance of digital markets necessitates a relook at the present copyright regime—which isn’t a job for courts.

Historically, tracking licensing in India has worried bundling of the underlying rights for musical composition, lyrics, performance, or even synchronization with the copyright for the sound recording. Until a seminal legislative amendment in 2012, which made such underlying rights “non-assignable”, the wholesale switch of rights to film producers turned into a commonplace practice. Such producers might then transfer these rights to report labels. This gave number one-rights owners, inclusive of lyricists, performers and composers, no declare on future royalties. In many methods, the erstwhile regime turned into a match for a marketplace in which the tune enterprise became in most cases financed with the aid of the movie enterprise, in particular, Bollywood. However, the Bollywood-centricity of music markets is being disrupted by net streaming.

Market disruptions, however, judicial intervention is by no means some distance from upending accommodative legislative reform in India. In 2016, in some other courtroom case with large financial ramifications, the pre-2012 practice of transfer of rights was re-allowed for sound recordings that are not embedded in a cinematograph film. Primary-rights proprietors had been dealt a blow via a judicial intervention that paid insufficient attention to converting marketplace dynamics. Independent of the felony rigmarole, India’s song enterprise has controlled to move the ₹1,000-crore mark in 2018, and need no longer play 2nd mess around to movies forever. Through sustained growth of net streaming sales, the enterprise can become a force to reckon with in its personal right.

In fact, technology has helped several Indian industries overcome demanding situations stemming from static regulatory regimes. For example, TV broadcasters in India have invested heavily in online video platforms to disseminate new content material. Such investments will help them overcome a legacy of prescriptive monetary regulations within the TV market. Similarly, inside the case of the tune enterprise, virtual structures will permit the greater customer to attain, in addition to product and provider innovation, to maximize enterprise revenues.

To its credit score, the government recognized an untapped export potential of the audio and video industries ultimate 12 months and gave them “Champion Sector” fame. The earning potentialities of audio-visible exports are linked to the growth of digital markets.

Several Indian industries, ranging from telecom to mining, have suffered the outcomes of judicial overreach in monetary subjects. As a precept, such interventions ought to be curtailed to instances of discernible market failure. Moreover, virtual markets are top notch on several counts, necessitating that judicial interventions be slender in scope. First, net streaming does not depend upon the usage of the scarce public spectrum, as tv or radio broadcasting does. Second, the fee of switching between streaming services is negligible because it does no longer involve the substitute for any system or distributors. And third, in concept, there can be no discrimination among massive and small streaming agencies at the community stage of the net, way to community neutrality guidelines.

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