Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leoplod’s Story

Novex Communications a leading satellite channel distribution company filed a case[1] against Leopold Café, one of the oldest and most famous café of Bombay for exploitation of copyrighted work principally owned by Yashraj Films Pvt. Ltd. and Shemaroo Entertainment Limited.
The main question for determination in this case was whether Novex Communication is entitled to grant licence on the behalf of owners of copyright in various works.
Section 30 of the Copyright Act, 1957 provides that owner of copyright and his duly authorized agent may grant any interest by licence in writing. It further prohibits any person or association of persons from carrying on business of granting or issuing licences in respect of any work in which copyright subsists only exception is Copyright Societies Registered under Chapter VII of the Act.
The court held that for a valid licence by an agent under Copyright Act factum of agency must be disclosed so that licensee knows that it has valid licence from the owner. The minute principle is undisclosed and licence is granted in the agent’s name, the prohibition in Section 33 comes into play.
Honourable High Court observed that licences issued by Novex did not indicate that it is acting as agent for the right holders. Further the manner in which Novex is conducting its operation does not indicate that it is acting as agent for owners of copyright, thus is in direct contravention of Section 33(1).
The court in this case harmoniously interpreted Section 30 & 33 and clarified that the prohibition under Section 33 does not apply to a case where an individual acts in his individual capacity, which includes acting through an agent but only requirement is to disclose the fact of agency.
 __ Gajendra Khichi

[1] M/s. Leopold Café & Stores & Anr v/s Novex Communications Private Ltd. Suit (603of 2014) Bombay HC, decided on 17/7/2014