You are on page 1of 3

THE RELATION BETWEEN BROADCASTER'S RIGHTS AND

COPYRIGHTS UNDER INDIAN LAWS


Present day protection of the Broadcasting Rights in India is a upshot of various conventions.
If we trace the history of India, the British Government has passed and reckoned a legislation
engaging the broadcasters a monopoly over the communications and broadcasting under the
Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. In true sense, the Indian Copyright Act of 1914 and 1957 were
mostly a revision of the British Copyright Act of 1911 and 1956 and due to the extension in
the usage of new-fangled technological advent and various international conventions and
legal frameworks it became of utter importance to amend the copyright laws. At that time, the
rights of broadcasting organizations were not inclusive under the Copyright Act of 1957, but
later in 1994, the amendment brought the broadcasting rights into brighter picture.
Though in its initial days, The Copyright Act, 1957 did not provide any specific right to the
broadcasters, it was later introduced under Section 37 and Section 39 by the way of 1994
Amendment Act.
Section 37 is well known to have been granting the right holders a neighbouring right. It
safeguards the interests of certain persons or legal entities who have either contributed to
making creative works available to the public or produce subject matter which is considered
worthy of copyright-like protection, which is not original or creative enough to qualify as a
work under a national copyright system.1
Section 2(dd) defines broadcast as means of communication to the public(i)

by any means of wireless diffusion, whether in any one or more of the forms of

(ii)

signs, sounds or visual images; or


by wire, and includes a re-broadcast;

Looking at the above definition it is clear that, India being the third largest broadcasting
market in the global field, it is of utter necessity to have right over all the works in whatever
form it may be in which it can be communicated to the public. A work of a copyright holder if
communicated to the public in a wrong way or provides benefit to a person not rightfully
belonging to him would defy all purpose of the existence of the copyright law.
1 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal, (1995) 2 S.C.C. 161,
224.

Section 39 of the Act2 puts a slight leniency to the Act. The Copyright (Amendment) Act,
1994 has recognized certain acts which do not cause any kind of infringement upon the
broadcasting reproduction rights.
Section 31 D introduced by the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 grants a statutory license
to broadcasting organisations eager of broadcasting already published literary or musical
works and sound recordings. The broadcasting organisation shall provide prior notice to the
right holders and pay royalty at the rates fixed by the Copyright Board. The names of authors
and performers shall be made public during the broadcast. The broadcasting organisation
shall preserve all records of the broadcast, books of account and render them to the owner.
Before the introduction of Section 31D, access to copyright works by broadcasters was
dependent on voluntary licensing due to which irrational terms and conditions were being
levied by the copyright owners and societies.
In India, this trending began with the landmark case of, The Secretary, Ministry of I & B v.
Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)3, where the Supreme Court considerably widened the
scope and extent of the freedom of speech and expression and held that the Government has
no monopoly on the electronic media and a citizen has Article 19 (1) (a), a right to telecast
and broadcast to the viewers/listeners through electronic media Television and Radio or
any, an important event. After the judgment of Bengal Association, follows up the Union of
India v. Motion Picture Association4, the Supreme Court finds precedent in reasoning the
mandatory sharing and broadcasting telecasts in social interest and lays down that educational
and scientific films ought to be aired in public interest.
Hence from the above analysis of the broadcasting rights it is clear that Indian Legislators
have marked a huge footstep in the field of Indian Copyright Law by providing neighbouring
rights to the copyright owner, broadcasting rights being one of them. Supreme Court has gone
further to balance the private right of broadcasting and the Fundamental right provided under
Article 19(1)(a). Thus, Broadcasters and their rights have been recognised under Copyright
Law by the way of Section 31D. A legitimate balance has been created between the
broadcasters and the copyright owner, by which both are benefitting. While former can easily
2 The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1994.
3 (1995) 2 S.C.C.161, 224, 27.
4 AIR 1999 SC 2334

broadcast a copyrighted work without undergoing irrational terms and conditions, latter can
benefit from its work without having to make rounds of court to claim the same.