Recording co's appeal in Madras HC casts a shadow on Ilaiyaraaja's 4.5K songs

April 24, 2024
R. Ilaiyaraaja had given music to, would be subject to the result of an appeal in a case filed by Echo Recording Private Limited.

A division bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that all the commercial transactions of around 4,500 film songs for which the acclaimed composer R. Ilaiyaraaja had given music to, would be subject to the result of an appeal in a case filed by Echo Recording Private Limited.

The Second Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq on Wednesday passed the interim order. The bench, however, recognised the composer’s moral right over his compositions.

The hearing of the appeal has been adjourned till the second week of June.

Senior counsel Vijay Narayan appearing for the appellant contended that a composer who had taken remuneration from a film producer for composing songs could not continue to claim any right over those songs. The senior lawyer quoted profusely from provisions of the Copyright Act of 1957.

He argued that the copyright of the songs would vest with the film producers and added that Echo Recording had purchased those rights from multiple film producers.

Narayan stated that in the light of these facts the composer could not be allowed to commercially exploit those songs by giving a licence to music streaming platforms such as Spotify.

The senior counsel appearing for Echo Recording argued that Ilaiyaraaja ought to have produced all the agreements between him and the producers of the movies when he had filed a civil suit before a single judge in 2014.

Narayan said none of these agreements had been submitted in court.

Senior counsel Satish Parasaran representing the music mastero quoted Section 17 of the Copyright Act and contended that the copyright for his client’s compositions would continue to subsist with him regardless of the agreements entered into with the film producers.

Parasaran said that Ilaiyaraaja as composer is the owner of the copyright and added that if there was any challenge to his title, the petitioners would have to show an employment agreement.

He said, “Your Lordships can generally take my word that a music composer by the very innate work that is involved is never an employee,”

Justice Mahadevan asked whether Ilaiyaraaja could claim a right over the lyrics also which had been penned by someone else, for lyrics are an important part of a song.

He asked whether the composer would seek his claim for the lyrics also or restrict his claim only with respect to the musical notes.

Ilaiyaraaja’s counsel said that lyricists receive royalties irrespective of the songs being exploited commercially by the composer or the film producer.

He told the court that Echo Recording had sold its rights to Sony Music, which had filed a case against Ilaiyaraaja before the Bombay High Court.

Parasaran also said that Sony Music has informed the Bombay High Court that Ilaiyaraaja has lost all his rights and that he cannot even perform his songs.

He also said that Sony Music was stating that a music composer of the stature of Ilaiyaraaja was a nobody and that was not acceptable.

Latest Articles

Related Posts