In a decision that ensures fair licensing of digital services in India that will benefit both, the Industry as well as users of music, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court had held on 23rd April 2019 (in the Tips Industries LTD v Wynk Music LTD [Airtel]) that internet music streaming and digital downloads are not covered under the Statutory licensing provision of the Copyright Act, 1957.
It was an extremely important decision for the entire recorded music industry in India, and IMI, the trade body that represents the interests of the recorded music industry in India, has welcomed the verdict.
IMI member Tips Industries Ltd had sued Wynk Music, which is Airtel’s Internet music streaming service. Wynk claimed the benefit of the statutory licensing provision. The Court disagreed with the argument that streaming was covered under the ambit of statutory licensing provisions. In reaching this, conclusion the Honble court had examined the intention of the Parliament and the provision.
Blaise Fernandes, President of IMI, said, “This decision confirms IMI’s consistent stand that INTERNET streaming services are not covered under Section 31D of the Copyright Act,1957. As an Industry we noted the intention of our Parliament to provide involuntary licensing benefits under the Copyright Act, 1957 and are very encouraged that the Hon’ble Court has now clarified the intention of our lawmakers did not include streaming services under the statutory licensing scheme.”
Kumar Taurani, MD, Tips, said, “This is true justice and I humbly bow in respect to the Indian judiciary. It’s been a long and trying process but we prevailed and justice was served. I’m very happy that the Indian judiciary believed in not only Tips but the whole music industry, and vindicated what was right.
“We are not in a business to arm-twist or provoke unnecessary actions onto our partners in the OTT business, but in our case in particular, Wynk was very unfair. Wynk as an internet music streaming service has valuations in millions; despite that, they still refuse to pay to music labels (a) few crores, for the labels’ music content, which is the heart of Wynk’s OTT streaming service — and without a heart ,what good is a body? OTT players, until this judgment, continued to corner us,” Taurani said.
As per the IFPI GMR Report, Internet streaming in India contributes to 70% of the revenues of the recorded music industry. The decision of the court is expected to boost the online Internet music licensing business in India further.