1. Kalyanji-Anandji are the first owners of the copyright in the music as under section 17 of the Copyright Act and they would remain so unless they have assigned it in writing under section 19 of the Act. Mehras have not claimed anywhere that the music was composed under a contract of employment between Kalyanji-Anandji and Mehras. Saregama claiming the copyright over the music is totally absurd as the statements in the plaint have been verified by a person who was not even born at the time when the music was composed.
2. As per the decision in IPRS v. Eatern Indian Motion Pictures Association (1977) 2 SCC 820, the producer is the owner of copyright in a cinematographic film and the composer remains the owner of the music. The producer cannot encroach upon the composer's copyright. The alleged assignment of copyrights of music of Kalyanji-Anandji under the 1981 agreement is invalid, void and not binding on Kalyanji-Anandji. In any event, the right conferred on Saregama is only the right on the sound recording and does not include the right to re-record, synchronize or exploit the song recording or the musical works.
3. Kalyanji-Anandji have special rights under section 57 of the Act which have been violated and thus this makes the ground for an order of injunction.
The questions before this Division Bench were therefore to ascertain the status of the 1981 agreement vis-a-vis Saregama and to determine if Kalyanji-Anandji retained the first ownership of copyright in respect of the song 'Apni toh jese tese'.
The Court noted that as per the agreement executed in 1981, it is clear that Mr.Prakash Mehra had transferred to Saregama, absolutely and beneficially, copyright for making records of all contract works, performing right and all other rights, title and interest in and to the literary,dramatic and musical works embodied in the producer's film including all rights of publication, sound and television broadcasting of the said works. Therefore, the rights assigned was not merely confined to sound recording.Copyright of music is a bundle of several rights which includes a copyright of lyrics, music and sound-track.Once the music is impregnanted in the film,the copyright would subsist not only in the music but also the cinematograph film so far the portion of the song and sound recording are concerned.
The Court also noted that the assignment of the rights to Saregama was with respect to all things in future years to come and even to include modern technological medium or method of recreating the sounds either in its original form or by synchronization
The Court further noted that the Mehras were in receipt of royalty pursuant to the royalty agreement for synchronization of songs as recent as February 2010. Mehras were also cognizant of the fact that the song 'Apni toh jaise tese' has been allowed to be used by synchronization in Houseful. Mehras never really disputed the 1981 agreement although there was a complete denial of the factum of the existence of such an agreement in an earlier suit filed in Bombay. Accordingly, it is very clear that Saregama is entitled to grant license to any person and as such no prima facie case of infringement of copyright can be made.
As far as the status of Kalyanji-Anandji is concerned, the Court held that it is not in dispute that they are indeed the composers of the music of the film Lawaaris as well as the song 'Apni toh jese tese' However in the light of the 1981 agreement, it is clear that Mehras lawfully assigned the copyright in the music as well. It is also to be noted that no document was produced either by the heirs of Kalyanji or Anandji or the heirs of Mehra regarding the nature of engagement between Mehras and the music composer. Mehras nowhere stated that the duo retained the right of first ownership and hence prima facie, the conclusion is that the engagement was in the nature of contract of service.