Author: Intern - Kashish Daga
In the matter of Ten Events and Entertainment vs Novex Communication Private Limited & Ors [2023/DHC/003269], Single Judge [C. Hari Shankar, J.] of High Court of Delhi vide judgment dated May 12, 2023 in a suit for permanent injunction held that the social festivities associated with marriage need not partake religious color in order to be exempted from copyright infringement.
Section 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (the Act) exempts from the purview of copyright infringement, “…a sound recording in the course of any bona fide religious ceremony or an official ceremony held by the Central Government or the State Government or any local authority.” The explanation of the section reads that “For the purpose of this clause, religious ceremony including a marriage procession and other social festivities associated with a marriage”. The question that arises is whether the ‘social festivities’ associated with marriage must be religious in nature to qualify as bona fide religious ceremonies?
The Plaintiff contended that Section 52(1) (za) of the Act absolutely exempts playing of sound recordings in wedding ceremonies and festivities associated therewith from the scope and ambit of copyright infringement. The plaintiff also submitted that “social festivities associated with marriage”, as contained in the explanation of the section refers to all events surrounding the procession of marriage and other social festivities associated with the marriage would be included therein.
The Defendant argued that the “wedding ceremonies” to which the explanation to Section 52(1)(za) alludes, have to partake of the colour of the religious ceremonies. It was also submitted that the kind of songs over which Defendant holds copyright are not of the kind which are played in bona fide religious ceremonies.
The High Court observed that “it is not possible to accept the contention that the reference to a religious ceremony, as contained in Section 52(1)(za), should also percolate to its Explanation. Once the Explanation includes, in the expression “religious ceremony”, for the purposes of Section 52(1)(za), a marriage procession and other social festivities associated with the marriage, every marriage procession, and all social festivities associated with the marriage would, ipso facto, be deemed to be a “religious ceremony”. It is not necessary that the marriage procession, or the associated social festivities, partake of any religious character.”
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