The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (Copyright & Design Section) has directed copyright societies to refrain from collecting royalties for playing music or performing other copyrighted work at wedding functions or other religious ceremonies. The Department has clarified that failure to comply with the direction would result in legal action.
In light of various complaints from the public and other stakeholders, it was considered prudent to issue this direction and inform the public about the legal position.
The copyright societies duly registered under the Copyright Act, 1957, are empowered to issue licences for copyrighted works and collect royalties on behalf of the copyright owners. However, Section 52 of the Act enumerates the acts that would not constitute copyright infringement; hence, the demand for fees or royalties for such acts is unwarranted.
In the public notice dated July 24, 2023, the Department draws attention to Section 52(1)(za) of the Act, under which the said exemption has been extended to “the performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work or the communication to the public of such work or of 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”. Here, “religious ceremony” would include marriage processions and other social festivities associated with a marriage.