Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. Vs. Nirulas Corner House (P) Ltd.
2008 (37) PTC 237 (Del)
Plaintiff was a copyright holder of certain literary and musical works, sound recordings, music videos and cinematograph films. Defendant was engaged in the business of hotels.
The Plaintiff found that few audio clippings of songs in which the Plaintiff owned copyright were being played on the television in rooms of the Defendant’s hotel. Plaintiff alleged that such transmission of works, without a license amounts to infringement of the copyright as the Defendants communicates the works to the public.
Guests in the Defendant’s hotel rooms would amount to ‘public’ audience, since as the defendant provides the service directly to the customers and not the cable operator.
The television sets installed in the rooms by the defendant are the means through which electronic signals are converted into audio and video signals, and therefore constitute a separate act of communication to the public distinct from the act of the cable operator.
Plaintiff has neither made any averment in relation to the broadcast itself being unlicensed nor has he made the broadcaster a party to the present proceeding.
Defendant was merely receiving the signals transmitted by the cable operator.
Plaintiff has no locus standi to file the present suit as an independent copyright of the Broadcast subsists in a broadcaster.
Irrespective of whether the guests view the televisions or not, same fare is charged, and the Defendant does not profit from the guest viewing or not viewing the television.
The definition of ‘communication to public’ in this case would mean that broadcast is deemed to be communication to the public.
Under Section 51(ii) infringement occurs, if anyone permits for profit, any place to be used for the communication of the work to the public where such communication constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the work, unless he was not aware and had no reasonable ground for believing that such communication to the public would be an infringement of copyright.
The exception to this definition of infringement is contained in terms of Section 52(1)(k) which states that the causing of a recording to be heard in an enclosed room or hall meant for the common use of residents in any residential premises (not being a hotel or similar commercial establishment) as part of the amenities provided exclusively or mainly for residents is not deemed an infringement.
Exception is the guiding light to the legislative intent of treating use of televisions and sound recordings, in hotels as communications to the public.
Plaintiff has been able to show that the Defendant is using cable connection and extending facilities of television to their patrons in the hotel rooms. Prima facie, the content of songs and videos broadcast are communications to the public. The defendant is a hotel. In the circumstances, the plaintiff has established a strong prima facie case of infringement.