Spotify is a Swedish firm having a huge presence in the online music streaming industry across the world. Very recently, as it was gearing up to launch its services in India, its plans were disrupted by a Copyright Infringement battle brought up by Warner/Chappel Music Ltd.
Spotify was ready to launch its services on Tuesday, 26th February 2019. However, it was interjected by the legal suit filed before the Bombay High Court on Monday, 25th February 2019, by Warner/Chappel Music Ltd., an American music giant.
The company moved the Court in order to seek restraint against Spotify from accessing the songs and music published by the former without obtaining a license for its use. Warner/Chappel Music was represented by Senior Counsel Janak Dwarkadas who argued before the Court in the lines of Copyright infringement by Spotify.
Its primary contention was that Spotify would not be allowed to stream their products without first reproducing them. And to do that without a valid license would result in infringement of Copyright. He also submitted that Spotify has previously obtained similar licenses from Warner Music for reproducing their works in Europe, Middle East and Africa, thereby admitting that such an act cannot be done without a license.
Spotify, through Senior Counsel Aspi Chinoy, claimed that it could offer the songs on its platform pursuant to its application before the Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal for obtaining a statutory license under Section 31 D of the Copyright Act, 1957.
This claim was contended by the American company on the ground that Section 31 D would apply only to broadcasting organizations such as radio or television. Further, the streaming of music entails the right to communicate the musical works and the right to reproduce the said works. A license under Section 31D would give Spotify the right only to communicate the music and not to reproduce it.
On being asked by the Court whether they would be willing pay any such deposit as may be ordered by the Court pending any appeal, Spotify agreed.
Consequently, Justice SJ Kathawalla passed no injunction order against the Swedish music giant. However, Spotify was ordered to deposit a sum of Rs. 6.5 Crore with the Court, pending the adjudication of the dispute. Immediately after this favourable order by the Bombay High Court, Spotify has launched its services in India on 27th February 2019.