Tamil Nadu

HC stays order permitting Echo Recording to exploit Ilayaraaja’s compositions

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday stayed a single judge’s order permitting music company Echo Recording to commercially exploit songs composed by acclaimed musician Ilayaraaja on the basis of rights obtained from various film producers.

Justices M. Duraiswamy and T.V. Thamilselvi granted the interim stay following an appeal preferred by the composer. Appearing on behalf of him, senior counsel Satish Parasaran argued that the single judge’s order was based on assumptions and presumptions.

In the order passed on June 4, 2019, the single judge had held that the composer would be entitled to only special moral rights to his compositions and Echo Recording could continue to exploit his songs commercially on the basis of the agreements signed with film producers.

Assailing the verdict, Mr. Ilayaraaja, in an affidavit filed through his counsel on record A. Saravanan, said he had composed over 8,500 songs, besides being the only composer in the world to have composed music for 1,418 feature films in more than nine languages. He had also written lyrics for over 1,500 songs and sung about 1,000 songs. He had never assigned the copyrights for his compositions to anyone but for his wife Jeeva Raja, and that assignment was also no longer subsisting on account of her death, the appellant said.

Arguing that the single judge had assumed that all film producers had commissioned the appellant to compose music for their films, the composer said his method of working was different, and it was he who chose the filmmaker to whom he would give his compositions. The remuneration received by him from the producers was only to allow them to use his compositions in their movies and not to assign copyrights, he said. He pointed out that on most occasions, the filmmakers had used his pre-composed songs in their movies.

At times, he had not even insisted on remuneration for allowing the use of his compositions in the movies because he had either liked the script or the filmmaker, the composer said, adding that the single judge had not gone into all these aspects.

The composer also raised a technical objection to the single judge having decided the civil suit without referring it to the commercial division of the High Court when the dispute between him and the music company was essentially commercial in nature. “Failure to do so amounts to an error of jurisdiction in as much as a commercial dispute has been decided by a non-commercial court,” he said, urging the Division Bench to set aside the verdict and refer the matter to a commercial court.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2022 10:27:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-stays-order-permitting-echo-recording-to-exploit-ilayaraajas-compositions/article65062839.ece