Interpreting “Performers Rights” in The Indian Copyright Act to Appropriately Provide For Singers Rights

Agrawal, Akshat


Performers act as a catalyst to communicate the relevant original content in a work. This article seeks to discuss two contentious questions with regard to the interpretation of Performers Rights provided under Section 38 and 39 of the Indian Copyright Act, specifically with respect to Singers’ Rights, and offers contrary opinions to the prevailing interpretations in the industry as well as one’s argued and accepted by the Delhi High Court. After analysing various doctrinal principles surrounding interpretation of statutes in India, this article firstly concludes that Section 39A of the Indian Copyright Act, and the royalty scheme therein, is applicable with a “Retroactive” effect in India; and secondly that every performance rendered in real time, irrespective of it being in front of an audience, on a stage, or in the studio, ought to be covered under the definition of a Performance under Section 2(q) read with Section 38 of the Indian Copyright Act, to effectively provide for Performers Rights, encapsulated within the Indian legislative schema. This article also attempts to harmonize these interpretations with a comparative as well as an international IP perspective.


Performers Rights; Statutory Interpretation; Legislative Intent; WIPO Performances; Phonograms Treaty, 1996

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