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SINGER PULAVAR KEERAN’S WIFE SELLAPPAPA TO BE THE COPYRIGHT OWNER OF HIS LITERARY WORKS: MADRAS HIGH

September 3, 2021: The Hon’ble Madras High Court rejected the claims of proprietor of Vani Recording Company, S. Vijayaraghavan and acknowledged that there was no evidence to point out that the recordings were made by author and singer Pulavar Keeran under any contract of service or during the course of employment with the firm. Hon’ble Justice R. Subramanian made the declaration that the wife of later singer Pulavar Keeran will be the sole copyright holder of the literary works of her husband while allowing a civil appeal from Keeran’s wife Sellappapa.

The Court’s predictable answer to the issue in the case was that, the plaintiff as the legal heir of the author and singer will be entitled to first copyright of the work. The Hon’ble Court rejected the claims of defendant and held that assignment of copyright cannot be oral. The Court held that the license or assignment of copyright has to be in writing as per the provisions of section 19 and 20 of the Copyright Act. The Judge added that the claims of the defendant regarding the purchasing the copyright with consideration cannot be accepted in the absence of a written agreement. According to the findings of the Hon’ble Court, the sales made by the defendant become unauthorized in the absence of such an agreement and therefore this makes the defendant liable to make up for the sales to the plaintiff who is the copyright holder.

The suit was allowed with costs and the defendant was directed to surrender all the master tapes original speeches, lectures and discourses and works of late Pulavar Keeran or any other records.

- Saura Jitendra Patil

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