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The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. v. Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. (MANU/MH/1597/2016)


  • Whether disputes on the issue of refund of royalty is an arbitrable matter?


  • The rights granted to an IPR owner are considered as “rights in rem” because they protect the owner’s property from everyone and not just from one specific person.
  • Any issues involving rights in rem are to be settled by Courts.
  • Since determining the validity of intellectual property is an issue that can only be handled by the Copyright Board and is not subject to arbitration, the issue of refunding royalties cannot be settled by arbitration.


  • In 2001, the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (the “defendant”) and the Indian Performing Arts Society (the “plaintiff”) entered into an agreement that included an arbitration clause and granted the defendant a licence to broadcast the artists’ works on its radio channel and the licence agreement said that the royalty was to be paid in advance every six months and that any inconsistencies had to be reported within 60 days.
  • The dispute arose for payment of royalty, and also the defendant invoked the arbitration agreement.
  • The arbiter held that the transmission of a sound chronicle without consent of the lyricist, along with the composer, doesn’t comprise an infringement of copyright.
  • Bothered by this, parties raised their objections and filed separate arbitration petitions before the tribunal of Delhi for putting aside the arbitral decision under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996[44], and these arbitration petitions were heard jointly by the Court.


  • ​​​​​​​The Hon’ble High Court held that the learned arbitrator had rendered a finding on the legal character and validity of the ownership of the respondent in the copyright, and thus, the said award would be in the nature of an adjudication on an action in rem.
  • The Court rejected the arbitral award on the grounds of the dispute being in nature of a non-arbitral dispute.
  • The Court pointed out that the question of a refund of royalties in this case could only be resolved once the Copyright Board had decided on the issue of the intellectual property’s legality.