Compulsory license is a statutory license that gives the liberty to use the
copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner. It is an exclusive
right to do an act related to the copyrighted work. This is practiced whenever a
copyrighted work is withheld from the public domain.
There are few details that should be included in a license agreement, some of
them are the work and rights which are licensed needs to be identified, duration
or the time period of the license, the royalty that is payable and the agreement
shall also include the terms and conditions related to the license which
includes the conditions for the extension or termination of the license.
There are two important things that needs to keep in mind, one is that the
license should be in a written form and it should be signed by the copyright
owner or any other agent authorized by him.
A compulsory license is covered under Section 31 to 31B of Indian Copyright
At present, there are five types of compulsory licenses in India. These are the
kinds licenses of which include the works withheld from the public without the
appropriate reason, the second type of license is related to orphan works, the
third type of license is related to the differently abled, other types include
the licenses related to translations and the last one is licenses related to the
reproduction and sale of works which are not available in India.
Why it is Important?
Compulsory Licensing in the copyrighted work is important due to various reasons
such as, it provides access to the works that have been unreasonably withheld
from the public domain. It provides access to the public so that it can be used
for various academic and beneficial reasons. As it is well known that it gives
license for various kinds of the license which includes orphan works as well as
the works from a disabled person.
It is also important as compulsory licensing can be granted in cases of
unpublished works where the author dies before the publishing of the work and
through means of compulsory licensing it can be brought in the public domain.
The case of unpublished work includes authors which are unknown, dead or who
cannot be traced and as a result, any person can request the board and seek a
license to publish the work.
The main motive behind compulsory licensing is to give the availability of the
work to the public so that they can use and benefit from the work for various
purposes. It is also important to note that the work should be used in a fair
manner and no malpractices should be practiced. When the copyright works will be
available to all with certain limitations it will lead to better development of
One of the most landmark judgments is the “Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. V.
Super Cassette Industries Ltd.”, in the present case while radio Mirchi was
playing songs, super cassette claimed the rights on it. It also filed for a
permanent injuction at the same time. At the time of the pending of the suit the
FM operators also applied for the grant of compulsory licensing under the
The issue which was in question was whether the granting of the compulsory
license was viable at this time and the court said that compulsory licensing can
only be granted when denied to public access and in the present case the license
was already granted to the AIR and Radio City so Radio Mirchi was liable for the
infringement of copyright. It is a case from the year 2004.