Published 22:12 IST, April 25th 2024

Madras High Court Rejects Ilaiyaraaja’s Sole Claim On Songs As ‘There Are No Songs Without Lyrics’

A split bench consisting of Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq ruled that Ilaiyaraaja cannot claim sole ownership of songs.

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Ilaiyaraaja | Image: File Photo

The legal battle between private recording company Echo and legendary Tamil musician Ilaiyaraaja came to its conclusion on Wednesday, April 24. In a significant move, the Madras High Court ruled that Ilaiyaraaja cannot claim sole ownership of songs because lyrics are an integral part of the music, reported Live Law.

Ilaiyaraaja vs Echo recording company

A split bench consisting of Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq considered an appeal filed by Echo contesting the ruling of the single judge, acknowledging Ilayaraja's unique right to the 4,500 songs he wrote.



As per Live Law, Echo's senior attorney Vijay Narayan used section 17 of the Copyrights Act in support of his argument that if a producer hires a composer, the producer becomes the proprietor of the work. They argued that the producer who hired Ilayaraja owns the full sound, including the music, lyrics, and performance, even if Ilayaraja is the owner of the music notes that he composed. In response, Ilaiyaraaja's attorney argued that regardless of contracts with producers, he still owns the copyright to his music.


Court’s ruling on Ilaiyaraaja case

The court noted that although Ilaiyaraaja has the exclusive right over the melody, he is not the only one. The court stated that he could not be the only owner of the tunes and questioned what would happen if the lyricists or singers requested ownership as well, as they are also integral in the making of a song. 



The petition should be considered in detail, the court said, and it will be brought up again in the second week of June. The same bench stated a week ago at the case hearing that Ilaiyaraaja shouldn't be regarded as superior to other people who worked on the song.

22:12 IST, April 25th 2024