Audio Books v. Audio Summaries: Delhi HC and Copyright Implications

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[This post has been co-authored with Lokesh Vyas]

As reported on Entrackr, Pocket FM has filed a copyright infringement case in opposition to Kuku FM earlier than the Delhi Excessive Courtroom. Pocket FM alleges that Kuku FM has violated its copyright by offering audio summaries of books to which Pocket FM has unique rights to create audiobooks.

The matter continues to be being heard. Whereas pleadings are usually not uploaded on-line by the Delhi Excessive Courtroom, Entrackr has obtained copies of the pleadings and has mentioned a number of the key info and arguments right here.

Briefly, the audiobooks and the audio summaries concerned on this dispute are translated Hindi variations of widespread English books similar to Wealthy Dad, Poor Dad, Suppose Like a Monk and so on. Pocket FM claims to have an unique license from Manjul Publishing Home, the writer of translated titles, that holds the Hindi rights to those books. We’re not conscious of the precise phrases of this contract and the precise rights licensed to Pocket FM.

The character of rights granted to Pocket FM for creating its audio-books turns into related to look at within the first occasion. There are two free-standing works concerned i.e. the underlying written e book and the sound recording of the e book. Pocket FM ought to first be capable of set up that it has unique rights to create not solely full size audio-books but additionally audio summaries. As reported on Entrackr, Pocket FM claims to have ‘audio rights’ to those books and is arguing that Kuku FM has violated its adaptation and abridgement rights.

As per the Copyright Act, the correct to make an ‘adaptation’ of a e book (‘literary work’) is among the unique rights of a copyright proprietor.  The Copyright Act defines adaptation as (i) “in relation to a literary … work, any abridgement of the work or any model of the work during which the story or motion is conveyed wholly or primarily via footage in a type appropriate for copy in a e book, or in a newspaper, journal or related periodical.” The time period ‘abridgement’ will not be individually outlined. It may be argued that ‘abridgement’ solely occurs from one literary work to a different literary format –  one other e book, or a newspaper, journal, periodical and so on. This clause and subsequently abridgement doesn’t instantly match into what Pocket FM is doing (disseminating audiobooks). Nevertheless, Pocket FM should still have the correct to create an abridged literary model of the e book, report the abridged model after which talk the recorded model to the general public.

Adaptation can also be outlined to imply “in relation to any work, any use of such work involving its rearrangement or alteration”. Many films have been ‘tailored’ from books or performs and diversifications are typically understood to imply a change in format of a piece e.g. a literary work to a cinematograph movie. Pocket FM could have been granted the unique rights to adapt books to audio codecs.

Whereas the concept of adapting books for creating audio-books or audio summaries is a priceless industrial concept, copyright legislation protects expressions of inventive concepts somewhat than (industrial) concepts. For a full-length audiobook, this industrial concept is given inventive expression solely by following the narration, story-line and info as offered within the e book.The audio-book subsequently expresses the work in the identical manner because the written e book. Solely the medium of expression modifications. On this manner, a full-length audiobook is an adaptation of the e book for the reason that expressive facets of each the works are largely the identical.

In terms of audio-summaries, nonetheless, issues get a bit of difficult. Audio-summaries contain a change in format from literary work to sound recording and summaries are primarily condensed variations of the supply work (rearrangements / alterations). Seen this manner, it’s doable that audio-summaries might qualify as diversifications and subsequently require permission from copyright holders. Nevertheless, summaries could also be unique works in and of themselves, involving impartial thought and expression. These are questions of info and levels and can depend upon the quantity of the supply work that has been taken and the style during which summaries have been created / expressed.

If it may be proven that the summaries are extra like ‘abstracts’ which might be quick and convey important concepts somewhat than expressions, it’s extra possible that the summaries shall be non-infringing. Sometimes, abstracts are quick, convey important concepts, contain talent and energy to create, don’t supplant the supply work, and draw consideration to and promote the supply work’s use / buy. Nevertheless, if the summaries are prolonged and mechanical ‘minimize and paste’ jobs, it’s unlikely that they are going to be protected.

Aside from idea-expression arguments, it stays to be seen whether or not audio-summaries can fall inside any of the Part 52 truthful use provisions. One provision of relevance is Part 52(1)(a) that allows ‘truthful dealing’ with any work for the aim of, amongst different issues, evaluation of that work. Prior to now, courts have held that guidebooks, that are books that specify the supply work, quantity ‘evaluation’ underneath Part 52. Nevertheless, the character and creation of guidebooks require a level of crucial considering and evaluation which can be absent in making a abstract.

On a extra fundamental degree, it might be argued that dissemination of summaries fulfils a bigger public coverage aim of diffusion of information. Layered on to that is the truth that the summaries are translated variations of English books which additional substantiates the entry to information argument. Summaries additionally help customers by compressing giant works which make them extra handy for consumption. Nevertheless, whether or not or not these are ‘truthful dealings’ will depend upon different components similar to quantity of the unique work used, the character of the books (fiction / non-fiction), the aim of the summaries (instructional, industrial / non-commercial), whether or not summaries substitute the unique books / audio-books or complement them (e.g. by offering hyperlinks to the full-length audio-books).

On the identical time, ought to we be cautious of slipping right into a ‘snippet’ tradition for books? Learnings from the information business, the creation and dissemination of stories snippets by information aggregators, needs to be thought of to grasp the bigger ramifications of a free-riding marketplace for audio summaries.

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