Compulsory License is the term generally applied to a statutory license to do an act covered by an exclusive right without the prior authorization of the right owner. Compulsory licensing allowed was for the use of protected without prior permission of the owner of the right.

  1. Copyright is the monopoly granted in exchange or as a quid pro quo for disclosure of work. Disclosure of various work enriches the society and keeps the march of mankind intact. Public Interest is a writ charge through the idea of copyright, its protection, enforcement.
  2. Any person can seek a voluntary license from the copyright owner in writing to publish work. This license is the result of negotiation over terms, royalties etc. Problems arise when the voluntary license does not materialize for any reason. Since the dissemination of work is necessary, mechanism seeking is provided to seek a compulsory license in certain circumstances subject to just compensation being paid to the owner of work.
  3. What happens when the owner of the work after its publication has refused to republish the work or allowed the republication of work. Section 31 enables a complaint to be filed before a copyright Board which jurisdiction is now vested in Intellectual property right appellate board when such refusal has resulted in work being withheld from the public.
  4. Similarly, when the owner of the work has refused to allow communication of the work by broadcast or that of a sound recording on terms of complainant considers not to be reasonable, a complaint can be filed before the board.
  5. Under Section 31A, of the Copyright Act 1957, when a work is unpublished or published but the author is dead or unknown or not traceable any person may apply to the board for exploitation of the work. The Board after due notice and hearing, if satisfied directs the Registrar to grant a license.
  6. The Central government may in public interest when a work is unpublished, or published but the author is dead or unknown or not traceable in public interest directs the author or his legal heirs to publish the work. If the publication is not made within the prescribed period the board on an application of any person grants the permission.
  7. Under Section 31B, of the Copyright Act, any person working for benefit of disabled person can seek the license from the board. It is significant that this license can be sought even with profit or business purpose. The Board may after hearing the owner of work grant license for benefit of disabled person.
  8. Under Section 31C of the Copyright Act, any person desirous of making a cover version of a sound recording may apply to the Board for publishing in the same medium in which the original version was published. Such an application can be filed after expiry of 5 years from first publication. The applicant desirous of obtaining the cover version should ensure that it is not mistaken as the original version the owner of the work and changes are not made to lyrics or music unless technically necessary. 
  9. A broadcasting organization may communicate a musical work or sound recording by paying royalties fixed by the Board. The rate of royalties may be different for radio and television broadcast.
  10. Under Sectio 32 of the Copyright Act, any person may seek the license to publish the translation of a literary or dramatic work. Such a license may be sought after the expiry of seven years for an Indian work, after three years of a foreign work and after one year when translated language is not in common use in a developed country. The Board may after hearing the owner grant such permission subject to payment of royalties. Certain other condition like the owner not having published the translation is to be satisfied. This license can be sought by broadcasting organization for a foreign work for the purpose of teaching or research in any field.
  11. In case of literary, scientific, or artistic work, if an edition is not available or any copies are not sold for six months, and such work is not available at a reasonable price when compared to works of similar nature, any person can seek a license from Copyright Board.  Certain conditions like seeking the voluntary license from the owner of the work have to be exhausted prior to seeking this license.
  12. When the owner of a work publishes a translation of a work or any edition of a work for which compulsory license was granted by the Board, this license shall be terminated on expiry of three months.  However, the license may exhaust all stock which was produced prior to the expiry of notice period.
  13. The locus of the complainant is a question to be decided by the Board.  The complainant will have to show the resources to republish the work or broadcast the work on such license being granted.  This may be the first threshold to be crossed by the complainant.  The ability of the complainant will be tested by the Board as well as the Registrar of Copyright.  Going by the judicial hierarchy of the Board and Registrar, the ability to exploit the work will be tested by Registrar only in case of persons who had not been before the Board or the Board has left it to the Registrar after taking a prima facie view.