Jothipala’s copyright case continues | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Jothipala’s copyright case continues

H.R. Jothipala
H.R. Jothipala

Thirty-one-years after the death of Sri Lanka’s popular singer H.R. Jothipala, his family is in a legal battle for ownership of his songs.

This matter was taken up before Western Province Civil High Court Judge Ruwan Fernando who fixed the case for October 17 ordering plantiffs and defendant to make submission on that day.

Jothipala’s widow Blossom Jothipala and their four daughters had filed this case against Marians’ Music Group Leader, Nalin Perera.

Plaintiffs requested Court to direct the defendant Nalin to pay damages of Rs. 10 million and issue an Interim Order to prevent him from holding musical shows using the late Jothipala’s photographs and his songs, until the case concludes. Plaintiffs also sought for a permanent injunction against Nalin, not to use photographs and songs of Jothipala in future musical shows.

According to the plaint filed under the Intellectual Property Act, Jothipala was the most popular singer in Sri Lanka. He was popular in foreign countries as well. He had held 242 musical shows abroad and was a playback singer for 452 films.

After Jothipala’s death, the defendant - Nalin began to organise musical shows using Jothipala’s name, photographs and songs in advertisements to make money.

Plaintiffs through their lawyer informed him by letter to stop his unlawful act, but he continued to do so despite their objection. On 22 January 2017, the defendant Nalin held a musical show at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre named ‘Kings of 70s Unplugged’.

According to plaintiffs, it was a musical show to earn money by using Jothipala’s image with photographs on posters to promote the show. The Marian’s Music Group of defendant Nalin used late Jothipala’s songs, sold tickets at Rs. 5000, 2000, 1500 without the permission of the plaintiffs.

Defendant Nalin Perera filed objections through Vidanapathirana Associates and stated that plaintiffs are totally misconceived in law. Defendant objected to the reliefs sought in the application. Defendant Nalin admits that late H.R. Jothipala was a very popular singer. Even today he is popular. Jothipala was only a singer and musical performer. He did not write songs or lyrics not create melodies or compose any song. Therefore plaintiffs have no right under the Intellectual Property Act.

Plaintiffs also failed to produce any evidence to prove that they are the lawful holders of the copyright. The Marians Musical Group is registered as a business entity. Defendant Nalin in his objections stated that late Jothipala’s songs, lyrics, melodies were composed by third parties and they have vested their intellectual rights with the Authors, Composers and Publishers (ACP) organisation of Sri Lanka .

Marians had taken ACP approval for Kings of 70s Unplugged concert on payment of Rs. 55,000.

The Kings of 70s Unplugged concert was held to celebrate and commemorate the talents and musical performance of late H.R. Jothipala, late Clarence Wijewardana and late C.T. Fernando. Defendant Nalin and Marians Musical Group used their photographs in posters promoting the event.

Plaintiffs without any understanding of the intention of defendant filed this action. Therefore defendant requests Court to reject and dismiss the application. Furthermore defendant states that a significant portion of the revenue obtained from Kings of 70s Uunplugged concert was given to charity - Rs. 450,000 for the construction of a drinking water system at Central College,Welikada, Polonnaruwa.

Tarindu Rajakaruna with Chintaka Fernando instructed by Nalin Samarakoon appeared for plantiffs.

President Counsel Dinal Phillips with Ms. R. Rabukwella, U. Jayasinghe, Nilantha Sirimanne instructed by Vidanapathirana Associates appeared for defendants.