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Industry Viewpoints: Indian Copyright Act 1958 Revisited
Perceptions on the copyright amendment about to take place in India
By Ria Shah
(more articles from this author)
2010-08-23
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The Indian Music Industry is now faced with a shape-shifting issue pertaining to a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act of 1958. Ria Shah questioned veteran ghazal singer and composer, Jagjit Singh; renowned lyricist Sameer Anjan; music director Lalit Pandit of the famous duo Jatin-Lalit; CEO of Phonographic Performance Limited Vipul Pradhan; CEO of Indian Performing Rights Society Rakesh Nigam and Saregama Vice President A&R, Publishing & New Media Atul Chuaramani to know their perception on the copyright amendment about to take place. The comments of our guests who have been interviewed are unedited.

What are your grievances against the IPRS and the copyright law of 1957?

Jagjit Singh: "Countries where the laws are effective like European countries, United States where they safeguard the interests of their artists. In India despite of having copyright laws, it is not implemented. The laws are weak in our nation."

Sameer Anjan: "We don't have rights which we deserve, 50% royalty is not paid to us by IPRS, and music labels are exploiting our work, not giving us mechanical rights. Since IPRS has stopped paying us royalty, we collect our royalty from PRS."

Lalit Pandit: "None of the composers and authors is a part of the IPRS except the old and inactive ones. We have no idea what happens at IPRS inspite of being an organization for us. We are entitled only 2 and half percent of the royalty and not 50% of performing royalty. Every case we fight against the music companies and IPRS, I, Pritam, Aadesh Shrivastav, Shankar- contribute 1lakh rupees every time from our hard earned money whereas IPRS is fighting cases from the money which is ours."

Who according to you are the rightful owners of the content?

Atul Churamani: "We as labels have nothing to do with who sells us the content- we buy it from the producer who owns the right and that's why we deal with them and not with authors and composers. It is an issue of ownership which the authors and composers must deal with the producers."

Vipul Pradhan: "Some of the things the authors and composers are demanding already exist in the law. The law says, when it is done on work on hire, in absence of any contract, the producer would be deemed to be the copyright owner. The same law states that if the authors and composers want to retain their right, they can get in contractual understanding with the producers and have their rights. Some of the leading artists from our country have already started to retain their right which essentially means the changed business models. Some of the new age creators are willing to be a part of the development of the rights i.e. if the music does well they should be remunerated more and if it doesn't than share miseries with the producer and music companies. This business model - lesser money charged as fees for generating the content & larger portion reserved for revenue sharing with the rights owner (producer). Once the producer has sold these rights to the music company, the now owners (music companies) shall share the revenue of all sorts provided it is mentioned in the contract. It is only about how you exercise your rights."

Your views on the IPRS letter?

Sameer Anjan: "IPRS wants us to sign a letter of undertaking which states that the labels are the owners of the content and not us, only thereafter they shall pay us the royalty. But already the labels and IPRS have been stating we are not the owners then why do they require us to sign the same"

Lalit Pandit: "IPRS is asking us to sign the letter accepting the music companies as the owners of the content and not us. This proves that the IPRS and music companies feel that we are the owners of the content. If we do not sign it they will not pay us royalty"

Rakesh Nigam: "50% performance royalty hasn't been paid to the registered authors and composers' accordance to the MOU, due to the disputes with the board, the board decided that only the authors and composers who sign a letter stating that the music companies are the owners of the content, only then royalty will be granted by IPRS to them."

Where does a singer fit into all of this?

Atul Churamani: "As far as the singer is concerned the law does not provide them royalty. When a singer makes a live performance we as music companies do not go to them and ask for our share from the performance fee as we have spent so much money to promote them as an artist and the song your singing at the performance and minting money"

Vipul Pradhan: "As per the current copyright law singers do not have any remunerative right. They are entitled only for their onetime fee and the rights rest with the producer. "

How does the producer fit into the scheme of things?

Sameer Anjan: "There have been many contracts when the ownership belongs to us but the producer has gone and sold it to the labels. When we ask the labels for our royalty on its ownership, they direct us to the producer saying it's not their fault and request us to sort it out with the producer. Producer denies the ownership of the rights anymore. If the labels did not have come in between, the problem would have never created. Labels have done wrong to us. Earlier the films which we made, 90% of them didn't have any contracts. In absence of the producer the labels claim ownership on our content."

Lalit Pandit: "The producers are also helpless because the labels ask them to get agreements of surrendering rights from our end. Even if we sign agreements with the producers we still are the owners of our content as we are its parents.

Atul Churamani: "Authors and composers who are the creators have transferrable rights from which the revenue is generated. They can either retain or assign it. The music labels if not buy it from the production company might buy it from the creators itself. Any new models will not change anything at the end of the music company, they will buy it from the producer or from the authors and composers- the role of the music company is to buy and sell either. The current business model does not generate a lot of revenues for the label so it is the matter of adjustment to decide whether to pay it to the producer of or the authors and composers. It won't make much difference to the music companies as they have to pay one of them. It will make a difference to the producer; if the right is not deemed with the producer then the valuation of the right which they eventually sell to the music company will go down."

Is the mechanical royalty what has led to this scenario?

Atul Chauramnai: "Yes the mechanical rights have a big role to play in their royalty demand. "

Lalit Pandit: "We want all the rights that a composer and author get in the western countries. Mechanical makes a huge chunk of the royalty following in from our own creations. "

Rakesh Nigam: "Authors and composers now not only want the performing rights royalty but also the mechanical rights royalty."

Sameer Anjan: "We want all the rights that authors and composers get worldwide. Labels are minting money from the mechanical rights without parting any money to us. Earlier we never asked for mechanical rights due to no digital market but it exists now and we want our share."

Biggest film music owner like T- series, Yash Raj & Eros are not a part of the IPRS. Are they also deemed to pay royalties to authors and composers?

Rakesh Nigam: "If the authors and composers have a principle to seek royalty from the IPRS, those principles should be applied on the other non IPRS music companies like T- Series, Yash Raj, and Eros etc.

Atul Chauramani: "We being the members at IPRS are ready to give the authors and composers voluntarily money for their welfare unlike other non IPRS labels not even ready to contribute that much. Why can't the authors and composers see that? "

Lalit Pandit: "Non IPRS music companies refrain from paying royalty to us."

Sameer Anjan: "We have asked T-series, Eros, Yash Raj also for royalty but they have refused."

Vipul Pradhan: "The music companies at the IMI with a historical agreement being the owners of the right have decided to contribute to the welfare of the authors and composers. This contribution is the voluntary scheme by IMI which is not by law. If other companies are not dispersing this money, they have the right to do that. It is a welfare scheme and not what the law prescribes."

What will the new amendment bring to you?

Sameer Anjan: "The new amendment law will be in our favor now. Even the press note on the government website states the labels doing wrong to us". Lalit Pandit "Hope the new amendment is in our favor and the government understands our sad state"

Atul Churamani: "Authors and composers want the mechanical rights also for instance from the sale of ringtones. They are already bestowed with royalty for performance but now they want a cut from the mechanical rights, they can't get everything. We need to wait and watch what the new amendment is and how much mechanical share is provided to the authors and composers. Worldwide it is 8-10% but as the authors and composers had earlier demanded 50% of mechanical rights too which does not exists worldwide, we need to see if it I granted or not and if not that percentage then how much will it be."

Vipul Pradhan: "I think it's very premature to comment on the amendment. Authors and composers who are the creators have transferrable rights from which the revenue is generated. They can either retain or assign it. The music labels if not buy it from the production company might buy it from the creators itself. Any new models will not change anything at the end of the music company, they will buy it from the producer or from the authors and composers- the role of the music company is to buy and sell either. The current business model does not generate a lot of revenues for the label so it is the matter of adjustment to decide whether to pay it to the producer of or the authors and composers. It won't make much difference to the music companies as they have to pay one of them. It will make a difference to the producer; if the right is not deemed with the producer then the valuation of the right which they eventually sell to the music company will go down."

Rakesh Nigam: "It is premature to comment what the amendment shall be but there is a feel that the government wants to safeguard the rights of the authors and composers. All stakeholders should sit together and solve their differences rather than building on differences. Only the user will benefit from such a situation by delaying or reducing the payments."

Where do the licensing bodies stand after the amendment?

Vipul Pradhan: "The amendment does not affect the licensing bodies like PPL. We shall still continue to license and monetize the content for the owners. We might see change in the owners of content or share of revenue."

Rakesh Nigam: "Even if the press note on the government website is harsh on the music labels, IPRS as a society will benefit and strengthen. There should be clarity in the flow of rights."

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» Indian Copyright Act 1958 Revisited - The Indian Music Industry is now faced with a shape-shifting issue pertaining to a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act (2010-03-15)


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