India: Wanna Play Music Commercially? Pay The Royalities First!

Last Updated: 21 October 2016
Article by Khurana And Khurana

This may sound difficult given that commercial places in India have taken right to play the music as their inherent one. Situation may change soon after two recent judgements of Hon'ble Delhi HC. First one was delivered by JUSTICE S. MURALIDHAR on August 12, 2016 and second one was delivered by JUSTICE V. KAMESWAR RAO on September 30, 2016. Interestingly in both the cases, Indian Singers' Rights Association (ISRA) was involved as plaintiff. In both the decisions, applicant court gave decision in favour of plaintiff and asked defendant to pay royalties to the plaintiff.

Basic information on ISRA, laws relating performance rights have been discussed below:

ISRA is the first Copyright Society to be registered by the Central Government after the 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act. According to its official website, M/s. Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar, Gurdaas Mann, Pankaj Udhas, Alka Yagnik, Kumar Sanu, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Sonu Nigam & Sanjay Tandon with support from M/s. Asha Bhosle, Shaan, Kunal Ganjawala, Sunidhi Chauhan, Mahalaxmi Iyer and others formed the ISRA (Indian Singers' Rights Association). ISRA was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee under the Companies Act, 1956 on 3rd May, 2013. Thereafter, ISRA filed for Registration as a Copyright Society as per Section 33 of the Copyright Act and received its Certificate of Registration from the Central Government on 14th June, 2013. ISRA is independent of The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd.). IPRS looks after the interests & Royalties of Composers/Lyricists. PPL looks after the interests & Royalties of Music Labels. ISRA looks after the interests & Royalties of Singers. The Copyright (amendment) Act, 2012 came into effect from 21st June, 2012. The amendments were historic in a way that they amended the provision regarding "Performers" to protect their interests in line with India's international commitments. "Performer's Right" in India after the amendment is in harmony with Article 14 of the TRIPS Agreement as also is compatible with Articles 5 to 10 of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). The Performers' Rights subsist for 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the performance is made. Section 38A and section 38B respectively provide for economic rights and moral rights over the performance.

According to section 38 A, the Performer's Right are an exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of any of the following acts in respect of the performance or any substantial part thereof:

  1. to make a sound recording or a visual recording of the performance;
  2. to reproduce the performance in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic or any other means;
  3. to issue copies of the performance to the public not being copies already in circulation;
  4. to communicate the performance to the public;
  5. to sell or give the performance on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the recording and;
  6. to broadcast or communicate the performance to the public except where the performance is already a broadcast.

The "Performers Right" runs parallel to Rights of Composers/Songwriters, Producers & Music Companies. It's interesting to note that Performer can assign his copyright but cannot assign or waive the right to receive royalties for the utilization of such performance in any form other than for the communication to the public of the performance along with the film in a cinema hall. The performer can assign the right to receive royalties to either his Legal Heir or a Copyright Society for collection and distribution. This cannot be even circumvented by contract to the contrary.

ISRA soon after its creation decided the amount of royalty that has to be paid to the performer. Different Tarrif schemes such as applicable to radio broadcasting, broadcasting over satellite/ TV channel can be accessed at http://isracopyright.com/tariff_scheme.php .

After these judgements, rights of singers are clearly established and commercial establishments will have to change long continued practices of playing the music without paying royalties to singers.

Kudos ISRA.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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