Music creators welcome copyright amendment, industry unhappy
The Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010, which seeks to protect owners of literary or musical works, has been passed by the Rajya Sabha and will be presented to the Lok Sabha before it becomes law, much to the delight of singers, writers and composers. But some music companies feel that it is "extremely unfair"
The bill, which is to provide exclusive and moral rights to performers in conformity with the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and performances and phonograms treaty, has divided much of the showbiz world.
"The most important thing about the bill is that it covers every musician in the country, including folk, classical and everyone who has contributed to Indian cinema. This bill will bring international rules and regulations," composer Loy Mendosa of the trio Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy said.
The bill amends the Copyright Act, 1957, and makes special provisions for those whose work is used in films or sound recordings (lyricists or composers, for instance). Rights to royalties from such works, when used in media other than films or sound recordings, shall rest with the creator and can only be assigned to heirs or copyright societies which act in their interests.
The bill is to give authors, or their representatives, the right to claim damages against use of their work (while under copyright).
The new royalty, experts say, would be 50 percent for music label; 25 percent for producer and 25 percent to be split between the lyricist and the composer. Currently, 100 percent goes to the music label.
Adarsh Gupta, business head of a music company, said the proposed legislation spells disaster.
"It is extremely unfair to the film and music industry. It will turn out to be a real issue in times to come. I don't think there will be any creative compromises. There will be a lot of litigation on this issue. The entire equation will need to be re-assessed from start to finish," Gupta said.
Ravi Badal, owner of a music company, was not so pessimistic. Music, he said, does not sell in India as most people download it free.
"I believe when someone creates something, he has the right to that creation. Since the beginning, there have been no rights for them (composers and lyricists) and music companies and producers were getting the rights. Now it is recognised by the government," he said.
Composers and lyricists were exultant. According to composer Debojyoti Mishra, the bill is "the most important thing that has ever happened to Indian composers, lyricists and people who are writing scripts".
He also referred to the contribution of lyricist Javed Akhtar, now a Rajya Sabha MP, who has been pushing for an amendment in the copyright laws to give music directors and lyricists a share of the profits earned on their work.
Writer Vayu Shrivastava said it would stop unfair practices. "Writers get basic remuneration. But when the song is a big hit, only the producer and music companies get most of the money. It's unfair as it is our product as well. The remuneration depends upon name - if you are a big name, you get more than others."
Singer Sunidhi Chauhan said the amendment was much needed and "artists must get their due".