The new Act is said to be “empowering the creative sector” and strengthens the royalty claims of artistes, song and script writers, musicians and addresses newer issues related to the digital world and the Internet. The legislation was approved by the Rajya Sabha on May 17th and law provides that authors are the owners of the copyright for their creative work and that this right cannot be assigned to producers, as has been common the practice.
The Act also makes it mandatory for broadcasters from both the radio and television industry to pay royalty to the owners of copyright each time a work of art is broadcast. The law also bans cover versions of literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.
Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who had moved the bill in Lok Sabha, noted that artistes who came from poor background were often left to fend for themselves, as film and record producers cornered all royalties that came from the work, be it stories or scripts or songs. He said the legislation was to help the artistes achieve a decent living even in old age, continuing to receive their dues for the work done during their prime. Giving examples of Shehnai exponent Bismillah Khan and music composer Ravi, the minister pointed out that the financial position of such outstanding artistes was "pitiable" and they were unable to even pay their housing and medical costs, after long and successful careers. The Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, also supported the bill and said it was long overdue. Swaraj said that film producers had lobbied her to oppose the bill but she decided to support it when well-known director and music composer Vishal Bhardwaj said the amendments were for the good of lyricists.
The bill also seeks to bring the Indian Copyright Act 1957 in conformity with "international norms" and "World Intellectual Property Organisation guidelines".
The President of the Association of Radio Operators for India Anurradha Prasad said the radio industry will “now survive” saying “I am extremely overjoyed for the industry and the creative professionals. I would also like to say that it is a win-win situation for everyone from the industry. It is just like that if you kill the chicken the egg will stop coming". "The music industry should also be happy with the bill,” she told Radioandmusic.com.
Sony Music Entertainment India and Middle-East president Shridhar Subramaniam stated: “This amendment is an extremely positive move and we are very supportive of this bill. This was long awaited and we believe this will help the overall artiste development and align us with global practices. We now need to wait for the law to be signed by the president and then begin the process of interpreting and implementing the new developments in a broad and consensual manner to develop healthy new practices. The only thing that we are disappointed with is not much has been done about the piracy issue that we all are struggling with and also the issue of statutory licenses for broadcasters."
But many in the movie industry, who have benefitted from acquiring control and ownership of scripts, songs and recordings in the past, were less than happy. Adarsh Gupta, business head of Saregama company, said the proposed legislation spells disaster saying "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".
The new royalty division is reported as 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 which can, as I understand it, also be a film company, although I am not clear on the definition of 'producer' at the time of posting this blog.