A DIPP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the department will appoint members and a chairman to the copyright board within two to three months that will decide the royalties to be paid by online music streaming companies to music right owners. Photo: iStockphoto
A DIPP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the department will appoint members and a chairman to the copyright board within two to three months that will decide the royalties to be paid by online music streaming companies to music right owners. Photo: iStockphoto

Copyright issue: Immediate relief for audio streaming websites unlikely

The Copyright Board, entrusted with adjudication of disputes, is currently dysfunctional without any member or chairman

New Delhi: Even though the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) brought Internet broadcasting under the ambit of the copyright law on Monday, an immediate relief for audio streaming websites is unlikely as the Copyright Board is currently dysfunctional without any member or chairman.

The Copyright Board, a quasi-judicial body, was constituted in September 1958. The Board is entrusted with the task of adjudication of disputes pertaining to copyright registration, assignment of copyright, grant of licences in respect of works withheld from public, unpublished Indian works, production and publication of translations and works for certain specified purposes.

A DIPP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the department will appoint members and a chairman to the copyright board within two to three months that will decide the royalties to be paid by online music streaming companies to music right owners. “It will be an autonomous body and DIPP will have nothing to do with it," he said.

The government shifted the Copyright Board to DIPP from the department of higher education in May, making the former the nodal agency for all intellectual property matters.

Now, music companies and streaming websites have to approach the Copyright Board to decide royalty on songs.

Since Internet broadcasting was not covered under the Copyrights Act so far, music rights owners used to have an upper hand in deciding royalties to be paid by streaming websites and were not bound to share the revenues with artists.

In a notification, DIPP said it has received representations from various stakeholders as to whether Internet broadcasting companies come under the purview of statutory licensing under section 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957. “These representations were examined in consultation with concerned ministries/departments," it said.

In its interpretation of section 31D, DIPP said the words “any broadcasting organisation desirous of communicating to the public" may not be restrictively interpreted to be covering only radio and television broadcasting as definition of “broadcast" read with “communication to the public" appears to be including all kinds of broadcast including Internet broadcasting. “Thus, the provisions of section 31D are not restricted to radio and television broadcasting organisations only, but cover internet broadcasting organisations also," it added.

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