Draft copyright Bill introduced, could transform film, music biz

Draft copyright Bill introduced, could transform film, music biz

New Delhi: The Union government on Monday introduced the Copyright Amendment Bill, 2010, in the Rajya Sabha that seeks to amend the Copyright Act, 1957.

The Bill, the most comprehensive attempt to amend the 1957 Act, will have far-reaching implications for the music and film industry. It seeks to give independent rights to lyricists, composers and singers as the authors of literary and musical works in films.

If the Bill is enacted, authors, especially lyricists, will get royalties and other benefits from the commercial exploitation of their work. Under the present copyright regime, the right to receive royalty vests with the music firms and producers.

The music companies are unhappy with the proposed change.

“Currently, the composers and lyricists receive an upfront payment for the job they perform. That’s the way the Indian music industry, which is dominated by film music, works," said Apurv Nagpal, chief executive of major label Saregama.

Neeraj Kalyan, vice-president at music firm T-Series, agreed with Nagpal. “That lyricists and composers cannot assign their rights to anybody is unheard of anywhere in the world." His argument is that it is the music companies and film-makers who spend big money on creating music. “We had even said that we could share the royalty once we recoup our costs but the clause that rights cannot be assigned to anybody is unacceptable," he added.

However, singer Shubha Mudgal, who petitioned the government for amending the Act, is pleased that the Bill was tabled in Parliament.

“We must understand that the Copyright Act goes beyond film music. The amendment will empower?artistes. The government has taken cognizance of the fact artistes are publishing their own labels and small recording companies are coming up. This industry will grow in the next five years and the government is empowering these artistes," she said.

Kapil Sibal, Union minister for human resource development, welcomed the Bill. “This legislation will help artistes and encourage a lot of new talent from the grass roots level," he said.

The draft Bill envisages a change in the role of directors.

“After the commencement of the Copyright Amendment Act, 2010, the producer and the principal director shall be treated jointly as the first owner of copyright," according to the draft.

Under the present law, only the producer enjoys such rights. Further, the term of the copyright for films can be extended from 60-70 years provided the producer enters into an?agreement?with?the?director.

Vipul Shah, director of films such as Namaste London and Singh is Kinng, said that a director can never be co-owner of the copyright. “If that’s a clause in the draft, then it can be challenged," said Shah.

The Bill also seeks to introduce statutory licensing to broadcasting organizations to access literary and musical works and sound recordings. A statutory licence or compulsory licence is a copyright licence to use content under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. For example, radio companies don’t need to obtain permission from the copyright holders to play a song, but must pay usage fees to the copyright holders based on how often a particular song is played. Intellectual property rights lawyer Saikrishna Rajagopal said the provision of licensing was welcome from the point of view of the broadcasting industry.


Shuchi Bansal contributed to this story.