Home/ News / India/  IPRS, radio stations spar over royalty payments

Nearly two months after the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) upheld the rights of the Indian Performing Rights Society Ltd (IPRS) and its members, including lyricists, music publishers, and composers, to claim separate royalties from FM radio stations, the two parties are preparing for another prolonged legal battle.

When a particular sound recording is broadcast on radio, copyright on musical notes or literary works (lyrics) are not considered to be utilized independent of the sound recording, Delhi high court on 4 January ruled in a dispute on statutory licensing between IPRS and Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL), which runs Radio Mirchi. Thus, no separate licence needs to be obtained or royalties paid to the IPRS, it said. The only payments are to be made to music labels that own the rights.

Following the high court order in favour of Mirchi, radio operators have challenged the broader judgement of the IPAB, which was constituted by the Union ministry of commerce and industry to hear appeals of the registrar in cases relating to patents and registered trademarks. The case will be heard on 3 March.

IPRS said its biggest weapon was the 2012 amendment to the Copyright Act, 1957, which said if an author’s work is used for new formats he should be compensated for it. IPRS said the lyricist and composer make huge contributions to the song the way it is broadcast across platforms. “It is hypocritical to make money of our work, especially when so much of monetization on radio happens because of music, whether it is played in the background or for promotions," IPRS member, lyricist Mayur Puri, said.

Rakesh Nigam, chief executive, IPRS, said the radio industry should be paying lyricists and music composers 10-25 crore per annum. Even event companies do not pay citing the example of radio, which is a bigger and powerful category.

New-age digital firms, such as YouTube and Facebook, and a few audio streaming sites have signed payment contracts with IPRS.

Private FM radio companies, including ENIL and Music Broadcast Ltd, declined to comment on Mint’s queries. According to a legal spokesperson for Fever and Radio Nasha, it filed a reply in IPAB referring to provisions of the Copyright Act that “The rights in a sound recording …can be enjoyed by the owner... without any interference from the owners of the underlying works viz. the literary works and the musical works" referring to music composers and lyricists.

Once the sound recording is legally created, the owner of the work loses the rights of communicating it to the public and can’t demand any share in the royalty, according to the provisions, he said. “IPRS in its suggestions, in essence, claimed a right in the sound recording for receiving royalties when sound recording is being exploited. This claim is contrary to the provisions of the Copyright Act and such a claim is in fact barred by the provisions of Section 16 of the Copyright Act," the HT reply said.

HT Media Ltd, the publisher of Mint and Hindustan Times newspapers, owns the Fever 104 FM and Radio Nasha brands.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Updated: 25 Feb 2021, 12:31 AM IST
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