Lok Sabha on May 22 passed the Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012, empowering song writers, artists and performers to claim royalty for their creations.
The Bill – that was passed by Rajya Sabha on May 17 – declares authors as owners of the copyright, which cannot be assigned to the producers as was the practice till now.
The Bill makes it mandatory for radio as well as broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time a work of art is broadcast. It also bans people from bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.
The Bill received overwhelming support at the Lower House, including from the Opposition, which appreciated the government for taking such a step, though belatedly.
Meanwhile, the radio industry has also welcomed the passing of the Bill by both Houses of Parliament.
Rabe T Iyer, Business Head, Big FM, called the development a positive, constructive and beneficial step in truly recognising the real owners of music and not just the labels who pitched and bought them. “Fair distribution of rights leads to increasing talent pool, greater accountability of quality and continued effort to innovate. This move will give radio stations greater flexibility to play music recomposed or readjusted by creators of songs and will lead to generation of more music and more musicians as they get their due,” he added.
Prashant Panday, ED and CEO, Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL) too called the move good news for everybody. “It is a very good law for artists as they are the real innovators,” he said.
“For us it means that our logistical nightmare has been lifted. Now we can play songs as soon as they release and pay the artists themselves,” he further said.
Shelling out royalty would not add to the cost for radio channels as they had already been paying the song owners a two per cent royalty.
Along similar lines, Harrish M Bhatia, CEO, My FM also called the development “very good news for the industry”. According to him, this move would impact the radio industry in two ways – First, radio companies are saved from the logistics cost and they no longer have to run to all the music companies to take their permission for playing songs and secondly, it has become fair play. Now there is only one body, that is, the Copyright Board that they have to connect with and no one can exploit the market, all the players will be equal.
On whether it would lead to a hike in cost for radio players, he said that since the royalty percentage was yet to be decided, it was difficult to say whether it would lead to an escalation in cost.
With inputs from Shanta Saikia