| 15 Apr 2024
Mixed year in terms of performance and law: IPRS Rakesh Nigam

Indian Performing Right Society chief executive officer Rakesh Nigam:

2012 for IPRS and Indian Music Industry:

Year 2011-12 had been positive for live gigs and this is an area likely to grow further in years to come. So far so good for IPRS, that in terms of Copyright law it has settled and clarified major copyright issues.

IPRS is a society which has owner music companies / film producers, authors and composers as members of the society. IPRS is the only National Copyright Society in the country which is permitted to commence and carry on the Copyright Business in Musical Works and any Words or any Action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music.

Meanwhile, this year was rocking in terms of live and international acts, we have licensed probably all the acts.  The live sector in India needs to grow, unfortunately, people until now had different views but now people really understand the need to pay for such events. The trend in India was 'We don't buy tickets to see events' nevertheless  I love the new trend where people feel the need to buy tickets to see the live gigs and that their understanding the fact that if we need to see such live performances it need not be free. At least, the thing is growing in people's mind. Compared to last year this year the number of events has gone up but still the people need to understand that they need to pay.

Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012:

This year we have actually seen lot of dramatic changes, in the sense, where authors and composers who were fighting for rights; asking for right to royalty. And asking for equal royalty share rights between authors /composers and owners - earlier this was in way of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and now it was by way of the law. Javed ji (Javed Akhtar) was spearheading the campaign to get rights, now it has got in by way of law. It's a kind of significant change for authors and composers to receive royalty by right.  It's for all utilization which will have far reaching consequence in terms of the way music and film business was being conducted.

Utilization is actually very wide term it includes mechanical reproduction,physical reproduction, digital reproduction, digital sell, digital download, streaming, renting and so on.  Now, the rights have been increased for authors / composers and owners, earlier, it was for music (i.e. sound recording) now it also covers films.  If a film is being shown you need to pay the royalty to the author / composer and owner except in the cinema hall. Film that is shown on television, internet, rental films, physical sold and all of those you need to pay royalties for reproduction performing or utilization. The ambit of the rights management and licensing by the society have been widen tremendously.

Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Parliament and was notified effective from 21st June 2012.
We as society and its members only get our rights from this copyright law. The 1977 Supreme Court judgment which stated that in the absence of the contract the film producer is the first owner of the rights; unless there is a contract to the contrary, and that the author /composer had to have a contract in which he held back the rights, else the rights were with the film producer and was treated as the first owner. This has been significantly changed by this new provison in section 17 to say that the author /composer will be the first owner of the work included in a cinematograph; and the producer will have to have a contract of assignment from the author and composer.

The authors/ composers can assign their rights of ownership to the Film Producers or Music Company but cannot assign or waive the right to royalty and any contract or agreement providing such waiver to royalty will be void.

The government has said that the licensing of literary and musical works can only be done by a registered copyright society. In terms of literary music work, only a registered copyright society viz. IPRS can only issue licenses, owner can't issue the license for musical and literary works. We have started talking to too many owners members who are not IPRS members to become members of the society and strengthen the collection of rights so that we increase valuations for the owners. We are adding up on an average 300 new authors and composers per annum, IPRS has crossed a membership of 3,100.

Issues with the Amendments to law:

By bringing in Statutory Licensing (section 31D) for usage of musical / literary works and sound recording by Radio and TV Operators were-in Compulsory License (Section 31) exists seriously undermines the ability of the owners and authors to have practical valuation of music.

The current view of the Registrar of Copyrights and Government is that if the owner is not the member of the society, the society issues license for author /composer right to royalty share ie 50 per cent, this is bound to create conflicts as provisions on licensing by owners remains. But with this being addressed this has the potential to increase revenue tremendously for the society and owners / authors.

The other interpretational area which is prospective exploitation of past works and its sharing and owners and authors have completely opposite interpretations.

Challenges for IPRS:

We are getting into new areas of licensing - television. We have started the new licensing like the international content, we have started in a small way but it will have a significant impact in a long term.  Television is not used to pay performing royalties for cinematographic film or background music in their own serials.  First, they were paying for music that was not owned by them. Then reality based music and dance shows were paying for licensing and so on, but now you have to pay for background music as well.

It's a challenge to get them to understand and pay for such utilisation. It is a fact, we will face friction in times to come over royalty rates and payment, but over a period of time it will get ironed out.

We are making people aware that the law has not created any new rights, the new copyright amendment shows the intention of the legislation that authors and composers would get equal share of royalty when a sound recording or cinematograph film is broadcast, performed or utilized in any form. If the legislation  would have touched the rights portion the law would have had a prospective effect, but it provides for sharing of royalties when works are utilized by way of its sound recording or cinematograph film that means the right to separate license and royalty existed even in the past.

Revenue growth:

In terms of growth and implementation, it can't happen overnight. But, I see a significant growth. Last year, we were round 40 crores but with all these new changes for next four-five years plus we should become the 300-400 crores society.  That is ten times growth.


I believe that there should be participation from all stake holders. If everyone unites then you can take much better valuation from the users. Today, what's happening is that people are fighting for a large share of small pie but if people bridge the gap between the stakeholders this has potential to increase the valuation and increase the size of the pie dramatically for the stakeholders. Consumption of music has increased in past few years but fair valuation has not come down it's just that they are paying lower amount but if we get united we can increase the valuation for everyone.