entire controversy around the amendment to the copyright law is
needless. For, the law, as some argue, is not creating for the
first time royalty for music composers and songwriters in India.
That provision already exists; the new bill is just meant to
enforce it. We already have, since 1969, a body called the Indian
Performing Right Society (IPRS), which is entrusted with the task
of collecting royalties for artists. Performance-rights royalty is
something that belongs to performers and writers across the world,
including India. But something went wrong with the Hindi film
Generally, performers and writers share the royalty with the
publisher, whose task is to market the music. In Hindi film music,
till 1993, the publisher’s hat was worn by the film producer. In
1993, music companies entered into an agreement with the film
producers where they decided to share the royalty equally. The
music companies assured the producers that they would give them
the money upfront; in return, the producers should see to it that
when they sign on a lyricist or a composer, the artists should
sign away all their rights to the song in perpetuity.
is great irony in this. These music companies, as part of the IPRS
board, are committed to sharing the royalty with the artists.
Outside the IPRS, in the comfort of their offices and in their
dealings with filmmakers, they force the artists to relinquish
their rights to their creative work. The contradictions and the
two-facedness of the situation are obvious. The music companies
are running with the hare and hunting with the hounds here.
royalty is divided like this: 50 per cent is for sound recording,
which goes to the producer; 25 per cent is for publisher/producer;
12.5 per cent is for composer and 12.5 per cent for songwriter.
What the composer and the songwriter are getting is a small share
of the pie; and the filmmakers are unwilling to let go of even
that. In between, they changed their tune and said, we would give
royalty after we recovered the money. That is a specious argument.
As a producer it is their duty to put money into a song or a film;
they do not recover their money from my royalty. If a film
recovers the money, am I sharing in its profits? No. Royalty for a
songwriter/composer, in fact, has nothing to do with the fortunes
of a film. For instance, the film Deewar was a hit; its songs not
so much. On the other hand, the film Papa Kehte Hain, starring
Jugal Hansraj, flopped, but its song Ghar se nikalte hi became a
hit. Royalty comes from the success of the songs – as they get
played in radio and television and get downloaded as ringtones.
filmmakers also argue that they cannot pay a newcomer as much as
they do a veteran composer/songwriter. But royalty is not an
amount they pay; it is a percentage they share. And there you
don’t make a distinction between a newcomer and a veteran. Also,
what the producers conveniently forget to reveal is that when a
song becomes popular, their 75 per cent royalty swells
West, songs are typically not part of films; they come as albums.
The producers’ revenue comes from the songs being played,
performed and downloaded. Here the songs are part of films. The
producers have an additional source of income, from the films,
apart from the other usages of song. Even then, they are cribbing
when asked to share the royalty.
filmmakers have another argument. The deal between them and the
performers, they contend, are a personal one. Why drag the
government into it? Why should the government interfere in that?
But government always interferes when two individuals who enter
into an agreement are not equally empowered. The government always
interferes when there is injustice in the system. That is the
reason government creates laws against dowry and child labour.
the whole conversation only has academic interest. In an unusual
move, the Standing Committee of Parliament has passed the
Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 unanimously. There was not one
note of dissension. Parliament is in one voice on the issue. It is
just a matter of time now. Parliament will resume function,
hopefully, in the next session and pass the bill.
writer is a scriptwriter and songwriter) Interview given to Charmy