Last week, the High Court had stated that the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) that safeguards the copyright of music composers and lyricists, is not entitled to demand royalty or licence fees from FM radio channels for the music they broadcast. Naturally, this judgment has faced severe backlash from lyricists and composers.
At press conference held recently to criticise this verdict, veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar said, “The Mumbai High Court ruling is absolutely incompatible with the Copyright Law of India. It is also in gross violation of India’s obligations under international treaties like the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) and the Berne Convention. Should we tell international artistes like Bryan Adams that when your music is played in India we wouldn’t pay you your performing royalties?”
The ruling effectively means that radio stations will now have to only deal with Phonographic Performances Limited (PPL) for obtaining a licence to play the music. “The radio fraternity told us that they would love to pay composers and lyricists royalty — and not the PPL. But the stand taken by them in the court is exactly the opposite. This is stabbing us in the back,” Akhtar said.
Ram Sampath, composer and singer of Bhaag DK Bose… from Delhi Belly said, “Even corporate India acknowledges intellectual property rights. When I make jingles for advertisements, I feel my work is valued. This ruling spells the end of creativity for Indian music as more people choose to buy music digitally.”
Composer and director Vishal Bharadwaj added, “I couldn’t feed myself as a composer. That’s why I had to turn into a producer.”