Musicians versus Radio Channels
Mixed reactions to High Court verdict that artists won't get separate royalty
Private radio channels in India are breathing free after the Bombay High Court ruled that they don't have to pay separate royalty to composers and lyricists for broadcasting their songs. The musicians, of course, are unhappy about the decision.
The High Court ruled that the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) that safeguards the copyright of music composers and lyricists is not entitled to claim or demand royalty or licence fees from a FM channel for the recorded songs and music it plays on its stations.
FM stations including Radio Mirchi, Radio City, Big FM, Red FM and many others are happy with the judgement.
"It is indeed a landmark judgement for the entire radio industry and we are pleased that all our efforts and hard work has paid dividends for not only Radio City but the industry. We will continue to partner the music, the film industry and the artiste community by promoting and popularising all genres of music," Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City 91.1 FM said.
Now the FM stations will have to only deal with Phonographic Performances Limited (PPL), a body of film producers that owns the copyright to literary, music and sound recording rights, for obtaining a licence to play music.
Music Broadcast Private Limited (MBPL) that runs 26 radio stations in the country had moved the High Court in 2006 stating it has been paying royalty to the IPRS and now wants to stop doing that because they are already paying a licence fee to PPL.
"The judgement vindicates our position on the actual ownership of the music we play, vis-a-vis the music labels/producers have bought the rights to all sound recordings. Thus we have been paying royalty to PPL and other individual music companies for the sound recordings we play," said Purohit.
Soumen G. Choudhury, Business Head, 92.7 Big FM, said: "This is very good news for FM channels and we welcome it. However, we need to read the judgment in detail to comment further," he said.
However, the judgement hasn't gone down to well with the composers and lyricists and they are planning to appeal to the higher court.
"We will definitely challenge this verdict because it denies our rights. This verdict is not right and I know its momentary. When the actual royalty bill is passed, this ruling will become irrelevant," veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar said.
"Also, the verdict will be embarrassing for India in the international market because international artists will obviously demand the royalties when their songs are played. I don't think this verdict will last very long," he added.
Akhtar has been fighting for the rights of the music composer since a long time. He has also taken up the issue of equal royalties to composers, lyricists and music companies, under the Copyright Act.
Composer Anu Malik was disappointed with the verdict.
"IPRS will definitely appeal in the higher court. I personally feel that if you do not give royalties to the composers and the lyricists, it will be a dampener because there won't be any motivation left for anyone to compose.
"A man works to get paid for it. It is the power of creation that makes the song a big hit, it's not only the money that's put in it. When you create a song and then you are paid peanuts for it and then someone says that even the song doesn't belong to you, it becomes a big dampener," said Malik.
"I cannot go against the High Court judgement but somewhere the hard work of the composers and the lyricists is being ignored. A singer can earn money from shows, but composers and lyricist don't have that option. Or let the producers pay them so much money they don't ask for royalties," he added.