Illayaraja's legal notice to Balasubramanyam for using his compositions
Music legend Illayaraja sent a legal notice to playback singer Balasubramanyam for singing the former's compositions without prior permission at many concerts. Balasubramanyam, is on a world tour, and said that he would now render songs of various other music composers. Balasubramanyam, in a Facebook post, asked the media not to "make I.Raja-SPB issue sensational." We explore the copyright issues in Indian music industry.
What the Indian Copyright Act says?
Section 38 of the Copyright Act, 1957, (2012 amendment) identifies "Performer's Rights" of the singer of a song commercially recorded about 50 years before the 'conflicted' performance takes place. The song or "a substantial part thereof" of it "cannot be recorded, reproduced, broadcast or communicated" without the performer's approval. If the song is commercially utilized the singer has to be given royalties.
Are restaurants not under the purview of copyright? Absolutely are!
For a restaurant to use music for commercial purposes, royalty needs to be paid. A No-Objection Certificate procured pay the price of "the least priced drink on the menu card" per day to every singer whose music is being played.
Playing the Royalty game
According to the Supreme Court, the creators of a song hold the rights to it. It considers music directors and lyricists -and not singers -as the creators. The performance needs the nod of Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS). After taking its administrative cut, the royalty is split amongst the "rights holder, music director and lyricist in the ration 5:3:2."
Lata Mangeshkar-Rafi fall out over royalties
Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi fell out after the latter refused to share royalties claiming: "When the producer pays the fee the singer demands a song, thereafter the singer should not have a share in the royalty.'' The two didn't sing together for 3 years.
Bollywood's fight for royalties wages on
In recent years, various Bollywood producers, singers and lyricists have fallen out over the issue of royalties. Mahesh Bhatt who said that composers and lyricists didn't share losses, hence didn't deserve profits which enraged Javed Akhtar. Similarly, Sonu Nigam fell out with Vidhu Vinod Chopra over this issue and Javed Akhtar with Aamir Khan. Music composer duo Salim-Sulaiman too lost various projects over royalties.