Copyright Societies in India

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Written by: Adv. Megha Dixit

IPRS was incorporated in the year 1969 and got registered as a copyright society on November 28, 2017. IPRS is a copyright society in India that legitimizes the use of the copyrighted music by music users by issuing and collecting royalties from them, for and on behalf of IPRS members i.e, the authors, composers, and Publishers of music. The royalty that is collected is distributed among the members after deducting the administrative cost of IPRS. Composers are known as music directors, authors are known as lyricists, Publishers of music are known as music companies for those holding publishing rights of the musical and literary works. Authors and composers are sometimes referred to as writers also which may mean any one or both of them.

Administration of IPRS

The company’s policy and administration are controlled by Governing Council of Directors that are elected by the members at General Meeting that take place every year from amongst their own members which consist of authors, composers and Publishers.  The council is equally represented by publishers and writers and also there is an equal representation between composers and authors in all regions. The chairman of the Governing Council of IPRS is Mr Javed Akhtar who is an author member.

The registered and corporate office of the company is at Mumbai and it has its branch offices at Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata through which the society carries on its business and licensing activities.

Code of conduct

IPRS follows the code of conduct laid down in the Code of Corporate Governance and Ethics. There is a Corporate Governance and Ethics Committee that has been set up to address all matters related to governance, compliance, ethics and code of conduct.  The purpose of this code is to continue to safeguard the reputation of IPRS by laying down guidelines to maintain proper professional conduct, confidentiality and to avoid conflict of interest.

This code applies to the Employees of the IPRS and on anyone who is authorized to represent the company. It is the responsibility of the individuals mentioned above to perform their duties in compliance with the guidelines set in the code. This code lays down ethical several guidelines for its employees.  In order to uphold personal integrity and to avoid conflict of interest, an employee must notify and request prior approval from the director(s) if he or she or any of the relatives of the employee wishes to become a member of IPRS in the capacity of an author, composer, music publisher of any work created, authored or published by him or her or any of the relatives.

In both “Indian performing right society V. Eastern India Motion Pictures Association” and “Eastern India Motion Pictures Association V. Performing Rights Society Ltd” cases, the SC and the Calcutta HC respectively, held that “Copyright Board has jurisdiction on matters relating to licensing by the copyright society”. 

Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA)

ISRA got incorporated as a company limited by guarantee under the companies Act, 1956 on May 3, 2013. After which it filed for its registration as a copyright society under Sec. 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 and received the Certificate of Registration on June 14, 2013 by the Central Government. ISRA was the first copyright society to get itself registered by the Central Government after the Amendment of 2012 to the Copyright Act. ISRA is the sole copyright society that administers the rights of singers as a category of performers.

Each singer is a performer and/ or the owner of the performers’ right in a song unless the performers’ rights have been assigned.  Any singer apart from the performers’ right also has the inalienable right to receive Royalty for the Performance as given under Sec. 38A of the Copyright Act, 1957. This right of receiving royalty can only be assigned to a legal heir of the performer or collecting society for collection and distribution. Any assignment that is made to the contrary shall be void.  ISRA collects the royalty on behalf of its singer members and issues a Collection Clearance Certificate to the users who want to commercially exploit or utilize the performances of ISRA singer members.

There are currently 534 members at ISRA. In order to create more efficient operations, ISRA has created five state chapters during the year 2018-19: The Tamil Nadu Chapter, The Karnataka Chapter, The Andhara Pradesh & Telangana Chapter, The Kerela Chapter, The Gujarat Chapter.

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)

PPL was founded in 1941 and has been registered under the provisions of the Companies Act 1913. It is; also known as PPL India. It is a performance rights organization that licenses its members’ sound recordings for communication to public in the areas of public performance and broadcast. PPL controls and owns the public performance rights of over 356 music labels with more than 3 million International and Domestic sound recordings. PPL India represents a massive share of the total sound recordings in International and Domestic music. It represents some of the largest Indian and world’s music labels which includes Sony Music Entertainment, T-Series, Speed Records, Universal Music, Warner Music etc. It is India’s largest and most respected public performance rights organization in terms of both revenue and membership.

 By having a PPL license, one can have exclusive access to the entirety of their collection spanning a plethora of genres including Bollywood, EDM, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Classical, Jazz, Country, Dance and others of thousands of iconic artists from across the globe. PPL enforces the rights of their members by showing that the businesses comply with the law and pay copyright holders for the music consumed by them. It is a non-profit organization and the royalties that are collected are given to the rightful owners of the music. 

In the case of “TV Today Network Ltd V. Phonographic Performance Ltd”, an issue arose related to whether radio stations are bound to pay a royalty to PPL the Calcutta HC by deciding this landmark case stated that the rate of royalty payable by the Radio stations would depend upon the revenue earning through advertisements. However, the case further went into an appeal in front of SC by the appellant and the learned Judge observed that “it is an order in rem and not in person”

PPL provides a range of valuable services both to its member music labels and for the users. It makes it easier for the users to use sound recordings legally and streamline the process of collecting remuneration and license fees for the use there of.

PPL is also a member of International Federation of Photographic Industries (IFPI) which represents the recording industry worldwide. 

Code of conduct

 PPL with assistance and guidance of IFPI has developed a code of conduct and regulation guidelines. The PPL code provides information about their standard of integrity and explains legal and ethical responsibilities. This code of conduct is applicable upon PPL, its employees and others acting on behalf of PPL. 

PPL allows its member music labels to determine the scope and character of the rights they give do it without restrictions as provided under the law and article of association of PPL. It also allows the member music labels to terminate the management of their rights fully or partly after giving a reasonable notice period as provided in the terms of agreement entered and subject to the PPL regulations.  PPL keeps a record of the member music labels and present it in electronic format within the compliance of the applicable laws on data protection and privacy. PPL has the right to enforce copyright and protect the same on behalf of their member music labels that includes, but is not limited to granting of licenses for public performance and Terrestrial radio broadcasting of such sound recordings, collecting royalties and initiating legal proceedings against infringement thereof.

In the landmark judgment of “M/S Phonographic Performance Ltd. V. M/S Hotel Gold Regency & Others”, Delhi HC decided that the main function of a copyright society is to administer the right to issue licenses and collection and distribution of royalties among the owners. The court held that in case there arises any dispute related to the violation of licenses issued by the copyright society than in that case the copyright society would have the right to sue. It also held that in the capacity of copyright societies as licensees usually institute copyright infringement suits in their names on behalf of all their members who are the actual copyright owners.  But this judgment, however, put an end to this practice by stating that incase copyright owner provides an exclusive right to the society, the society cannot institute a suit of copyright infringement against the owners.

Zero-tolerance policy is maintained regarding all forms of discrimination, harassment or abuse by the PPL. 

The distribution rules and practices applied by people is based upon the principle of individual distribution according to actual use of the sound recordings and they do not directly or indirectly discriminate between member music labels on the grounds of religion, ownership, generally or otherwise without objectively justifiable reasons, or otherwise as provided in the Annual General Body Meeting resolutions.

The distribution of royalty is done in accordance with the decision made by the members in the Annual General Body meetings. 

Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO)

In the field of publishing, reprography is the most common form of reproduction. Because of which, remuneration for reprography from Reproduction Rights Organizations (RRO) constitute an important revenue stream for authors and publishers in many countries. RROs exist in more than 50 countries around the globe, linked by an umbrella organization which is International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organization (IFRRO). In India, the copyright society registered for reprographic works is the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO).

IRRO is a copyright society established in the year 2000 under section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. This copyright society represents the rights of authors and publishers of literary works having global affiliations with international organizations like IFRRO. IRRO was registered by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. It is exclusively permitted for commencement and carrying on the business of copyright of “reprographic rights in the field of literary works” in India. It is the only licensing authority to issue licenses to users of copyright works of its members, collect royalties on behalf of the owners of rights and distribute them. The main objective of IRRO is-

  • to ensure the protection of copyrights of authors, visual artists and publishers.
  • to build reprographic rights organization network that supports the economic and moral rights of creators and publishers.

The IRRO represents the rights of owners of literary works and provides licenses to the users on behalf of its creators to use the content. The functions of IRRO  are:

  • To accept the mandate from an owner of rights for exclusive authorization for administration of any right in any work by the issue of licenses and collecting license fees.
  •  To issue blanket licenses to organizations. The licenses are issued on an annual basis, subject to the annual fee which covers copying throughout the year by eliminating the need to seek permission every time one needs to copy. These licenses include indemnity from the society from all the copying work done within the terms and conditions of the license.
  • To collect data from various surveys conducted or other data collecting techniques and then to prepare a distribution scheme based on the data collected.
  • To enter into a bilateral agreement with any foreign copyright society, and to collect license fees and distribute them to Indian owners of rights as per the distribution scheme.

Benefits of reprographic license to students, institutions and photocopiers are:

  • It allows copying the content from Indian and global publications
  • It reduces the risk of copyright infringement and potential costs involved in it.
  •  It eliminates the need to seek the permission of copyright owners individually.

Limitations of IRRO License are:

  • The license holder must own an original and copyright fee-paid of any licensed material copied or scanned under the terms and conditions of the license.
  • The license holder can make copies for the number of students on a course of study as a course pack only and should not copy more than 15% or 1 chapter of any publication per year.
  • The License does not authorize the copying, selling, publishing, communicating or distributing digital copies other than that provided in the terms and conditions.
  • Digital copies should not be made available on the publically accessible web portals, nor should be linked to any third party website directly or indirectly by hypertext links or similar.
  • The licensed copies should not be used for education and training of any third parties and should only be used by the authorized persons, provided that the licensee does not receive any type of remuneration.
  • Licensee should not edit or manipulate digital copies nor should it authorize such type of acts.
  • Wherever any work including artistic work is appearing within the digital material or material licensed for the purpose of scanning has the identity of the author or creator, no digital copies should be made unless the copies incorporate their identity too.

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