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“No further changes can be made in the Act…”

The Registrar of Copyrights has been the most sought-after man in the echelons of the government ever since the amendments to the Indian Copyright Act were first proposed three years ago. While he has been involved in the amendments from the very beginning, GR Raghavender has however abstained from commenting on the issue in the media. Until now! Excerpts from an in-depth and exclusive interview from our sister publication, Sound Box

The new Act is aimed at benefitting the composers and authors. Do you see that happening though?

IPRS apparently distributed Rs 19 croreto authors and composers last year and if they insist that no right belong to them,why did they distribute these 19 crore? IPRS makes payment to internationalartists and labels for exploitation in India without any conditions but not to Indian artistes. International bodies like PRS,London pay only 50 per cent of royalty to music labels and the rest is paid to creators. Many Indian labels which are not part of IPRS do not pay royalties to authors and composers.

How do you see the Act changing that?

Now with amendments to the Act, non members of the IPRS cannot pocket the performing royalty anymore and have topay composers and authors.

The Act doesn’t touch upon rules for formation of the society as also other provisions. When would copyright rules accompanying the Act be out in the public?

The work has already started and therules regarding the Copyright Act maybe out by December 2012. The workfor preparing the initial draft will start soon and the draft will be shared with all the stakeholders in the industry for their comments. We would also initiate a round table with representatives in theindustry and seek their opinion before finalising the Act. After these rules arefinalised, it would go for notification. The rules will then be published and tabled in both the Houses of Parliament.

A little known copyright society for cinematograph films – Society for Copyright Regulations of Indian Producersof Films and Television (SCRI PT) hasbeen hardly functional. What happensto such societies?

The purpose of a copyright society is collection and distribution of royalty. They have to manage rights and whenever works are exploited, give the benefits to the stakeholders concerned. There is nomeaning for a copyright society if it is not functional. Societies like SCRIPT will haveto apply for re-registration as per the new law if they wish to function. If not, we will go ahead with a new proposal for formation of another society.

The Act will seek comments of different stakeholders … does that mean the Actis open for debate and changes?

The amendments of 2012 are part of themain Indian Copyright Act. Once passed,no further changes can be made in theAct but the rules are open to alterations.

Music labels are not content with many provisions in the Act, specially the one relating to statutory and compulsory license…

The Copyright Board will follow marketpractices for finalising the royalty rates for statutory license on broadcasting tothe users. Labels are wary of compulsorylicenses after the Copyright Board issued the order on August 25, 2010 fixing the music royalty to two per centof net advertising revenues for radio stations. I personally think two per centroyalty fixed for compulsory licence is too less and a minimum of three or four per cent should be considered. This time around, the Copyright Board will be consulting the content users and rights owners before fixing the percentage. The Act doesn’t prescribe the percentage of royalty for statutory licence but the rates will soon be decided by the Board as perthe prescribed procedure to be given inthe rules. With television part of statutory licenses now, obviously the rates will behigher than radio. Additionally, the Delhi and Madras High Court judgments questioning the above order of the Copyright Board are still being challenged and the verdict can be in favour of any parties involved.

How does the statutory licensing provision work?

The content users have to send anadvance copy of statutory license applicationto the Registrar. The contentuser has to pay an advance royalty to therights owner as per the rate fixed by theCopyright Board. The user is then free touse the entire repertoire.

How would the Copyright Board decideon rates for radio and TV broadcasters?

At the moment, the role of Copyright Board has been increased in the post amendments period with statutory licensing provisions for the 31 D broadcasting and 31 C for cover versions. Under 31 D, the Copyright Board will issue notices toIPRS, music companies and other content owners and also to content users liketelevision broadcasters, radio players.Both the parties will file evidences -users have to file their advertising revenues,extent of usage of content anddetails of programmes aired. The rightowners will file their expectations of royaltyand explain the basis of such expectation.Both the parties will then argue their casebefore the Copyright Board.

There is some confusion as to what content/usage the Act is applicable to.Labels and creators have diverse opinions;can you shed some light on this?

The legislative intent is very clear. No law can be retrospective and if a song is performed on radio or television, 50 percent of royalty is payable to composers and authors irrespective of the year the song was made.

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