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India gives copyright to talent
By Patrick Frater
Wed, 13 June 2012, 07:15 AM (HKT)
India's newly amended Copyright Act has now passed into law. It creates a system where artists are given copyright ownership and should earn royalties. That replaces a flat-fee and work for hire system.
The changes to the 1957 law were chiefly intended to benefit musicians and deem authors or song creators as the copyright owners. Copyright can no longer be assigned to record labels or film producers, and the new amendments make it mandatory for TV and radio broadcasters to pay owners for each usage.
Given that music plays such a large part in the promotion, success and financial returns of Indian films, the move has potentially wide reaching effect for the film industry.
The new law, which was passed by both houses of parliament and has now been gazetted, also names film directors and dialogue writers as copyright holders – thus liable to also earn royalty payments.
Cover versions of music, dramatic or literary work are also banned for a period of five years from first publication.
Many film producers had opposed the amendments fearing that they would create an unmanageable system of residual rights with large numbers of authors claiming payments for each song or film. Some executives have suggested that the new system will actually damage the interest of the creative types and that producers will in future make greater use of ghost writers whose names do not appear on the credits.
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation, says such worries are unfounded. "The amendments will benefit every creative person in India... who has hitherto been deprived of his/her due so far. With this bill, the creators' rights are upheld and respected and the amendments are a positive step in the right direction," it said in a statement.
A spokesman for Sony Music in India welcomed the amendments and said that both sides will now have to sit down and work out how to make it work in practice. He regretted that the changes did nothing to address the issues of piracy, which he said are damaging legitimate businesses.
The campaign to change the law was led by lyricist Javed Akhtar, with prominent support from the late Robin Gibb.