Essence of visual radio, IPR discussed at Broadcast India seminar

MUMBAI: The last two sessions of the opening day of the Broadcast India 2004 (Technical) symposium saw different but very important topics being covered..



Finnish company Jutel RadioMan's Timo Ruohomaki spoke about the concept of visual radio. This is an application that is expected to grow quickly on mobile phones especially in Europe. "Visual radio will replace FM tuners on mobile handsets. Nokia and HP are leading the way here. Nokia has tied up with radio stations worldwide for content. Nokia had chosen HP to partner it on the visual radio project.

"Nokia had announced the Visual Radio concept last year. Their next version of product which will be released in December will see the visual radio application. A survey conducted by Nokia found that 77 per cent of customers listen to radio at least once a week.".


Visual radio allows for visual and text messages to be displayed in synchronicity with the broadcast. For instance you can have maps displayed with a weather forecast. It allows for a lot of interactivity. Listeners can send text messages back to the station giving feedback on a show. The station can also sell ringtones of songs on its playlist. .

The technical setup involves a central radio server which is connected to the radio stations. Web development technology is used. Stations can find out how many people are tuning in at a particular point in time. Ruohomaki's company is making a production system.

The server reads the playlist and accordingly create content. For instance if songs of Dr. Alban are playing then a contest can be run. All listeners have to do is press buttons. In this way market research can also be done to find out if a particular show's format needs tweaking. In addition the central server is capable of handling huge volumes of data. A case in point is the reality show Big Brother. The normal phone lines got jammed when the elimination time came.

"That will not happen with the server. Another huge advantage for radio stations is in the advertising arena. Listeners can also choose whether they want to find out more about a product being advertised. They can press a button if they want to be on a company's mailing list for ordering and received further information on products. "

Meanwhile Life Circle Productions' Ravi Khote talked about the importance of content creators understanding their intellectual Property Rights (IPR). He stated that performance and recording artistes are losing money because they are unaware of the fact that they are entitled to royalties everytime a piece of music that they helped create is used.

"People do not know the difference between being paid one time and a complete buyout. If it is not a complete buyout then everytime a language version of a master product like a song is made you should be paid. Every airplay has to be paid for. Abroad music artistes make more money from royalties that from the one time they were paid to record the material."

Khote added that he is forming an organisation Amfa which will help performing and recording artistes get royalties everytime the material is used. The first target is ad agencies which use music tunes. "Once the work is seen as being sacrosanct in media things will move fast. When an agency pays a sum of say Rs. 1 million for a film tune they are only paying the producer. There are still the rights of the music composer, the singer that have not been taken into consideration.

"However it is important that you assert that you have played a part in creating the content. The copyright owner does not have to prove that an offender was unaware of the rights. It is the job of the user to find out who owns the copyright. When a film producer uses a performance for remix videos then the performance artiste has to be paid royalty.

"Unfortunately performance artistes in our country are getting squeezed because they are unaware of their rights. In the film industry some of the contracts that are signed are unconstitutional. Artistes signing contracts are being forced into conditions that they do not they have recourse from."

On a positive note Khote added that in the past few months there had been cases of people asserting themselves. For instance a patriotic song had become embroiled in a royalty dispute. 40 years ago the composer had signed a contract with Saregama saying that a portion of proceeds from the recording would go towards the Indian Army.

The artistes grand daughter in August filed a case in the Mumbai High Court stating that Saregama had not fulfilled its side of the deal. The court then gave the music company one month to furnish details of revenues earned from the song and how much had gone to the Indian Army.

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