Intellectual Property Rights is the oxygen for creators, say industry experts

IPRS CEO Rakesh Nigam said that Indian should start paying for music.

MUMBAI: As we move towards a content-based economy, the question of ownership has taken centre-stage. With a wide gamut of content being produced and consumed, establishing and protecting Intellectual Property (IP) rights is essential for content creators and the businesses that host/promote it.

To drive forward the conversation around licensing and paid consumption of music in India, The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. (IPRS) in association with and Iprmentlaw organised a panel discussion hosting eminent members of the Indian music industry. The panel discussion was moderated by founder, CEO & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari and Iprment Law founder Anushree Rauta. 

The panelists unanimously suggested that the royalty and copyright act in India needs serious revision. Industry experts who took part in the discussion claimed that proper implementation of the copyright act in India could benefit music creators financially, as most of their scores are being aired on television channels, OTT, radio, and on other programs without royalty. 

Intellectual Property rights: The oxygen for music creators

During the panel discussion, Wanvari described Intellectual Property rights (IPR) as the oxygen for music content creators. Panel members seemed to agree with Wanvari's view, and asserted that IPR is very much necessary to ensure the stability of the music industry. 

"Intellectual Property forms the base for the industry. The originator should always be awarded and acknowledged for it. It is very vital," said Tunecore India head Heena Kriplani. 

Music director Raju Singh deemed IPR as the shield of protection music creators have. In fact, IPR is the ''core existence of what we create'', he added.

Turnkey Music and Publishing MD Atul Churamani said, "The backbone of the entertainment business is IP. Whatever we are creating, is protected by Intellectual Property rights." 

The royalty dilemma and copyright issues

Issues related to royalty and copyrights are one of the most common challenges faced by composers in the country. Supreme Court advocate Harsh Kaushik revealed that the royalty business in India is confusing. 

"The ongoing debate is if the song recording is being exploited, whether the underlying works need to be compensated separately or not," said Kaushik. 

IPRS CEO Rakesh Nigam said that copyright-related laws in India should be made in such a way that they should help the business. 

"Digital royalties have sprung up during the pandemic, but TV royalties went down. In 2021, we distributed Rs 185 crore royalties," he added remarked. 

Panelists who attended the event concurred that royalty and copyright acts in India need serious amendments. IPRS which has currently 5,000 members including T-series, Sony Music, Saregama, Universal Music Publishing, Times Music, and Aditya Music collects royalties on behalf of them each time their music is played, be it over the radio, live concerts, or music OTTs. 

Even though IPRS is continuing its efforts to ensure royalty amount for music creators, the copyright act which may be still in its nascent stage negatively impacts these efforts. Citing the example of royalty collection in foreign countries, Nigam added that the arrival of more royalties could elevate royalty collections to new heights, and may grow up to Rs 700-800 crore from the lowly Rs 180 odd crore now. 

The revelation from Nigam comes at a time when several radio stations in the country have engaged in legal battles with content creators over the royalty row. 

Churamani, during the panel discussion, suggested that separate tribunals should be set up to handle cases related to copyright issues. 

The rising popularity of regional music

Aditya Music director Aditya Gupta, whose firm holds the music rights of movies like Ala Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Uppena, and Vakeel Saab, revealed that digitalisation has helped his company to stay afloat even during Covid times. He also added that the Indian music industry is witnessing the growing popularity of regional music. Gupta revealed that his company had the. 

"Luckily for us, last year went well because of new digital platforms. The consumption increased on digital. There were a good number of releases in the regional market. Regional music is growing well in India. Earlier, their distribution was the biggest hurdle, but deep penetration of the internet, smartphones have removed that obstacle. The consumption is growing," added Gupta. 

On the other hand, TM Talent Management founder Tarsame Mittal said that the pandemic has hit their business very badly. 

"Majority of our business comes from live events. It became Zero suddenly when the pandemic struck. So we tried and looked for alternatives, and we survived somehow," he shared. 

Indians should pay for music

During the panel discussion, Rakesh Nigam and Tarsame Mittal unanimously suggested that Indians should change the way in which they consume music. The duo claimed that we have the affinity to enjoy whatever is available for free, and added that this trend needs to go to ensure the stability of the industry. 

"In India, most of the music platforms provide free music, be it Spotify, Wynk or Gaana, unlike other countries where these are paid services. We need to create a culture, where people start to pay for the music they listen to. There has to be a cost attached to it," suggested Nigam. 

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