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How Copyright Protection Is Applicable To The Indian Music Industry?

How is Copyright Protection Applicable to the Indian Music Industry?

However, are you aware that before playing the famous songs publicly, you need to have all the permissions in place from the makers of such songs? If you fail to do so, you shall end up finding yourself in big trouble like Copyright Infringement. Here in this article, we shall be thoroughly discussing Copyright Protection in the Indian music industry. We shall answer a few questions, including:
  • How can you save yourself from receiving a copyright claim?
  • Are there provisions in the Indian Copyright Act allowing remixing an old song to a new song?

The term 'copyright' combines two words, copy and right; therefore, we can also say that copyright refers to the legitimate and exclusive rights of the individual or entity owning the creative Intellectual Property (IP) assets.

Ian Richard Hargreaves CBE, Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University, Wales, the United Kingdom, has stated that the copyright system can't be considered appropriate for the present digital age as millions of individuals infringe upon the creative works of others on an everyday basis by simply switching video or audio files from one device to another.

Copyright protection in the music industry gives the producers exclusive legal ownership of creative musical works and recordings. It also includes the exclusive right to distribute, reproduce, and license the copyrighted work to obtain royalties. Kindly note that when lyrics and music are recorded, written on paper, or otherwise placed in a document, the copyright in the creative work is automatically created.

The United States Copyright Office has mentioned that once a sound is captured, implying that it must be recorded on a medium that could be sensed, copied, or otherwise transmitted, the master recording is copyright protected in digital tracks, tapes, optical disks, or any other format. However, it is highly advisable to go ahead with copyright registration of your song or musical work. To do the same, you need to ensure that it is tangible, fill out the required copyright application form at the copyright office, and pay the prescribed fee.

Musical Works under the Indian Copyright Act of 1957

Under Section 2(P) of the Indian Copyright Act of 1957 (referred to as Act further in this article), a musical work is defined and is said to include works composed of music containing graphic symbols. An original song is formalized, decorated, modified, and transferred to the original work's category. You can use sounds to create new musical works by mixing, adding, and deleting some specific aspects of the original song. In India, Bollywood movie songs are loved by everyone.

We have listened to the legendary 90s Dheere Dheere Se Meri Zindagi Mein Aana, featuring Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal, and its remake by Yo Yo Honey Singh. The question that now arises is whether it is legitimate to exploit an artist's original creative work in this way? In this scenario, the new music or remix is created using audio mixing and adding and subtracting some aspects of the original song.

As per Section 52(1)(j) of the Act, certain uses and modifications of creative works, including sound recordings and music, require obtaining the owner's consent. It talks about obtaining a legal license to use a copyrighted work in a specific way, provided that the individual or entity (i.e., the licensee) pays the required fee and complies well with the law.

In the case of Gramophone Co v. Super Cassettes, the court held that obtaining the permission of the original owner to use a piece of his creative musical work is necessary. However, in Gramophone Co v. Mars, the court had the opposite opinion. It held that as long as the requirements of Section 52(1)(j) are followed, there might be no instance of copyright infringement and no necessity to obtain the owner's consent (consent requirement is only for the first recording).

The whole world of music copyright law is undoubtedly complicated; however, it is not that tough to safeguard a piece of musical work and obtain royalties for it. You only need to register your copyright, join the necessary debt collection agency, and pick a distributor. Don't forget that registering your copyright shall protect your creative work and prevent theft, misuse, and infringement.

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