The 101 on copyrights and related legal concerns in music industry

All About Music, an un-conferencing experience hosted by TM Talent Management on September 18-19, 2017 was a starting point to discussing many unaddressed issues and one such conversation was on “All About Copyright & Legal”. The panel consisted of top industry representatives including, Vishal Dadlani, Achille Forler, Advisor, IPRS, Atul Churamani Founder & MD, Turnkey Music & Publishing, Neeta Ragoowansi Co-founder/ SVP, Legal and BD, NPREX and moderated by Priyanka Khimani from Anand & Anand & Khimani.


In today’s time, the rising population has given birth to thousands of artists, creators, composers at a global level. Artists, composers, and musicians all over the country claim of being deprived of the royalties that belong to them. The ownership of the work they have created and of being exploited by the system that was initially created for their well-being. For an artist just starting a journey in the industry, it’s difficult to keep up with the evolving world of business and publishing. This session addressed important points that educated the listeners as much as the panelists.

Copyright is the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.

How does an author/composer/creator educate himself about the rights he has within the system?

Priyanka Khimani directed a question to Vishal Dadlani during the discussion, What do you think is one of the biggest challenges that a composer faces today in the Indian situation not just when it comes to the law but also when it comes to doing the commercial contracts? What do you think in a scenario like this is creating an impediment in the life of an author today?

Vishal replied, There have been contracts signed in the music industry business where the composer has been made to testify this, the composer has been made to give up his rights in the media that are listed and yet to be listed, media that are invented and yet to be invented in the territories listed in the agreement as well as the entire planet and all territories known and unknown across the “universe”. While the audiences responded in laughter, it is the truth.

In 2012, the copyright act changed drastically. It gave us an in-alienable ownership in the artists own work which is a wonderful thing to read on paper.

What is this royalty, where is this coming out of?

Atul Churamani said, “the horrific truth is that the people that made these artists’s and composer’s sign this contract barely knew anything about copy writing or legal rights. Categorising everything under standard clause, where when questioned artists are told that its a “Standard” without being aware of what standard is. It’s just a method of trying our luck with the artists so that we can get away with a part of their royalties, we make it a standard clause so that people don’t argue.

The royalties come from the sound recordings, they come in the usage of the recording, the mechanical royalty goes to the composers. The performing arts society pays off to the composers.

Neeta Ragoowanti said, In the states, it is very common to come up with a co-publishing agreement. Looking at the economic scale of today, is it possible for an Indian publishing company to enter into co-publishing? Churamani said in response, that it is possible, but only for non-film music.

The Copyright Amendment 2012 - Right to receive royalty

Archille Forler, Advisor IPRS, explained that the amendment introduced a solution that has been added to the Indian market because of the way it was being dealt with though all these years.

Copyright is the most historical change in Law and is as important as the discovery of the relativity in physics. The royalties must be divided equally to every person involved with the creation of the content (or copy). A copy cannot have several masters, because a thing can only have one master. The author is the only one in the universe that has the entitlement of the right to his copy or creation. The author himself entitles himself the ownership of the content because he created it.

The 3 ways of looking at a copy is:

Royalties: Acknowledgement and distribution of them

Copy: the work of the author

Content: ability to understand and interpret by anybody that has access to the copy.

Expressing the copy: The way the author has expressed the copy

Educate yourself

It is essential to educate yourself about the rights, understand what you sign and how the system works. IPRS is the right place to address issues with this matter and they will help you understand and overcome your challenge. It is very important to understand what you are earning. Registering yourself and having an IPRS or PPL License is important. Make sure you are keeping track of all the unlogged Income. Be sure you sign set lists regularly so that it is easy to keep track of your work.

Where can one collect the Royalties from?

It has to be collected from the Collection society after you have registered with them.

How does one claim the royalties entitled to them?

One of the largest chunks of economy come from live shows and events which is why is it important for every author to register himself so that they can earn the royalties they deserve.

1. Register yourself

2. Make a setlist and regularly update it.

3. make a setlist for each event.

4. Submit it and claim your royalties.

There soon will be a system in place to evaluate each work that an artist has done or can be accounted for. Introduction of newer technology to help beat this faction. IPRS is in place to help with the collection of the royalties. It is the role of the collection society to collect the royalties that the author deserves and make sure he gets the ownership of them. It is collecting money under the Article 30.

What will solve the issue Of Royalties?

There is a need for systems to be created. Musicians need to be educated about their rights.

Consumers need to be educated about the rights when it comes to consumption of content.

Register your work with IPRS on the dashboard, register your work and keep a track of it. Make a setlist and regularly update it. Make a set list for each event. Submit it and claim your royalties.

The creator as well as the performer, has the authority to claim their rights. Thus, register and claim what you deserve.

What happens when a major record label is not a part of IPRS?

The society is the only place that holds the right to collect money through the collective license thus, the artist cannot collect the money they deserve.

Every work created must not go unaccounted for. Countries like the United States of America have online portals helping musicians who got deprived through the years and fight for what is rightly

theirs. In India, since we’re still struggling with the issues, IPRS will soon be registered within the government and will be able to function to it’s efficient potential. We as an artist need to belong to the system so that we can claim what belongs to us. Do we let it exploit us and destroy us? No.

Educating ourselves about what is happening within the Industry at an International platform will not only help us demolish this problem but, also make the whole process a lot more easier.

Very soon the IPRS will have multiple technological changes within the country and we’re excited to witness this change in the Music Industry, Are you?

Until then the closing question of every artist remains to say “Where Are My Royalties?”

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