Pay and Play says the Indian Copyright Societies

pay-and-playThe controversial copyright societies – Indian Performing Rights Society(IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) are yet again under the scanner, for the erratic and arbitrary collection of royalties, despite their uncertain status.The representatives of the societies are demanding license fees and royalties for the music being played at live events, weddings and the likes.

The sum usually varies from Rs.5, 000 to Rs.80, 000[1]and the artists, bands or organizers that are approached often end up paying in order to avoid any last minute hurdles.The royalties being collected are on the pretext of distributing them to the original composers. In addition to this, the societies claim that they have a reciprocal agreement with the members of the music industry assignmentin India and abroad which includes nations like China, Russia, and England amongst several others.If a sound recording is used as is, license ought to be sought only from PPL. On the other hand, if only the musical score and the lyrics are used, as is the case in live concerts, license from IPRS is to be procured.

Sections 33, 34 and 35 of the Copyright Act amended in 2012 relate to streamlining the registration and functioning of copyright societies.Section 33 (3A) of amendment required that previous copyright societies apply for re-registration should furnish full accounts before the Copyright Board on or before 21 June 2013. The societies failed to get registration from the Board but claimed that the registration has neither been cancelled nor renewed but pending due to internal inquiries[2].On the contrary,IPRS took a paradoxical stand inIPRS vs Union of India &Ors and Hasan Kamal vs Union of India[3], where the subject matter of the writ petition was to look into itsirregularities.IPRS contended that it was not a registered copyright society post the 2012 amendment. Going by the opposing stands that the societies have taken and their legalde-recognized status, their activities like granting of licenses and collection of royalties stand infructuous.

Few questions that remain lingering are – what is the basis of collection, that is, what is the determining factor for the quantum of royalty collected? Secondly, what if a band performance includes songs from different artistes? How are the royalties distributed in such a setting? Further,the credibility of the representatives can always be put to question. How can one be assured that the royalties actually reaches the original musician or composer?

In order to continue as lawful ‘licensors’, the copyright societies need to establish an authentic status and adhere to the legal provisions, thereby instilling faith in the shaken trust.


[1]“Caught between music and royalty claims” available at <> (Last viewed on 19 September 2015)

[2]“IPRS, PPL claims over royalty under cloud” available at <> (Last viewed at 22 September 2015)

[3]Writ Petition no. 2384/2014 and 2236/2014