Music composers, lyricists outraged at High Court order on royalty issue

MUMBAI: Last week’s ruling by the Mumbai High Court in favour of Radio City has peeved music composers and song writers.

The Mumbai HC’s ruling said that Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), which safeguards the copyright of music composers and lyricists, is not entitled to claim or demand royalty or license fees from FM Radio channels for the songs and music they broadcast.

While, music composers and lyricists wanted a separate royalty every time their music was played; post the ruling, FM stations will only have to deal with the body of music companies namely Phonographic Performances Limited (PPL) for obtaining a licence to play the music and not IPRS.

Music Broadcast Private Limited (MBPL), which runs Radio City, had moved the High Court in 2006 stating that it has been paying royalty to the IPRS in addition to paying a license fee to PPL and wanted to discontinue the former.

Speaking on the verdict, veteran singer Jagjit Singh says, “It means that radio companies are happy to respect the copyrights of music companies but not of artists.”

Javed Akhtar adds, “It is really double-speak! The radio fraternity has throughout been telling us that they would love paying composers and lyricists royalty and not the PPL. But now it is revealed that the stand taken by them in the court is exactly opposite! This is indeed like stabbing us in the back. I don’t understand how this judgment would stand, because it appears to be in gross violation of International Treaties, TRIPS, and other obligations.”

Lalit Pandit further adds, “Both the radio industry and music companies have let us down! We feel cheated and will now formulate our stand on how to deal with both of them.”

Vishal Bharadwaj opines, “This only goes to show how vulnerable the community of composers and lyricists are and hence it is high time that the Parliament gets the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act enacted at the earliest. I think that’s the only way to protect all the artists in this country.”

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