Music composers, lyricists to challenge High Court verdict on royalty issue


MUMBAI: Leading music directors and lyricists from the Hindi film industry got together today to voice their woes against music and radio companies over the royalty issue.

Those present at the press conference were Javed Akhtar, Vishal Bharadwaj, Sameer, Wajid Khan, Loy Mendonsa, Lalit Pandit, Ram Sampat, Jalees Sherwani, Shamir Tandon and Ravi Shankar Sharma amongst others.

Their angst was against last week’s ruling by the Mumbai High Court in favour of Radio City, which said that the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), which safeguards the copyright of music composers and lyricists, was not entitled to claim or demand royalty or license fees from FM Radio channels for the songs and music they broadcast.

Akhtar said, “The verdict is not compatible with the Copyright Act of India. The question now is not who the rights belong to! The entire existence of our rights is now being questioned. We are going to challenge this verdict.”

Sampat added, “If we have no stakes, it spells the end of the Indian music industry’s creativity. We really are at our wit’s end now. It’s strange that corporate India has no qualms in paying royalties to us but I can’t understand why the music industry doesn’t understand this.”

Sameer said, “Producers always tell us that music is the first card that they open to the public when they make a new film and that if they don’t have good music, then there is a chance their movie won’t work. It’s sad that we are in this situation right now.”

Veteran music director Ravi Shankar Sharma, who sued the makers of Slumdog Millionaire for using his song from Darshan Do from Narsi Bhagat in the movie, opined, “My song was used in Slumdog Millionaire without my permission and I sued them for Rs 20 crore. However, in an out of court settlement, I was paid Rs 20 lakhs. The song they used was not composed for Slumdog Millionaire but for Narsi Bhagat. The biggest right is that of the creator.”

Loy Mendonsa (from the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio) said, “I have only one thing to say about the judgement, which is that just because you own a car doesn’t mean that the petrol comes free. We are only asking for what is rightfully ours.”

Akhtar concluded, “We don’t have an iota of doubt that we will won this case. I also hope that when the amended Copyright Act comes in place, we will not face any such problems.”