Online Streaming Is Now Covered Under Indian Copyright Act

The digital marketplace is now being revolutionized by the music industry. The music right holders work hard so that they can license their work to the hundreds of digital services available online. That is why consumers have easy legal access to a variety of music. With the advent of a diversified and a developing marketplace, the option of downloading is comparatively less while compared to online streaming through Gaana, Spotify, Saavan etc. There has been an emergence of new operating models and services on the Internet which attracted the recent change in the Copyright Act,1957.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion [DIPP] in India has brought about a change in the ambit of copyright law which requires music rights holders like T- Series, to approach the copyright board while deciding royalties on songs. The government shifted all the copyright related issues from the Department of Higher education to the DIPP, which is now the most vital agency for all Intellectual Property Rights matters in India. So far, internet broadcasting was not covered and so it turned out to be disadvantageous as the music right owners used to charge high amounts of royalties on songs and not share them with artists. But now with the advent of this new change in the Copyright Act 1957, particularly in Section 31D, the words “any broadcasting organization desirous of communicating to the public” includes not only radio and television but also includes internet broadcasting.

Important Points to Note

  • Music right holders have to share their content in exchange for a royalty. Now the content cannot be held back from any internet broadcaster. It has to be shared exclusively with the competing payer.
  • Artists will get their share of the royalty from the online content shared in the digital market. Before this change, the revenues used to be pocketed by music right owners.
  • NO more voluntary licensing programs for music rights owners with internet broadcasters.
  • The Bombay High Court recently stated that selling copyright-protected material without the necessary permission would lead to punishment and this is why one cannot be penalized for watching pirated content on the Internet.

Takeaway!

This is a positive notification for those music artists as they would also get a share of the royalties. Even though this DIPP notification has been discussed to be out of the scope of the purview of the Copyright Act, 1957, nevertheless it is a positive outcome for those entities like Gaana, Saavan and music artists. Entities like T-series and Tips also have to take permission from the copyright Board while deciding royalties now. Now that internet broadcasting has been covered under the copyright law, must rights owners do not have an upper hand in deciding royalties.

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