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parliament.THMB.jpg Parliament gives nod to strengthened copyright law

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SME Times News Bureau | 23 May, 2012
Empowering the creative sector, parliament Tuesday enacted a law that strengthens the royalty claims of artistes, song and script writers, musicians and those in similar fields and addresses newer issues related to the digital world and the Internet.

The Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012, was passed by the Lok Sabha with members from both the treasury and opposition benches supporting it in one voice. They said those from the creative sectors were denied their due for long and that the money earned from their creative works was garnered by the producers and those commissioning them.

The legislation was approved by the Rajya Sabha May 17.

The law provides for declaring authors as the owners of the copyright for their creative work and that this right cannot be assigned to producers, as has been the practice till now.

It also makes it mandatory for broadcasters from both the radio and television industry to pay royalty to the owners of copyright each time a work of art is broadcast.

The law also bans cover versions of literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.

Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who had moved the bill in Lok Sabha, sought strong support from members for the legislation that will do away the injustice meted out to the creative people.

Sibal noted that artistes, who came from poor background, were left to fend for themselves, as producers cornered all royalties that came from the work, be it stories or scripts or songs.

He said the legislation was to help the artistes to lead a decent living even in old age, continuing to receive their dues for the work done during their prime.

Giving examples of Shehnai exponent Bismillah Khan and music composer Ravi, the minister pointed out that the condition of such excellent artistes was pitiable and they were unable to even bear their housing and medical costs.

He said various recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee had been incorporated in the bill.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj supported the bill and said it was long overdue.

"It is a step in the right direction in protecting the interest of the lyricists, who create wonderful songs," she said.

Sushma Swaraj said film producers had lobbied with her to oppose the bill but she decided to support it when well-known director and music composer Vishal Bhardwaj said the amendments were for the good of the lyricists.

Earlier, participating in the discussion on the bill in the upper house, noted lyricist and nominated member Javed Akhtar complained that companies have right over songs and the writers and singers do not get much from the commercial success.

"Music companies dictate terms to even noted musicians like A.R. Rahman and others," he said.

The bill also seeks to bring the Indian law enacted in 1957 in conformity with international norms and World Intellectual Property Organisation guidelines.
 
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