On the last day of the budget session, the UPA government quickly pushed through a few important social sector Bills, including the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012.
Lyricist and Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akhtar told DNA that as of now song writers, singers and composers got royalty only one time for their creations as they surrendered the Copyright. But now authors will secure their royalties which can only be given to a legal heir.
“When it comes to payment of royalties through other mediums, producers and authors must share that royalty in equal measure,” said human resource development minister Kapil Sibal while presenting the Bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha with all parties supporting the cause to give creative artistes their dues whose benefits are allegedly cornered by the producers.
The Bill makes it mandatory for broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time their creation is broadcast. It also bans persons from bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.
“This new law will secure the royalties of writers, composers, musicians etc which they had to legally surrender so far,” said Akhtar, who has been the most vocal amongst Bollywood personalities in demanding amendment to the Copyright Act enacted in 1957.
Sibal said that since the new law ensures that authors will remain owners of the copyright, it will help them live a good life when they grow old. “I remember when Ustaad Bismillah Khan came to me and said that he did not have money to pay his rent. I cut a cheque for him for one whole year so that he could pay his rent... I have known of artists who could not pay their hospital bills because the producers would not part with their royalty. The time has come to correct all these things,” Sibal said.
Lata Mangeshkar, who had taken up the issue of singers’ royalty back in the 1960s, expressed hope that the new law will regulate the rampant copyright infringement on TV, radio and internet. “ I see my songs being sung on television by other singers while music companies are busy coming up with newer compilations of my songs,” she said, adding that there was no easy way of stopping such practices. “Now that the bill has been passed, how will they control the music companies,” Mangeshkar wondered.