ANALYTICAL STUDY ON THE COPYRIGHTABILITY OF HOME RECORDINGS OF MUSICAL WORKS AND PERFORMANCES IN INDIA
Author By- Manal Ali
Walter Savage Landor stated, “No property is so entirely, purely and religiously a man’s own as what comes to him immediately from God, without intervention or participation.” A human being is associated with music since a very long time. They create platforms to perceive music from life performance to downloading. As human beings we should be aware of certain acts whether they are legal or illegal. It has been seen in the IPR works that infringement exists in different forms. In our day to day activity we come across different incidents of copyright infringement in music and performances. In this paper we are discussing about the Copyrightability of Home Recordings of Musical Works and Performances in India. We have further discussed this topic with the help of different cases and have analyzed as to how this infringement is determined. This problem can be solved by creating awareness among people and enforcing certain strict laws.
Keywords: Music, Performance, Performer, Copyright, Infringement
Since time immemorial we have had in our country some great and creative writers, lecturers, singers, musicians, dancers and even poets and actors, who wrote, performed, composed their work for recognition and fame. The works of such great people were appreciated and not copied but then slowly there came a time when their work and rights needed to be protected and at the same time their knowledge needed to be spread. To serve both these purposes a balancing system was needed which led to the origin of copyright laws. This was recognized in the 15th century after the invention of printing press, when books were reproduced in large numbers. The “Statute of Anne”, passed in 1709 was the first copyright law in England and the first Copyright Act in the world. It came into force on10th April, 1710. It provided that the creator or writer of any book which was already printed will further have a complete right of printing books of homogeneous nature for at least 21 years and for a period of 12 years which will start from the date of publication. After the term expires the author will further have authority for the sole right of printing the book for another 14 years. The Second Copyright Act was passed in 1814. But then the Third Copyright Act of 1842 repealed the Copyright Acts of 1709 and 1814. Then in England in 1911 and 1956, the Copyright Act was passed and a committee was appointed under a Chairman. In our country, India in 1914 the First Act was passed which was actually a copy of the Copyright Act of 1911 of England with certain modifications. Again in 1957 the next Copyright Act was passed which had adopted many provisions and principles from the Act of UK of 1956. This Act finally came into force on 21st January, 1958. The Ministry of Human Resources and Development have made some new amendments on 14th March, 2013 in the rules pertaining to Copyright. In 2020-2021, during the lockdown period since the people could not go out of their homes, they started doing activities like recording of their songs on singing platforms, of dances as well as many more activities. Before the lockdown people used to do these activities but the number of user increased during the lockdown due to Covid-19.
The English Oxford Dictionary has defined copyright in very simple words, it says that copyright is an exclusive right which has been conferred by law to an author, composer, etc. so that he can print, publish or sell his original work for a certain time period. Thus, the author being the first owner of copyright, on his work, gets an exclusive right to exploit his creation. Chapters III of Indian Copyright Act, 1957, consist of classes of works which are subjected to copyrights. Copyright law protects different kinds of works. It includes:
Copyright did not come into existence suddenly, rather it came into limelight when the creators felt insulted and protested that their original work was being distorted. In today’s world the word copyright is known to everyone, whether it be from television shows, advertisements, books or any video posted on YouTube. In any of these above categories we see that it is either written as @AllRightsReserved or @CopyrightsReserved. This Act basically protects the originality of the idea and also its presentation in tangible form, rather than the idea being protected as a whole.
Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957 defines copyright infringement. It simply means that the original material which was protected under copyright is being used or produced without the permission of the creator of that material, who is also the copyright holder. It also means that the copyright holder who had exclusive right over his work for a particular time period but now it is being breached by a third party. Some forms of entertainment which suffer from copyright infringement frequently are music and movies. The companies and individuals who create and develop work register their work for copyright protection so as to ensure that their efforts are rewarded. If any other person wants to use the work of the creator, he may be granted permission to do so through either obtaining license or he may have to purchase the work from the copyright holder.
Musical work is actually a combination and arrangement of lyrics, rhythm, cords and notes. It also includes melodies, harmonies and their distinct fusion which can either be vocal or instrumental. It should be in a tangible form and should not be just an idea. When the musical work is produced on a paper it is called sheet music. For the registration of copyright an application has to be made by the composer along with two copies of the work and a fee of Rs. 500.
Section 2 (p) of the Copyright Act, 1957 describes musical work. It states that musical work consists of music and it also includes any graphical notation of that work, but at the same time any action, words which was intended to be sung, spoken or performed with music is not included in the musical work.
Section 2 (d) (ii) of the Copyright Act, 1957 describes the author of the musical work. It states that the composer of music is the author of the musical work. The composer has complete right over the musical work which is protected for further period of 60 years from the next year of composer’s death.
Section 2 (ffa) of the Copyright Act, 1957 describes the composer of the musical work. It states that the3 person who composes the music is the composer in relation to musical work. It does not matter whether the composer has recorded the music in any form of graphical notation.
Section 2 (z) of the Copyright Act, 1957 defines the work of joint authorship. It states that the work of joint authorship means that the work was produced by two or more authors in collaboration, in which the contribution of the author’s was quite similar and not distinct.
Sound recording which is also known by the name of Machine Recording is actually the work which is produced electronically, digitally or mechanically. It is produced through singing, speaking or fixation of other sounds. It is mandatory for the author of sound recording to store it in a disk, tape, MP3, etc. so that this work can be reproduced whenever required.
Section 2 (uu) of the Copyright Act, 1957 defines the author of the sound recording; it states that the author of sound recording is actually the producer or performer of the work.
Sound recording includes reading of a book, holding lectures, podcasts or interviews or audio recording of a song that is sung or a musical instrument that is played.
Sound recording has been defined in Section 2 (xx) of the Copyright Act, 1957. It states that sound recording means when the sounds are recorded and from such recording sounds are produced. It is actually a fixation of sounds in a sequence excluding the audio-visual work.
An example of sound recording is Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 rendition of Landslide, Fleetwood Mac’s Live Concert Recording 1980 is a sound recording which is protected by copyright.
Sound recording rights are protected in the similar manner as the musical work that is for the next 60 years after the producer’s death from the next calendar year.
Performer has been defined in Section 2 (qq) of the Copyright Act, 1957. It states that a performer may be an actor, musician, dancer or singer. It can also be an acrobat, juggler, snake charmer or a conjurer. It can further include a person who is delivering a lecture or a person who is making a visual live presentation.
Section 38 of the Copyright Act, 1957 provides protection to the performer’s rights which is valid for 50 years from the next calendar year in which the performance was recorded.
According to Sec 2(q) of the Copyright Act, 1957, Performance in relation to performer’s right means any visual or acoustic presentation made live by one or more performers.
COMPARISON BETWEEN MUSICAL
WORK AND SOUND RECORDING
There is a big difference between Musical Works and Sound Recording Works. While the rights of a musical work belong exclusively to the composer or the musician, the rights of the recording belong to the singer, the narrator or the record label producing the record. However, while filing the copyright registration applications people face difficulty in seeing the difference between them. In the case, Indian Performing Rights Society vs. Eastern Indian Motion Pictures Association AIR 1977 SC 1443, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that, “In a musical work, Copyright is not the soulful tune, the super singing, the glorious voice or the wonderful, rendering. It is actually the melody or harmony which is reduced to printing, writing or graphic form.” Sound recording has been defined under Section 2 (xx) of the Copyright Act, 1957, which states that when the sounds are recorded and from such recording, sounds may be produced, regardless of the medium on which such recording is made or the method by which the sounds are produced. Sound recording means that when a graphical notation of a musical work is recorded in any medium and from that medium sounds may be produced in a tangible medium like cassettes, cartridges, phonograph discs, piano rolls, etc. in which the sound is fixed and it can be transmitted directly or through a device.
Meanwhile, the person who takes the work, initiative and responsibility for making it is labeled as the Producer whereas the author of a sound recording work is the producer of the sound recording. For example, when a composer develops a melody, it will be registered under music category whereas when the same melody is recorded in CD, Flash Drives or other such mediums of recording in which sound is fixed and can be communicated directly or through the aid of machine or device, the said recording will be registered under the Sound Recording category. When a normal song is recorded there are two separate copyright laws governing it. The first for musical work and the second for the recording saved in the CDs. The piracy of a disc violates both copyrights. But if someone sings an unapproved cover of the song, it will violate only the rights of the composer or its lyricist. In this regard, the Court rules that the rights of literary and musical works are owned exclusively by the lyricist and the musician. However, the rights of the sound recording lies only with the producer. Since the lyricist and composer of a song are creators of their work and have exclusive rights over their musical works, the producer must seek permission from them. Otherwise it will be deemed to be a direct infringement of their copyrights.
VALIDITY OF COPYRIGHTABILITY OF HOME RECORDING OF MUSICAL WORKS AND PERFORMANCES
The musical work in the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as a sound in a melodic or harmonic combination. It may be produced by voice or instruments. Copyright protection is extended to musical work which has not been reduced to any material form. Generally speaking it has been seen that a song consist of two copyrights, the first in the music and the other in the lyrics of the song which is a literary work. The music has always played a big role in the day to day life of an average person. Human beings are mostly exposed to music in some form or the other. It could be through movies, caller tunes, commercials, or a variety of other sources. Music has always appealed to an individual’s emotions and contributes to his ability to learn and remember information. This has inspired researchers to study the influence and impact that music has on individuals. Personal perceptions of self-efficacy are particular relevant in the field of musical works which is orientated towards the outward expressions of one’s own ability either through public performances or home recordings of musical works and performances. These musical works are works of art that can be valued as aesthetic objects, possessing personal style and originality. This belief that music in inscription and music in performance should be differentiated has been on everybody’s mind for some time.
The exclusive right of copyright is available for a period of 25 years and guarantee rights such as reproduction of sound or visual recording of the performances and its broadcast or other communication to the public etc. In general, copyright subsists for a term of the lifetime of the authors in addition to 60 years in case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. In joint authorship, the term is till the death of the last author, plus sixty years after it. In cinematograph films and sound recordings, term of copyright is for 60 years.
Musical licensing is a process in which an author’s musical composition or any other work is used after taking the author’s permission. The copyright owners license their exclusive and non-exclusive rights under the conditions of usage, territory, duration and other aspects, in return for royalties for the period till the author is alive and then 60 years after death, as has been stated in the Copyright Act of 1957.
According to Section 2(m) of the Copyright Act, in regard to a literary, dramatic , musical or artistic work, infringing copy means “ a reproduction of work other than in the form of a cinematograph film”.
According to Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957, any reproduction in regard to literary, dramatic, artistic or musical work in the form of cinematograph film will be considered as an infringement. Regarding musical work infringement will be determined by the two senses: the eyes and the ears. If any two types of works which seem identical but are actually independent creations will not amount to infringement. In such situations the evidence of the experts and the impression upon judges will be given preference to determine the infringement. The copyright societies are to be registered under Section 38 of the Copyright Act, 1957. These societies grant licenses on behalf of the creators of the work to other persons who need to use the same.
Some Copyright societies that exist in India are:
IPRS deals with live performances and also performances through electronic means. It grants license to the users of music in consideration for royalties on behalf of the author, composers and publishers of music.
The PPL claims that whoever plays pre-recorded music is required to take a prior license from PPL otherwise it would amount to infringement under the Copyright Act, 1957.
ISRA is a separate copyright society which consists of performers. It has right to collect royalties on behalf of singers Public Performance License- It has been made mandatory by the Government to obtain a performance license, entertainment license and a public performance license to play either drums or music or recorded audio-videos in public areas. For playing background music in concerts, stage shows, dance floors or brand promotion, a separate license had to be obtained by PPL.
There have always been certain exceptions when a public performance license is not needed, an example would be when the person himself writes a song and then plays it for the public.
Music played in weddings is not subject to copyright, as well as music played in DJs are too not subject to copyright. Only instrumental music and not Bollywood music can be played in hotels, restaurants or five star hotels, because of the fear of infringement to copyright.
A remix can be explained to be a media composition which has been modified from its original work elevating, amplifying and making changes in the music and tune which was in the original condition. In the present era, YouTube and Instagram reels are full of videos of individuals or people singing and lip-syncing, which means matching the lip movements of a person singing with spoken vocals. Remix, which is an entertainment content, has provided a significant input in the society and has also become a significant part of UGC which is User-Generated Content. They have further made a considerable contribution to social media including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc. If a remix is done without the consent of the original composer, it will be considered to be an unsanctioned remix and constitute copyright infringement. Under Section 52 (1) (j) of the Copyright Act, 1957, an individual that is trying to create a remix cannot make changes or alterations without the consent of the creator. This Act further provides that a legal sanction to use the copyright work is given if the user agrees to pay the required fee or agrees to meet the provisions in the law. Further the new created work must not be ventured with labels that might deceive the public at large about the original work of the artist. In addition to this the remix is not given consent to be produced until the expiry of two years, after the end of the year in which the original song or music was created. The original owner or creator has exclusive right of the title and has complete right to inspect all the records and publications with regard to the remix. If the owner of the copyright brings forward a complain that the royalty has not been paid or if the Copyright Board is prima facie or superficial, it may call for an order to halt the production of sound recording and to carry out further inquiries, it may adopt all the necessary measures according to its suitability. Under Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957 the remix makers are provided certain safeguards where:
The original work which is of paramount significance should not be made or created under remix until the expiration of two years. In the case of Ganpati Aarti Ashtvinayak Geete, the defendant wanted to create audio cassettes with reference to Ganpati Aarti. He requested for the original sound recording by providing a license fee to the plaintiff, but the plaintiff did not give consent for the same. In spite of it, the defendant bought the sound recording for making the audio cassettes. It was held that the consent of the original maker is consequential and therefore it was held as an act of infringement.
Smule is an online singing platform. It is considered to be one of the biggest and perfect platform which offers endless songs to the people who love music. They sing songs on the karaoke invitations. This platform is used by the people from the comforts of their homes. Generally, the youngsters who want to make music as their as their career set up recording studios with latest sound and music technologies at home. Smule is an app which is an effective karaoke bar and the company Smule is the owner of this bar. This company is doing a very profitable business, since there are many upcoming singers who want to try out their talent at nominal price. According to the Copyright laws the owner of Smule is assumed to comply with the provisions and laws and pay for the copyright music sung by the people in this app. In spite of this many people claim quite a few songs on this app are illegal and unlicensed. In this app a great risk is involved because if the original creator of a song files a complaint for copyright infringement, the owner can blame the visitor as a defaulter and blacklist him or her so that the copyright complainant is satisfied. According to a survey in 2018, Smule has become a global platform which has about 50 million monthly active users and 2 million VIP paying users.
In a copyright infringement case Ilaiyaraaja, a world famous music composer of more than 35 years, claimed copyright infringement by Smule for not taking permission for his tunes from him. He held that some accomplished playback singers also cannot perform songs composed by him. Therefore Smule had to remove from its database some of the legendary composes songs. According to the copyright consultant of this Ilaiyaraaja – Every composer has a right over the performance right of his songs or tunes and since no permission was taken from him regarding its usage so they had to be removed. Smule being a chargeable site across the world and India being a big market for it, this company is minting money. Anybody who wishes to sing songs composed by this great composer would have to pay a royalty fee. So under this Copyright Act, 1957, all the people are stopped from singing commercially without permission.
Starmaker being similar to Smule is another vast platform in which people sing thousands of songs from their homes. It was observed that this company’s karaoke application uses lyrics that are copyrighted therefore it seems that they must be complying with the provisions of the copyright act. One of the users of this app stated that if you upload your own video and sing the song in your own voice then you are under no copyright claim, but if you upload the content of others without any prior permission from them, you can be prosecuted as it is considered illegal. This application, though is supposed to be used for non-commercial purpose, there are many people who sing songs on this app and upload it on YouTube to make money out of it. Since YouTube doesn’t seem to object these uploads therefore the singers are not violating any laws if they sing in their own voice and thus not infringing on copyrights.
YouTube, previously used to be an ad-free website where many videos were just posted, but now it has become a home for commercialized content creation by professionals or people to qualify as being professionals. In YouTube the content creators are permitted to upload videos that they have made themselves or have been given the authority to use. One can link to another person’s video on YouTube but should never claim another person’s video as your own or re-upload it which will be a case of copyright infringement. The YouTube content ID system allows the rights holder to give examples of their copyrighted work to the YouTube who then looks for similar content that might match the copyright work. The content holder has a right to mute or block the video that matches his original content in some countries or worldwide. If an individual copies a very minute portion of a video on YouTube it will be considered as an infringement. A video uploaded on YouTube can be blocked firstly when the copyright owner feels that his content has been uploaded without his permission, he can then file a takedown notice through the platform. This notice is governed by the principles of law. The YouTube reviews this notice and takes down the content if it is satisfied that the rights of the owners have been infringed by the infringer. Secondly, a content ID is a unique copyright enforcement tool. In YouTube when a video is uploaded, the YouTube algorithm itself scans whether the audio or video that is uploaded matches with any of the millions of videos that have been uploaded on this platform and if it finds it matches, the YouTube itself files a copyright claim for the owner, thus liberating the owner to take action by himself.
In case there is a mismatch in the content ID the owner of the video has three options:
The content ID allows the users on a platform to make modification and funny videos from the original work without hurting the interest of the creators. In 2018, Robert Kyncl, the Chief Business Officer of YouTube said that in about 90% of Content ID cases the copyright owners prefer to collect revenue and the YouTube has paid billions of dollars to such owners when there has been a content ID mismatch. In 2018 only, the YouTube also introduced a Copyright Match tool which is a small version of the Content ID system. This tool is available to the channels, which have 100,000 or more subscribers. This tool has prevented the infringers from downloading their videos and also re-uploading their videos to a different channel for financial gains.
The doctrine of Fair use only allows the creator to reuse the content that was created by the copyright owner, without his permission. It is applicable in certain circumstances only and its provisions are not determined by the YouTube but decided by Court of Law.
The Copyright Management Suit handles all the copyright of users in the YouTube. Through this system the shareholders have control over the copyrighted content and they can decide as to what to do with the videos that have plagiarized their original content.
The three tools that YouTube uses as copyright tools are:
The Instagram consists of reels which is a short video with a time limit of about 60 seconds. This application is committed to protect the content owner’s copyright. When the reel is created the name of the content owner is visible at the bottom of the screen. Therefore if someone else uses an audio in their reels and anybody who views it will be able to see the name of the owner of such audio at the bottom of the screen. Again if someone uploads another’s music as his own, Instagram instantly replaces the reel description and gives credit to the original creator. The Instagram algorithm is competent enough to detect licensed music ad audio. It is capable of modifying the audio credits and adds the reels to the common page where all the reels that are using the same audio are available. Thus, Instagram tries to prevent the copyright violation when the users try to remix their reels with the reels of other users. Instagram also consists of a dedicated page where it explains the meaning of copyright and what content creators should do to stick to the rules of copyright. Since the active users in Instagram are pretty high so sometimes it becomes difficult to find the violator’s origin. Instagram app amends and updates its terms from time to time but in spite of this the composer who uses this app must keep in mind certain things to avoid copyright violation on Instagram. On the Instagram app the copyright for different types of content are as follows:
Regarding photo the photographer has exclusive copyright. They usually click and share to reproduce license or distribute, but at the same time they are capable of assigning such rights to another party.
The Instagram app is capable enough of automatically detecting any copyrighted music on stories of costs. It then gives a warning that a particular music cannot be used in the Instagram stories. It can also:
If a particular reel which is going to be uploaded has an external music which was added, then such a reel may not be published because of copyright claim and therefore it will not be accessible to anyone except the person who uploaded it. In case of life broadcasts a warning notification pops up immediately giving the user time to remove his audio so as to avoid the stream being disrupted or taken down
Dance is a creative work like a painting and is eligible for copyright protection. In a dance all individual movements and choreography must be described in detail so that it can be performed consistently. Such dances can be copyrighted. Copyright protection in a dance performance is more likely if it is done by a skilled dancer, it involves a story or theme and it is for the entertainment of others and also for one’s own satisfaction. Choreographic work is provided the same exclusive rights as any other copyrighted work. When a dance is deemed copyrightable then the copyright starts at the time of recording and lasts throughout the lifetime of performer plus 70 years. If a video is posted online which infringes your copyright on choreography, it can be removed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. While protecting one’s choreographic copyright, one must not forget to secure permission from the music copyright owner because there is no possibility of dance without music and it has been seen that the dancers and choreographers have always been at the mercy of musicians.
A poetry is special and unique as it requires hard work. It belongs to the creator and he should be able to derive benefits and profit from it. The copyright of a poem which is a literary work protects the creator’s creativity. There is a copyright registration process regarding a poem, it includes:
In case of Infringement of a poem, an individual is liable for punishment as well as penalty under Sections 66 and 67 of the Copyright Act, 1957. It includes penalty of Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs and imprisonment for 3 to 5 years. If one has created something in writing the best way to protect it is to ‘email it to yourself’ along with the date and then save it. A poem can be published online in many ways:
One should at last remember to add your credits and copyright to protect it from plagiarism.
Harivansh Rai Bachchan has written a poem ‘Need ka Nirmaan Phir Phir’. It was used by Kumar Vishwas in a video. In this case, Amitabh Bachchan issued a legal notice to him and asked for an account of the revenue that was generated from it and also demanded that the video should be deleted from the YouTube platform within 24 hours as it is a case of copyright infringement. Kumar Vishwas an AAP Leader offered Rs. 32 only.
To perform and thereby interpret the composer's work, the musician must first locate it,
so to speak. Composers communicate their works via sets of instructions addressed to
performers. To find the work, one must understand the work-identifying instructions.
Doing so requires a considerable amount of knowledge and experience.
To begin, one must know what is unmentioned because it is assumed by the
composer as knowledge shared in common with the musicians who are to perform his
work. The composer does not (usually) include among the work's specifications
instructions about how the instruments are to be built and played.
BENEFITS OF GETTING COPYRIGHT IN INDIA
There are many advantages of copyright registration which benefits the owner of original work. It prevents losses arising from the copies being made of the original work. In our country we have pirated music videos, books and DVDs which are available to all. These cause great losses to the authors and publishers. Sometimes even new movies are downloaded and shared through peer-sharing network causing loss to the producer. Another benefit of a copyright is that the registration being on record does not allow others to make unauthorized use of your work and by chance if one discovers that someone is copying the original work, he or she can send a ‘cease’ notice which saves a lot of time and money. Another big effect of copyright is that it gives an incentive to the creator to make new creations and innovations. For example: A music company can create new music or a company can develop a new software with the aim of making money and without worrying about it being copied or be distributed without consent.
The copyright registration ensures that the original work is protected along with the reputation of its creator like a music composer can prevent any shoddy copies of his or her work being made, thus protecting his reputation.
A copyright registration is necessary for many reasons:
The Copyright Act, 1957 protects the work of the artist or owner and confers upon him the right of selling and distributing his work. Music and performances whether they are in a dance or theatre form are an indispensable part of our lives. It has been claimed that seeing performances and listening to music is beneficial for our mental as well as physical health. In fact both these things are an antidepressant therapy for a human mind. The performances and musical works need to have protection so that the creators of these are always enthusiastic to create more and more work. The hard work of these creators should be rewarded and the false claimants should be strictly prohibited and penalized. Though there is a strong copyright law, still the infringement cases are rising high. If the enforcement authorities take strict action against those who copy the work of the creators without their permission, then the necessity for originality will be obvious. All the platforms whether YouTube, Instagram or singing and musical platforms are concerned about the rights of copyright owners. These platforms keep improvising their algorithms so that they can detect the unfair use of copyright content. The basic idea of copyright law was to overcome a situation where an artist gets demoralized if his creation is not rewarded due to the fault of others and thereby he finds no motivation in creating something new.
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