India: The Return Of The Nightingale: An Insight Into The IP Licensing Regime In The Music Industry In India

Last Updated: 15 May 2018
Article by Samridh Ahuja

Music Industry in India has Seen the Light

"It's a very frightening situation because it's only the royalty we count on. The music industry has completely changed, people now believe in buying and consuming music digitally. If we have no stake in our music, then we won't have anything left."5
-Ram Sampath, Music Composer

This statement was made much before the enforcement of the Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act (hereinafter referred as the "Amendment Act") 2012, in an era devoid of rights available to performers. "Performers rights", was a concept introduced only in the Amendment Act. Prior to this amendment, the film producers used to make contracts with the music composers and artists on a work-for-hire basis with only a flat fee as remuneration, thus, shutting out any possibility of royalties for the creativity. All the royalties that came in as a result of the commercial use of the underlying music composition/ song rendition went to the author of the copyright, namely, the producer. In a country where most popular music comes from films/movies, the performers in general have suffered immensely over the years.

Power is in Words: The Story of Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar, a famous writer-composer-lyricist, was not paid royalties for years, owing to the outdated Copyright law that prevailed for long. The fight for royalties started long back in 1960s itself, when Lata Mangeshkar, also regarded as the "Nightingale of India", first raised her voice in demand.6 In the words of Javed Akhtar, "Lata Ji would have been one of the three richest women in the world7, if she would have rightfully been given her royalties". Javed Akhtar is the man who carried the movement forward, fought till the end, and is the reason that the Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, has even seen the light. He fought this battle alone for 10 years, but the results of his struggle were overwhelming and appreciated by the music industry at large. Section 38A of the Amendment Act, 2012, was a shining armor for the performers in the music industry in India as it introduced the law that favors performers' rights. Royalties are now attributed rightfully.

Licensing Explained

With the advent of the Amendment Act, 2012, Performer's Rights in India are now in coherence with Article 14 of the TRIPS Agreement and are also compatible with Articles 5 to 10 of the "WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty" (WPPT). Indian Music industry is now highly regulated and the Copyright Board has been put in place under the Amendment Act to adjudicate on the issues relating to distribution of royalties in the industry.

In India, two leading copyright societies exist, namely, Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL). "IPRS manages the rights of lyricists and composers and issues licenses to perform publicly, the essential works assigned to it either directly or indirectly or through its set up of associated foreign collecting societies, while PPL controls the rights of record labels and companies which create sound recordings and issues licenses for collaborative sound recordings allocated to it by the record companies to the public upon disbursement of valid license fees/royalty."8

Also, with the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, coming into force, singers have united to form another copyright society called Indian Singers' Rights Association, which was registered in 2013. ISRA has 249 Indian singers as its members, with a board consisting of the famous singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Pankaj Udhas, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam.9 On the other hand, the composers wanted to continue being a member of IPRS, which has been reconstituted under the Amendment Act. They are not of the opinion that a new copyright society be created, but are not averse to the idea as well.10

The functioning and working of the copyright societies in India has been well explained in the case of - Entertainment Network (India) Ltd vs. Super Cassette Industries Ltd & Ors11. In this case it was stated that the existence of the copyright society is for the benefit of the copyright holder. The society must help the copyright owner in a way that he/she is able to exploit his/her intellectual property rights in a structured manner. "The society grants license on behalf of the copyright owner, files for litigation on their behalf not only for the purpose of enforcement but also protection to enforcement of the copyright owner's right. It not only pays royalty to the copyright owner but is authorized to dispense the amount collected by it amongst its members."12 But the functioning of societies is under the scanner nowadays, as societies have been using this law for getting personal gains, thus making the enforcement of this law redundant.

Industry Standard

There has always been complaints with the royalties being charged by PPL and IPRS. The functioning of these societies has been underwhelming and levying of high royalties has been one of the highlights. There is no fixed royalty mechanism, no structure whatsoever. It does not come as a shock that these societies have been subject to endless litigations.

A recent order of the Copyright Board has favored the Terrestrial Radio industry, by setting a fair pricing royalty rates. The Copyright Board fixed the royalty to be paid by radio stations to the music owners at 2% of the net advertising revenues. This was a relief, as it reversed the regime of charging unacceptably high royalty rates.13

Piracy Lets You Down

"KPMG notes that just 1%-2% of music is consumed by way of legal purchase in India, whereas 99% of the music consumption is still illegal."14 If these reports are to be believed, piracy is eating up the music industry at an alarming rate. It's true that piracy has been rampant all over the world, but it has apparently very strong roots in India.

Digital Media: Hope or Despair?

One could only think that looking at the fallouts in the music industry in India; digital media must have made a mark but the current scenario is rather disappointing. With the consumer market shifting to digital services for obtaining music, the laws have not been keeping pace. Owing to the high royalty rate regime, "One of the four major legal music streaming services - Dhingana - shut down, leaving only, Saavn, and Hungama as the remaining digital music outlets broadcasting music from India for consumption in India and abroad."15


There is still no fixed royalty rate set by the societies, and the rates charged are so high that it becomes really difficult for the digital media services to survive in the music industry. Shutting down of "Dhingana" is a consequence of the same. Rampant piracy is another evil factor that needs urgent attention in India.

Law has to be made less ambiguous and more efficient, if music industry in India has to be at par with global market for music. Even after a terrible run and fall scenario, KPMG projects that- "India's recorded music business will nearly double over the next five years, bringing in an annual income of 18.9bn Indian Rupee (US $300m) in 2019."16

The legend Javed Akhtar, the man who in a way shaped the music industry, has recently been elected as the Chairperson for the reconstituted IPRS. "A new chapter is yet to begin", he says17, and we agree.


5. Sonil Dhedia, "Lyricists, music composers decry HC judgment", Rediff, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

6. Shubha Shetty-Saha, "When royalty for Bollywood musicians is out of tune",, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

7. Subhash K Jha, "Lata would be one of the world's three richest women: Javed Akhtar", DNA (Daily News and Analysis) India, See (last assessed on, April 11th, 2018).

8. Divya Srinivasan, "Singing A Different Tune? – Issues Pertaining To Collection Of Royalties By Copyright Licensing Societies In India", Mondaq, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

9. Anand and Anand, "'Musical Scales' in Indian Copyright Law: Introducing the Right to Receive Royalty (The R3 Right) of the 'Performer Owner' in a Song", Asia IP, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

10. L. Gopika Murthy, "Artists unionize and register copyright societies to avail of benefits under the Amended Copyright Act", spicy IP, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

11. 2008 (37) PTC 353 (SC).

12. Supra Note 4.

13. The Times of India, "Onerous licensing regime killing legal digital music", The Times of India (Business), See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

14. Tim Ingham, "India's music business will almost double in value by 2019 – KPMG", Music Business Worldwide, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

15. Supra Note 9.

16. Supra Note 10.

17. IANS, "New chapter has started: Javed Akhtar on revamped IPRS", Indian Express, See (last assessed on April 11th, 2018).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions