Wednesday, 31 January 2018

India: Re-Registration of IPRS as Copyright Society

Indian Performing Rights Society (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPRS’), a representative body of owners of music, viz. the composers, lyricists (or authors) and the publishers of music, on November 28, at last got re-registered as a copyright society, under the Copyright Act, 1957. Copyright Society is a legal society that shields and manages the interest of authors of copyrightable work.
In 1996, after the amendment to the Copyright Act in 1994, the IPRS got registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, as a Copyright Society to do the business of issuing licenses for usage of musical works and accompanying literary works. But, this decision was criticized as there were certain errors in the Articles of Association (AoA) of IPRS. These errors were:
  • Section 33 states that ‘……..Provided that an owner of copyright shall, in his individual capacity, continue to have the right to grant licences in respect of his own works consistent with his obligations as a member of the registered copyright society’. But, the AoA of IPRS mentioned ‘all members are required to assign their performing rights to the Society, after they were granted membership’. This ‘assignment’ was against the law.
  • It allowed individuals who were not owners of copyright to vote. This resulted in various litigations wherein companies like Saregama, Sony, Universal, Venus, etc., got back to back injunctions restraining IPRS from conducting its Annual General Meetings (AGMs).
Several other issues led to a major amendment to Copyright Act in the year 2012. This mandated that all copyright societies be re-registered with the Registrar of Copyrights. After this, IPRS did apply for re-registration, but later withdrew the application as it wished to discontinue as a registered copyright society. As a result this, it got de-registered in June, 2013.

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