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August 27, 2021

Review: ‘Continued Economic Benefit To The Author: Royalties In The Indian Film Industry – Historical Development, Current Status, And Practical Application’ By Renuka Medury

Author: Intern - Anjuri Saxena

Citation: Medury R. (2019) Continued Economic Benefit to the Author: Royalties in the Indian Film Industry – Historical Development, Current Status, and Practical Application. In: Liu KC., Racherla U. (eds) Innovation, Economic Development, and Intellectual Property in India and China. ARCIALA Series on Intellectual Assets and Law in Asia. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-8102-7_9


The aforementioned article analyses the copyright law governing the royalty payment to authors of literary and musical works in India. The issue of royalty payment has had a contentious journey in India. This article details how the music production deals exist in India and deals with the relevant statutory provision and judicial precedents which have decided the course of royalty payment. It also delves into the problems posed by the copyright societies in India and analyses the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012. After tracing various relevant judicial precedents and statutory developments, the article asserts the importance of ethical copyright societies in shaping the royalty regime in India.

Historical backdrop

The article highlights the different stakeholders involved in music deals, ranging from music composers, lyricists to producers. It states that various stakeholders are involved through individual contracts, all of which results in the composition of the music being commissioned to the producer of the film who might further assign it to a music label. The article elucidates that by virtue of Section 17 of the Copyright Act, in case a literary or musical work is commissioned, the copyright in the entire film, including the literary and musical work therein, vests with the producer. This ultimately leads to exploitation of musical works by film producers and label without any appropriate royalty payment to the music composers and lyricists.

Copyright Societies

The article enumerates the prominent copyright societies in India, namely IPRS, i.e. the Indian Performing Right Society and PPL i.e. the Phonographic Performance Limited. It highlights the substantial changes which took place in the composition of the governing body of IPRS, which effectively forced out independent control of both the societies and established monopoly of sorts. The article also elucidates upon the aftermath of such change, which ultimately led to the emergence of new modes of exploitation of authors. The article picks out the few changes brought about due to the composition of governing bodies but has a peripheral outlook towards it. The article further does not delve into the actual benefit that accrues due to such copyright societies and their importance as well. 

Amendment and Its Impact

The article states that the exploitation of different stakeholders in the music deals led to the introduction of the amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012, which were brought to enforce a new regime of royalty collection and distribution in India. The article highlights that the amendments were modelled on the authors’ remuneration provision contained in the EC Rental Rights Directive, heralding equitable remuneration, unwaivable royalty rights and entrustment to a collecting society. The article goes on to elucidate upon the different changes introduced by the amendment and provides a look into the aftermath of the same. It highlights the tussle which ensued after the enforcement of the requirement of registration of pre-existing copyright societies with the central government within a period of one year. The refusal of pre-existing copyright societies to comply with the amendments and the cunning utilization of the denial of re-registration of these societies has been intricately explained. 

The article further highlights interesting lacunas in the language of the amendments that have been exploited contractually by various parties. The article correctly identifies that though the intention was bona fide, instead of aiding the different stakeholders, the ambiguous language has led to different ways of exploitation. The article highlights that the interpretation of “equal share” of royalties as mandated by the amendments stands to be unclear since the way of appropriate delineation of such royalties when different scenarios come into play has not been explained.

Way Forward

The article after analysing different statutory and judicial changes through the years, and the problems posed thereafter, heralds the role of copyright societies in determining the future of the royalty regime in India. It states that to achieve the same it is essential that the working of copyright societies becomes more transparent. It further emphasises that the interpretation of the several provisions introduced by the amendments need to be unambiguous so as to lead to effective implementation of the same.


The article provides an in-depth analysis of the law governing royalty payments to authors of literary and musical works in India. It extensively elucidates upon the judicial precedents and the statutory developments in relation to royalty payments. Furthermore, the article very befittingly identifies the problems that have ensued due to the amendments brought about in the copyright regime. The article conclusively states that copyright societies are instrumental in changing the royalty payment regime, however, fails to highlight how that would be achieved and how they would aid in making the current copyright regime less exploitative.   

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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