1. What does the term “Work” mean in Copyright law?
Copyright is a statutory right i.e. a right granted by a law passed by Parliament. The Copyright Act, 1957 India recognises some specific works namely-

(a) Original literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works;
(b) Sound Recordings
(c) Cinematograph films

2. What must I do to “Copyright” my Work ?

Nothing! According to the law in India the Copyright in your work belongs to you by reason of the fact that you created or “made” that work. In some other countries the law requires that you shall conform to certain requirements such as registration and the payment of a fee, but in India the recognition of your copyright is automatic as soon as your work has been “made” i.e. comes into existence, and that means as soon as it has been reduced to writing or some other material form.

You should note that Copyright does not protect “ideas” but only protects the expression i.e., when something like a story, script, lyrics have been reproduced in some tangible, perceptible form like a manuscript or a record. India is also unique when it comes to musical compositions, because the Copyright Act, 1957 in India does not require a musical composition or be in writing (or graphically notated) for it to be recognised as a ‘work’ under the law.

There is, however, an important condition: Your work must be original, and not an unauthorised copy of someone else’s copyright work.

3. What does the term “Copyright” mean?

The copyright in the work (in the context of IPRS, these works are Literary Works (i.e. Lyrics) and Musical Works (musical composition i.e. the tune/ melody) means that you as an owner have the exclusive right to do certain things with that work, or to authorise anyone else to do them. They are the following:

(i) Reproduce the work in any material form;
(ii) Perform the work in public;
(iii) Produce, reproduce, perform or publish any translation of the work;
(iv) Make any cinematograph film in respect of the work;
(v) Make any sound recording in respect of the work;
(vi) To communicate the work by broadcast or to communicate to the public by any means;
(vii) Make any adaptation or translation of the work;

IPRS is at all times happy to assist its members with advice and guidance in their copyright problems.

4.What is The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) ?

The Indian Performing Right Society Limited or “IPRS” is a Copyright Society registered by the Central Government under Chapter VII of the Copyright Act, 1957. In essence IPRS is an Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of musical works and literary works associated with such musical works. From a legal constitution perspective, IPRS which came in existence in 1969 as a Company Limited by Guarantee and Registered under the Companies Act, 1956 and is a non-profit making body.
5. Why was IPRS set up?

Copyright Societies or Collective Management Organisations (“CMO”) like IPRS are established to help owners of rights, creators as well as users of copyrighted works. Societies like IPRS provide a one-window license and administration system in respect of specific works. In practice it would be intolerably troublesome and costly, if not wholly impracticable, if those needing permission to perform copyright music in public had to search for, approach and negotiate with each individual owner of the copyright in every piece of music on each occasion anywhere in the world, and of course it would be impossible for most copyright-owners to deal adequately with such applications.

A bit of history – In 1828, the Society for Dramatic Authors and Composers was set up in France and in 1851 SACEM, the world’s first Collective Mechanism Organisation (‘CMO’) was set up in France. Gradually CMOs were set up across the world in recognition of the requirement to remunerate stakeholders and creators in various copyright sectors including music. [You can read more at – https://www.cisac.org/CISAC-University/Library/Expert-Articles]. Today there are more than 230 copyright societies worldwide.

The IPRS was set up in India in 1969. The IPRS membership includes virtually all Indian Composers, Authors and Music Publishers whose works are publicly performed to any appreciable extent. IPRS also has Agreements of Reciprocal Representation with similar organizations in more than 50 countries throughout the world with which it remains in close and continuous contact. It authorises all those sister Societies to administer the rights of its members in their respective countries, and from their side they authorise IPRS to administer the rights of their members here in India. In all, the IPRS represents more than a million foreign composers, authors and publishers, through its affiliation agreements with similar societies in countries all over the world.

IPRS is also affiliated to the “International Confederation of World Societies of Authors and Composers” known as “CISAC” [https://www.cisac.org] based in Paris which represents more than 4 million creators worldwide!

6. How is IPRS authorised to grant licenses and / or collect royalties as a Copyright Society in India?
IPRS is a copyright society registered by the Central Government under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The Central Government granted a conditional registration in favour of IPRS as a Copyright Society with effect from November 28, 2017, which was confirmed vide Certificate dated June 8, 2018, in continuation and supersession of the November 2017 certificate. This registration is valid for a period of 5 years from such date of registration. A copy of the Certificate of Registration of IPRS is available at – https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Registration-Certificate-with-Letter.pdf.
7. What Works does IPRS administer?
IPRS administers rights in respect of Musical Works (i.e. musical compositions/tunes/melodies) and literary works (i.e. lyrics) associated with musical works.
8. What Rights does IPRS administer ?

The Copyright Act, 1957, provides that among the exclusive rights granted to owners of rights in respect of their works are the following loosely described rights: –

(i) the right to perform the work in public;
(ii) the right to communicate the work by broadcast;
(iii) the right to communicate the broadcast of the work to the public by a loud speaker;
(iv) the right to communicate the broadcast of the work to the public by any instrument;
(v) the right to make any record in respect of the work.

The first four rights are generally referred to in the Industry by the single expression ‘Performing Rights’, and the last right is referred to as ‘Mechanical Rights’, and are administered on behalf of its members by the IPRS as assigned.

The expression ‘Performing Right’, means and includes the right of performing in public, making available including broadcasting and causing to be transmitted to users/subscribers of a diffusion service in all parts of the world, by any means and in any manner whatsoever, all musical works or parts thereof and such words and parts thereof (if any) as are associated therewith (i.e. lyrics), including the vocal and instrumental music in cinematograph films, the words and/or music of monologues having musical introduction, and/or accompaniment, and the musical accompaniment of non-musical plays, dramatico-musical works including operas, operettas, Musical plays, revues or pantomimes and ballets, video, plays, serials, documentaries, dramas, commentaries etc. accompanied by music and the right of authorising any of the said Acts.

The expression ‘Mechanical Right’, means and includes the right of reproduction and storage including in any electronic format. This also includes works stored or reproduced on g recordings of all musical works or parts thereof and such words and parts thereof (if any), and ‘recording’ includes without limitation to the generality of the expression the aggregate of sounds embodied in records, discs, tapes and cartridges of all kinds. Including digital copies of such recordings

9. What is the “Right to Royalty?

IPRS also administers the author’s “Right to Receive (& Claim) Royalty” as guaranteed by the Copyright Act, 1957. This “Right to Receive Royalty” or “Author’s Statutory Royalty Right” is triggered upon the utilization of the literary and musical work [which includes (a) the Public Performing Right, (b) Communication to the Public Right and (c) Reproduction Right (i.e., Mechanical Right”] in “any form” with the only exception being the exhibition of the cinematograph film at a cinema hall. The Author’s Statutory Royalty right is inalienable i.e. it cannot be waived by the author of literary works and music works and further is only assignable to a Copyright Society for collection and distribution or to the legal heir of the Author of such literary and/or musical work and any contrary agreement will be void – clearly to safeguard vulnerable authors and music composers against predatory contracts. Thus, only IPRS a registered copyright society can (a) issue/grant licenses in respect of literary and musical works incorporated in cinematograph films and sound recordings; and/or (b) collect and distribute royalties for the utilization of the literary and musical works incorporated in a cinematograph film or sound recording other than for the communication to the public of a cinematograph film incorporating such work(s) in a cinema hall.

IPRS does not grant licenses in respect of the collection of its Author member’s Royalty Right – if the Publisher/Owner is not a member of IPRS – but only collects author/music composer member share with a clearance of such payment issued to the platform.

10. Who runs IPRS?

The Company’s policy is controlled by its Membership Body which elects a Governing Council of Directors elected by the members at General Meetings from among their own number. This Council comprises equal number of Music Publishers and Author / Composer. The Council is answerable to the Membership of IPRS.

The Management, appointed by the Governing Council which oversees the day-to-day functioning of IPRS is headed by the Chief Executive Officer, who is assisted by staff members all over the country. The Company’s Head Office is in Mumbai. In addition to the Head office the Company administers its operations from branch offices all over India in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata etc.

11. What changes were made to IPRS constitution?
IPRS has undergone major restructuring and reorganisation basis a historic closure and settlement of long pending disputes between authors/ composers and music publishers. The following are some of the steps taken:

  • Adoption of a new “constitution” in February 2017, in the form of the Articles of Association (“AoA”) which seeks to ensure that all stakeholder authors (lyricists), music composers and music publishers are treated equally and more critically have equal collective control over the working of IPRS. These new AoA respect the rights of all stakeholders including specifically that of Authors and Music Composers to the royalty as mandated by the Copyright Act, 1957 as well as that of music publishers to realise revenue from the exploitation of their works. The new IPRS AoA is available on the IPRS website at https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/IPRS-ARTICLES-OF-ASSOCIATION-AMENDED-AS-ON-03.08.2018.pdf
  • Free and fair elections to elect a new Board of Directors to the IPRS Board of Directors / Governing Council comprised of author, composer and music publisher members, were held on March 31st 2017 and subsequently as well.

The changes effected within IPRS were supported by both Associations of Lyric writers and Music Composers namely the Music Composers Association of India (“MCAI”) and the Screen Writers Association (“SWA”).

12. Who are the members of IPRS?
IPRS member classes comprise of Authors i.e. Lyricists and Music Composers as well as Publishers (i.e., music labels, music publishers and film producers).
13. How can Authors, Composers or Publishers apply to become members of IPRS?
(a) Access the membership form available on the IPRS website at – https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Member-Application-Form.pdf;
(b) Members can also choose to fill in the online membership form at – https://online.iprs.org/onlineBG/;
(c) Fill in, execute the Form and provide information and documents as detailed on – https://iprs.org/become-a-member/;
(d) File the application with IPRS and pay applicable fee;
(e) IPRS Membership Committee with the membership team will scrutinise the application and details;
(f) Completed and scrutinised forms are considered and accepted/ rejected by the Board on recommendation of the Committee and CEO;
(g) The Board’s decision on acceptance is ratified by the membership of IPRS at its Annual AGM.
14. What happens when an IPRS member i.e. and author member dies? Can legal heirs join IPRS?
Yes. IPRS’ policies allow for Legal Heirs of member to be brought in record in event of the passing of a member. Legal Heirs can also directly apply to join as legal heir members even if the author was not a member of IPRS. Members are also allowed the option of making nominations during their life time to ensure that their legal heirs continue receiving royalties pending resolution of legal formalities which can get cumbersome in India. Currently, in order to become a legal heir member, Legal heir member need to comply with the Probate laws / Succession laws, etc., however, IPRS has worked to further streamline this process.
15. Is it compulsory to join IPRS ?
No. There is no obligation on anyone to do so. But if you study these FAQs and IPRS website you will realize that in practice you will find individual administration quite impossible to do so. Additionally, authors royalty share cannot be collected by owners of copyright (where they are assignees of the Author) – this is a role exclusively accorded to a Copyright Society like IPRS. That is why the world-wide system of organizations for the collective administration of copyright was devised, which has stood the test of time having been founded in 1851. Today there are more than 230 CMOs operating worldwide allowing authors, composers and publishers unprecedented worldwide reach via IPRS.
16. What does IPRS mean by “Work Notification”? Why is this important?
IPRS issues licenses and/or collects royalties in respect of its song repertoire. Unless members register their individual repertoires with IPRS, IPRS will be unable to efficiently collect or distribute royalties in respect of its logged royalty collections from licensees. IPRS members are required to register their works with IPRS as per the different types of “Work notifications” forms provided on the IPRS website at – https://iprs.org/already-a-member/. IPRS also periodically advises members to update or provide their works to IPRS – https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Public_Notice_Assignment_Deed_Registration_of_Works.jpg
17. How does IPRS resolve conflicting claims of ownership, attribution of authorship etc between members of IPRS?
Paragraph 2.14 of the IPRS Distribution Rules / Scheme and Methods (available at https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/IPRS-Distribution-Rules.pdf) determines the process to be followed for dealing with disputes as to rights, works and shares of royalties. As per the policy once conflict is raised IPRS gives each member an opportunity to demonstrate its rights. Once works are placed into dispute, IPRS will require the claimants to take the works out of dispute by a court order / judgement or mutual settlement between the parties. Credits held in IPRS’ suspense account pending resolution of an ownership dispute are released for payment on proper notification of the dispute resolution. No interest accrues or is paid to the interested parties.
18. What does IPRS mean by the term “IPRS licence”?
The Company generally grants a “license” essentially a permission/ authorisation in writing enabling a user to exploit IPRS works. The IPRS license is usually a blanket Licences for a moderate annual or other charge which enables the holders thereof to comply with the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957. These licenses authorise the public performance, communication to the public by broadcasting, streaming or any other diffusion by wire or wireless of any of the millions of works which IPRS controls on its member’s behalf as well as on behalf of the members of its affiliated societies throughout the world.

In certain cases, ‘permits’ are issued for the use of the repertoire or of specific works at one performance or at a short series of performances.

An IPRS licence is necessary for any public performance/communication to the public of copyright music under its control regardless of the nature of the entertainment or the kind of premises at which the performance takes place and irrespective of whether a charge for admission is made.

Importantly in the context of licenses it is important to note that IPRS does not grant licenses in respect of the collection of member Royalty Right – if the Publisher/Owner is not a member of IPRS – but only collects Author/music composer member share with a clearance of such payment.

19. Who is required to secure/ obtain an IPRS licence ?
Generally any individual/entity exploiting IPRS works is required to secure a license from IPRS. In terms of the Copyright Act, 1957, the promoter/organiser of a live event which involves public performance of music, the owner of the premises at which the performance takes place and performers themselves have a responsibility to the owner of any copyright material that is used. Generally speaking, the Society does not licence performers but requires responsible proprietors of premises at which music is publicly performed or the promoters of musical entertainment events to secure licenses prior to exploiting IPRS works. IPRS license is also required for the performance/ communication to the public of literary and musical works incorporated in sound recordings during live events as well. Additionally, platforms which utilise music such as FM radio, television broadcasters, online streaming/OTT platforms, telecom/mobile players who are utilising music are required to secure a license from IPRS in respect of its repertoire and/or pay Author’s royalty share to IPRS in respect of IPRS author members only.

Just as purchasing a printed copy of a theatrical play that is in copyright does not entitle the purchaser to perform the play in public, so also the purchaser of a copy of a piece of music or of a commercial recording, does not entitle the purchaser to perform in public the work embodied in the copy or recording. It merely entitles him to perform the work in his domestic circle, where Performing Rights do not operate.

The Company’s licences cover both ‘live’ performances and performances by mechanical means, e.g. Juke boxes, Radio and Television sets, records players, background music devices, and so on. They are issued for numerous categories of premises, including cinemas, clubs, concert halls, dance hall, bingo halls, hotels, town halls, church halls, public houses, restaurants, shops, factories, universities, ships, aeroplanes, sports stadium and many others.

20. Does IPRS issue licenses and/or collect royalties for marriages?
No. IPRS does not collect royalties or issue licenses for marriages or social festivities associated with marriages as per the law in India which exempts such usage [Section 52(1)(zb) of the Copyright Act, 1957].
21. How are the IPRS licence fee/ Tariff rates fixed ?
The royalty charges payable by licensees (which are normally payable annually in advance) are calculated by IPRS under a series of carefully devised tariffs which take account of the different circumstances in which music is performed in the various categories of premises and classes of entertainment, the value of music to such venues or platforms, comparable license fees and other applicable parameters. The IPRS Tariff Scheme is available at- https://iprs.org/tariffs/.
22. How does one ascertain whether and to what extent members have assigned their rights to IPRS? Are assignment deeds available online?
Based upon IPRS’s new Constitution (i.e. the new AoA), IPRS approved new Assignment Deeds for its entire membership of Authors, Composers & Music Publishers. In excess of 4000 Assignment Deeds have already been executed by Author/Composer and Publisher Members. The new IPRS Assignment Deeds are in continuation of ALL the old Assignment Deeds(which continue to subsist until execution of the New Deed) and thereby ensure that Assignment Deeds do not suffer from discrepancies going forward.

By virtue of these deeds of assignment, IPRS is deemed as the “owner” of the copyrights as subsisting in such musical and literary works. The author and music composer agreements also exclusively authorise IPRS to collect their Author’s Royalty share.

The IPRS Assignment Deeds show the extent to which members have assigned their rights in favour of IPRS, and are available on the IPRS website, at https://iprs.org/assignment-deeds/.

23. How can one confirm if a song is within the IPRS repertoire
IPRS has made its song repertoire available to search by the general public at – https://iprs.org/songs/. In excess of 6,00,000 song titles are available for search on the IPRS Song database. The Song database is being updated constantly and consequently may not be exhaustive. If the song is not available on the song database, prospective licensee can right to IPRS to secure feedback and information.
24. How can a license be secured from IPRS?
Licensing forms are downloadable from the IPRS website at https://iprs.org/licences/. One can download a form either for live/DJ performances, or use the ‘General Licensing Form’. Alternately, one can also contact IPRS directly to discuss the form of license required for any specific purpose.

IPRS has a “No Cash” Policy to ensure transprency and boost digital payments to further the objectives of the Government of India – https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/No-Cash-Collection-Policy.pdf

25. If a license has already been obtained a license from the owner of the Sound Recording Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)/ or from Novex Communications. So why is license required from IPRS?
As per its Registration Certificate, IPRS has been registered to carry out the copyright business in ‘musical works’ and ‘literary works associated with the musical work’. On the other hand, private entities such as PPL and Novex administer rights in the sound recording.

When a song is played, both: (i) the sound recording as well as (ii) the underlying musical and literary works, get utilized, and separate licenses need to be taken for each category. While the first licence (for sound recording) can be obtained from owners of sound recordings, the latter licence (for the musical and literary works) must be obtained from IPRS alone if such rights owners are members of IPRS. IPRS only issues license on behalf of its copyright owner members and also collects authors royalty share on behalf of only its author and music composer members even if the copyright owner is not a member of IPRS.

26. Can a music label or film producer directly collect authors’ share of royalties from its licensees?
No! This will be illegal. IPRS has put out public notices on this aspect in the past as well- https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Public_Notice_Authors_Statutory_Right.jpg. The third and fourth provisos to Section 18 of the Copyright Act, 1957, which were inserted into the Act by the Amendment of 2012, clearly state that authors of literary/musical works may not assign their royalty rights to anyone except their legal heirs OR to a copyright society for collection and distribution (IPRS). It further states that any such agreement by an author to assign his/her royalty right to any other entity shall be void. Therefore, no other entity (such as a music label) other than the author member’s legal heir or IPRS, may collect the author’s royalty share.
27. Why does IPRS have to be paid royalties for songs owned by a music label or film producer who or that is not a member of IPRS?
If an author or music composer who has created the work in question is or are both members, IPRS will collect the Authors Royalty share as mandated by the Copyright Act, 1957 irrespective of whether the music label or film producer as the case may be is a member of IPRS. The law clearly mandates that only a registered Copyright Society, (i.e., IPRS) can administer the Right to receive Royalty on behalf of its author and music composer members.
28. What about the trend of ‘version recordings’, ‘remixes’ or ‘recreations’ which use the lyrics and music (or large part of these works) from the original song? Do the authors of the original lyrics and music stand to get credit and royalties from these ‘new songs’?
Yes! Absolutely! Let’s be clear – if the author of the original lyric and musical composition are not credited in the new song this will be a violation of the “Author’s Special Right” or Moral Right of the Author recognised under Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957. If on the other hand, the metadata/ works registration data does not include the original author and music composer this will violate the original authors right to receive royalty and will be actionable under the law. IPRS ensures that the original author of lyrics and music receive due credit within the IPRS system by encouraging original authors to make claims with IPRS. Such original authors will also receive their share of royalty along with the new authors equally from IPRS, subject to such original and/or new authors being members of IPRS of course.
29. How are royalties distributed by IPRS?
As the Company is a non-profit making body, all the royalties it collects are distributed to its members and affiliated societies after deduction only of its administration costs as allowed by law. The net royalties are distributed to the members as far as possible in accordance with the extent to which their particular works have been broadcast or publicly performed and as per the IPRS Distribution Rules/Scheme (available at https://iprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/IPRS-Distribution-Rules.pdf). The royalties apportioned to each work are then distributed among the interested members and affiliated societies in accordance with their contracts and with the Company’s Rules.

IPRS is allowed by the Copyright Rules, 2013 to deduct upto 15% on account of administrative expenses.

30. When does IPRS distribute royalties to its membership?
In line with the Copyright Rules, 2013, IPRS distributes royalties on a quarterly basis to its members.
31. What is the Berne Convention ?
This is an international Convention signed at the conclusion of a series of conferences held in Berne, to devise a system for the international protection of works of the Author. Its full title is “The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works”, and the signatory states of this Convention formed themselves into the so-called “Berne Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works”. The Convention established certain minimum standards of protection, and every signatory state undertook to ensure that its own national copyright laws would conform to those minimum standards.

Since the signing of the Berne Convention in 1886, the technological explosion of our century has brought many new and unforeseen ways of exploiting works of the Author, particularly music via the gramophone, the tape recorder, broadcasting, television, the video recorder, the computer, satellite transmission, internet and others. In order to keep pace with all these technological developments the Berne Convention has been revised at regular intervals, and it will continue to be so revised. This means that the copyright laws of the signatory states must also be regularly revised and brought into line with the latest developments.

32. Has anything changed with India becoming a part of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (‘WCT’) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (‘WPPT’)? Do member get additional rights of benefits?
India’s copyright law had already been amended in 2012 to align with these two treaties and provide protection to copyrights across the digital space. India’s accession to these two treaties will mean that copyright protection in the physical world will also be formalised and extended to the digital/electronic/online space on an international basis. As part of this treaty India now has the ability to secure protection for Indian works internationally in the digital domain as well.
33. Can someone else’s lyric be translated or be set to music without a license?
Not if the work is still protected by copyright law. One can make translations only if the author thereof has been dead for more than 60 years i.e. is the work is in ‘public domain’. If he is still alive, or if his death occurred less than 60 years ago, you must first obtain permission from him or from whoever owns the copyright in that lyric.

As explained in these FAQs, an author has the exclusive right to make or to authorise anyone else to make such an adaptation. This means that neither you nor anyone else may do so without his permission. Translating a lyric amounts to making an adaptation thereof, and the same applies to setting it to music. In both cases you require the permission of the copyright owner. However, this applies only to lyrics which are still in copyright-in other words, any lyric of which the author is still alive or has been dead for less than 60 years. If the author has been dead for longer than that, his lyric is “in the public domain” and you are at liberty to translate it or set it to music without further ado.

If you wish to translate or set to music a lyric which is still in copyright, and you do not know where to find the copyright owner, IPRS may be able to help you to get his address.

34. Is sampling music legal? Does this require a license? Isn’t there a rule which allows use of a few seconds of music or “8 bars” of music?
No. These are at best described as myths. Sampling as a general rule will amount to copyright infringement if it is unauthorised/ unlicensed. Courts normally follow the qualitative (rather than the quantitative) rule for assessing substantial reproduction in infringement cases. While to be clear each case is defined by its own facts and extent of use, the risk from copyright infringement claims certainly outweigh unlicensed use basis on some myths.