Preventing Piracy and Copyright infringement: Blaise Fernandes – IPRS

Preventing Piracy and Copyright infringement: Blaise Fernandes

Taking on a malaise like copyright infringement and piracy has been a long-standing issue and an onerous task for copyright societies the world over. More often than not due to lack of adequate support, limited perseverance & knowledge they have had suboptimal results. It is therefore heartening to hear more voices and opinions to combat this ailment that has deprived many of their royalties and due credits.

While fighting for a just cause was never easy, merging forces with common crusaders makes the job easier.

The IPRS has always been at the vanguard of helping composers, authors and publishers get their material and artistic dues while staying on the right side of the law. With one of the biggest crusaders of copyright usage in the digital and the physical world IMI also underlining the same noble philosophy, there’s ample reason to now believe that the fight against piracy and Copyright infringement will be fortified with renewed vigour.

In a discussion with IPRS, Mr. Blaise Fernandes, President & CEO of IMI, expounded on its role in the preservation of Copyright and also lauded the role of the IPRS in doing its bit toward protecting the rights of songwriters and related copyright issues.
Here are some excerpts

What’s the IMI Agenda for the new fiscal year 2022-23?

Fiscal years will come and go but our three-point agenda at IMI will always be unlocking value for our stakeholders through advocacy of free market economics, protection of copyright and advocacy against misuse of copyrighted content both in the digital and physical world, and working closely with the creative sector in the music ecosystem to ensure India reaches greater heights on the global music stage. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all boats.

How has Strumm expanded over the years?

Essentially we remain in the same music content space as our early years but with a few necessary tweaks. We started off with three categories Youth, Devotional and various kind of fusion and easy listening vocal and instrumental music. We have since gone on to record Karnatak Kriti and instrumental music. We also realised that there’s a staggering amount of content to explore in the Indian devotional category. I can say with some amount of pride that Strumm are the pioneers of youth oriented devotional music in India.

Could you be more specific on working together with the creative sector and on rising tide raises all boats?

Look no further, IPRS is the poster child both in India and globally where authors, composers, lyricists and publishers have come together, sorted out their various differences and that’s always a work in progress dynamic. The numbers are there for all to see, the growth is exponential. Congratulations to Mr. Akhtar, the board and the CEO Rakesh Nigam for pulling off this huge success. IPRS has done this against headwinds. Once those headwinds change into tailwinds then the flight trajectory will be at a higher level.

Can you please elaborate on the phrase “headwinds changing into tailwinds’ in the context?

It all boils down to the simple premise- respect for copyright and unlocking the economic value and non-economic value of copyrighted work. IMI works closely with all stakeholders and in this connection both IPRS and IMI champion the cause of respect for copyright.  Respect for copyright is not only about economic value. There is a soft power component and we have also seen recently in the pandemic, music is a form of therapy. We always knew that music is therapeutic but the pandemic has reinforced how it has helped consumers mentally. Please do read our latest report Digital Music Study 2021 (link here) which expands on this further.

The IMI has been at the forefront of publishing reports and there have been many reports that IMI has published. What is the rationale behind publishing these reports?

It is the lack of understanding both within and outside India about how Indian music industry functions – both from the creative output and the business model perspective. The objective is to educate and inform all stakeholders and policy makers on these constructs and trends.

Can you give us a few examples of Constructs or Trends that you are working on right now?

One such construct is Value Gap. To elaborate- these are short form content interactive platforms paying stakeholders market value for the used copyrighted content. In terms of trends, IMI-charts is an example of what consumers are listening to in India. Charts are also a form of discovery for the consumer. As an example- CKAY’s love nwantiti (feat. Axel & DJ Yo) – also shows how open a society we are that even a track from Nigeria can stay at #1 for 14 consecutive weeks. It also gives us hope that in the digital era the world is a stage and we hope that someday soon a track from India will be dominating the global charts.

Last question, any predictions on market growth?

We have just scratched the surface. India can be amongst the top 10 both on the IFPI and CISAC annual list if we can change the headwinds to tailwinds. But if that has to happen, then the bottom-line – respect for copyright- remains is a must.