May 21, 2012 Y. Sunita Chowdhary
The Rajya Sabha had passed the Copyright Amendment Bill, after the Congress leadership and the leader of Opposition, Arun Jaitley came together to back the long-pending legislation. The amendments to the Copyright Act, 1958, seek to assign rights to 'creative artistes' such as lyricists, playback singers, music directors and dialogue writers, along with film directors, involved in a cinematic production.
Following the amendments, these artistes stand to earn a royalty each time the film is aired on a television channel. Let us see what Trivikram Srinivas, Chandra Siddhartha, Chaitanya Prasad have to say on the royalty which will soon become a reality.
Dialogue Writer Trivikram Srinivas: When a girl is married and sent to her in-laws house, you are sure she will visit her parents' home some day but here you finish working for a film and you are paid, you won't have any connection with the production house till you are summoned again. This Bill will establish a connection that will facilitate a discussion.
Just not creative artistes, all those people who have made great films and have sold the satellite rights have lost all forms of ownership. I feel even a producer who decides that a particular hero and a director should work together is also a part of a creative process.
There's a negative side to everything, a person trying to find a loophole will find many, but just because a percentage of people are misutilizing the Bill, it isn't fair to blame the entire institution or system, we should note that there are also people who receive it with positivity, let's work towards reducing that percentage that acts as a deterrent.
I have known writers who sit in neighboring rooms and write for the same film and don't get credit for being associate writers. Such writers when they see their dialogue on screen can only claim that the dialogue was theirs to the family. To break this I write for only one film or two films per year.
When a writer and a producer get into an agreement, from now on, there will be respect/value towards their work and the producer will not do anything that will hurt the writer's interest. He will have a fear. Everything is on paper and automatically the percentage of the problems in the producers and writers council will be solved. Problems arise because there are no agreements.
I had to forego my remuneration for Athadu because the producer said it went over budget. Now I hear the film which is being played countless times has been sold for 3 crores for a television channel. I forgot about it and I'm going ahead with my work but what about those filmmakers of films like Mayabazar and Narthanasala who died of penury, won't this Bill benefit their families every time a song is aired or the film is telecast? What you draw as remuneration is immaterial but the thousand bucks you get from a lottery gives you a kick, don't you think so?
Director Chandra Siddhartha: This is a long drawn and an impossible process. No one is sure of the address of the creative people, where the producer had sold and to whom, there will be debates on variation on the royalty they would be drawing, etc. In an industry where remunerations are not paid properly, which are given on good will basis and many a time producers go back on their word, fetching a royalty for the creative work seems a bit far fetched idea.
For example a producer tells the technician to take ten lakhs and wait for the 25 percent share he will be given after the film releases. The latter has no faith and tells the producer to give him an additional five lakhs and he is willing to forget about the share, he has no faith and he is justified. This Bill will create an extra job to keep track of who's drawing what and how to see the royalty reaches the creative people. I don't see any uniformity and transparency, AR Rehman will get one amount and Anup Rubens another.
The television people will be disgruntled, when they have given five crores for procuring satellite rights and for telecast for infinite times why will they give royalty to the creative people all over again? A music director who is being paid ten lakhs will henceforth be paid less by the producer and will be asked to collect the 'chillar' amount as installments from royalty. This is not being implemented properly in US too, only the top few pop singers are benefitted.
Lyricist Chaitanya Prasad (had written a song for Eega): Forget royalty, no one at the FM or on the television have the courtesy to mention or give the credits to the people who created the song, there is no karta, karma, kriya. Earlier AIR or some government channel would do it. Keeravani once raised his voice and asked if a song is an orphan, talli tandri vundara?
Despite all the loopholes I welcome the move, because so far only other person other than the creator of the song have benefited innumerable times which is not fair. I heard there is an association in Chennai that gives royalty to the lyricists who are members. The television people are using the songs for lampooning, for political publicity and campaigning. I heard the Jai Ho rights were taken by the Congress but for other songs, the writer, singer, musician none have a connection to the benefit accrued.
If the Bill comes into force, all kind of ambiguity will be erased, even the audio company will stand to gain. No one remembers the audio company's name these days.
Playback Singer RP Patnaik: In Hyderabad, in discotheques and pubs, public functions and fashion shows when ever a music is played a group comes and charges money for the purpose of distributing to the correct person but we don't know where the money is going, we never receive it and mind you the amount is big. The Indian Performing Rights Society and some three more societies insist on registration and have taken the responsibility to hand over the royalty, Ghantasala's wife is still drawing the benefits of the creative work.
When creative rights is not a one time activity why should the creator be left out of it? One is not bound to be financially sound always. My Gajuwaka Pilla is still being played after 11 years in pubs but it is the audio companies who are encashing it because they have all the agreements, mobile and virtual. I believe this Bill will do justice to all musicians and singers and the people who might stand to lose are the audio companies. These people show declining sales in audio CDs but conceal the sales the virtual sales. I wonder how it will be implemented and I have my doubts on the bureaucracy, we will be encouraging middle men but ultimately we should note that an artist is never in healthy state and any small help will be a blessing.