Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Copyright Amendment Bill and Royalties- Whose Share is it Anyway?

The Copyright Amendment Bill, that saw its way ahead to be included as a part of the existent Copyright legislation, causes me more worry than lending comfort. What is most astounding is that there are several who believe that Bollywood has in fact been victorious by having the Bill passed at both the Houses of Parliament. 

In my eyes, it is their own doom’s day! Javed Akhtar’s ecstatic speech is available here. On one hand, the apparent motive for bringing the amendment, with respect to royalty sharing is claimed to be the number of erstwhile music directors, lyricists etc. who did not get their due share, and whose families now remain in poor financial state. 

However, I wonder how the Parliament plans to enforce the provision “retrospectively”, considering that Bollywood celebrates its centenary this year.  To my eyes, this is a case of crying “Wolf! Wolf!”. While several legendary names are being propagated as the reason for the need for such a royalty-sharing provision, it appears that the real beneficiaries may only be today’s interested parties. The Copyright Act has a provision governing “work done in the course of employment “ and “work for hire”. 

The manner in which work is undertaken in the film industry, being “work for hire” is clearly contractual in nature. In this view, any and all terms including royalty are negotiable- a situation similar to that existent amongst authors and publishers. In this light, I fail to see the basic need to move for such an amendment- clearly it is only with the motive of securing the position of certain “interested parties”, who do not (atleast on the face of it) settle for a financially lopsided deal.

This having been said, I wonder why the Parliament, in spite of having some eminent lawyers on board, chose to ignore this. I wonder now, if inventors, (perhaps through some one as well- liked as Dr. Kalam) have their demand for royalty-sharing voiced. After all it is just fair, that everyone gets a due piece of the pie...

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