In the last Article MW 1.05, finally the question asked was – For administrating the author’s and owner’s musical or literary work ( for that matter any work) , how the registered Copyright societies can ask to sign the assignment and license deeds ? Practically in India , exceptions may be there but generally all rights are assigned by the authors to the producers in the initial stage of producing the Cinematographic films or sound recording work. But the intriguing question is , why authors are asked to sign assignment or License agreements with copyright societies when it’s a known fact in the industry that they are not having any rights with them!
Worldwide, one of the important activity in generating the revenues by authors and owners is by administrating the rights through Copyright collective administration societies. And for administrative purpose , only authorisation letters are executed with the registered societies which becomes the contractual obligation and not any assignment or licence agreements with the copyright societies.
Along the same lines , In India , Section 34 (1)(a) of Copyright Act 1957 read with Rule 54 of Copyright Rules 2013 specifically provides for accepting exclusive authorisation to administer any right in any work for issuance of license pursuant to Section 34 (3)(i) of Copyright Act 1957. Here statute has provided for withdrawal provisions also for owners and authors with the condition that such withdrawals should be without prejudice to the rights of the Copyright society under any contract. Therefore, this withdrawal is not any permission to authors or other owners or to their agents to intimidate the users and to collect the license fees. Students are advised to read Section 34 of Copyright Act 1957 read with Copyright Rules 2013 carefully and whenever reading the provisions , always to remember that Copyright is a Government granted monopoly for a limited period of time in which authors and owners are given “exclusive rights” (not absolute rights) with restrictions / fair use exemptions / compulsory and statutory licensing.
Importantly , post the copyright amendment 2012 submitting and executing authorisation letter with the copyright societies by the authors will be very critical because authors have the right to receive the royalty which cannot be waived even if they have assigned all the rights to the producer pursuant to Section 18 & 19 of the Copyright Act 1957. Further , if right to receive the royalties by authors for the utilisation of such work in any form is missed out or anything contrary to the statutory requirement then the whole agreement will become void. Please note , with the insertion of section 30A in the Copyright amendment 2012 the provision of section 19 on mode of assignment shall with any necessary adaptations and modifications will apply in relation to a license under section 30 as they apply in relation to assignment of copyright in a work. Therefore, any crafting in the agreement to avoid the royalty payable to authors then the question of maintainability of the suit will arise forthwith.
As per this article is concerned , not explaining the functioning of Collective Administration societies on collection and distribution but the same will be addressed in detail in subsequent articles. However, for basic understanding of Musical work, students are advised to revise the points explained in MW series 1.01 to to 1.05.
Therefore, on requirement of authorisation letter submitted to Copyright Societies by the author and owner , as such “Users” are concerned “Doctrine of Indoor Management” can be invoked because the registration is granted by the Central Government to a Company incorporated under the provisions of Companies Act and it’s assumed that authorisation letters are given by authors and owners to the registered copyright societies to establish their respective authorship / ownership. Therefore two parallel statutes are in operation . One is Companies Act 1913 wherein the entity formed is a special purpose vehicle and the second is the operations of the provisions of Copyright Act 1957. Further it will be presumed that for internal administration purpose the governing body (the Board) or any committee thereof has taken the necessary affidavits and declarations in connection to the authorisation letter , strictly in accordance with the law.
Hence , it’s not the responsibility of the “Users” to chase where and who are the are authors or owners / legal representatives, what are their deals in last sixty years with multiple transfers of rights that would have taken place, as such authors are concerned from the date of death to sixty years to examine whether they have entered “of” or “for” contracts, which are the penultimate transactions tracing the link documents etc. Therefore , because of above justified reasons , Copyright societies got introduced under Chapter VII of the Copyright Act 1957 for having single window clearances for public convenience in which the authors and owners come together in one platform for their respective “Work” collective administration.
Further, to streamline any disputes in functioning of Copyright societies or to address any anomaly arising thereof the quasi judiciary body is the Copyright Board and even for any reasons it’s not functioning , Central Government has enormous power u/s Section 78 of the Copyright Act which can be invoked by issuing necessary notifications from time to time.
Next Article is on issuing of licenses by Agents ? When the owners are barred from issuing licenses individually and there exist a restrictive statutory proviso that business of issuing or granting license in respect of literary , dramatic , musical and artistic works incorporated in a cinematographic films or sound recordings shall be carried out only through a copyright society duly registered under Act , then in the given statutory limitations, can an Agent collect the license from users ? Again the same question. Are they above law if they are collecting !! ………….to be continued