The Copyright Office vide public notice dated October 27, 2021, notified that the All India Film Chamber of Commerce (AIFCC) has filed an application for registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 for carrying out business of issuing or granting license in respect of creative works i.e., literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works incorporated in cinematograph films or sound recordings. The Copyright Office has invited objections from general public/ stakeholders within 30 days of publication of the notice. Read the public notice and application here and here.
What is All India Film Chamber of Commerce (AIFCC)?
The AIFCC is a Chennai based company incorporated on September 15, 2020. (We did not come across any website of the company or further information on the activities conducted by it other than its Facebook page.)
The application filed by AIFCC mentions in its ‘statement and concerns with copyright laws’ that its core aim is to deliberate to act as a special purpose vehicle between governments and film industry by providing means of knowledge about copyright laws and potentially influence policy decisions for film industry’s good, for which AIFCC created access to producers and technicians under one roof to protect their legal rights under Intellectual Property Right laws.
What will be the impact on the M&E industry if AIFCC is granted registration as a copyright society?
This seems to be the first instance where such a broad application has been filed for issuing or granting license in respect of all creative works i.e., all classes of underlying works in a cinematograph film/ sound recording.
This would entail that if AIFCC is granted registration as a copyright society it would be dealing with all four categories of underlying works incorporated in cinematograph film/ sound recording:
- Literary works- which could include Script, Lyrics, etc.
- Musical works- Music composition, background music, etc.
- Dramatic works- Choreography, stage plays, etc
- Artistic Works- Photographs, costume designs, etc.
Resultantly, royalties would be collected for authors and assignees of all these categories of works.
As per Section 35 of the Copyright Act, the copyright society should be under collective control of both authors and owners of the rights, whose right it administers. Based on the application filed by AIFCC it appears that it has producer, film director and other owner members within its governing body.
Currently, the following copyright societies are registered in India:
|Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS)||Musical composition and associated lyrics|
|Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA)||Performances (Performers rights )|
|Recorded Music Performance Limited||Sound recording|
|Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO)||
Reprographic rights in the field of literary works
The following applications were filed, status of which is not known:
|Screenwriters Rights Association of India (SRAI)||Class of work: literary and dramatic works such as story, script, screenplay, dialogues or any other literary works (excluding lyrics)
The Copyright Office had issued public notice inviting objections on October 27, 2020
Status of application unknown
|Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)||Class of work: sound recording
In an order dated May 25, 2021, passed by the Government, PPL’s application for re-registration as a copyright society under Rule 47 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 was rejected. PPL challenged the order and the matter is pending in the Delhi High Court
|Cinefil Producers Performance Limited (CPPL)||CPPL had applied for registration as a copyright society for cinematographic films.
The Copyright Office had issued a public notice on November 22, 2018.
Status of application unknown
|South Indian Music Companies Association (SIMCA)||As per information from sources, SIMCA’s application for registration as a copyright society was rejected by the Copyright Office.|
The existing copyright societies in India have not yet seen the light of a full-fledged implementation of the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012. There are ongoing disputes in relation to publishing royalties as well as performers royalties. Application of SRAI for writers’ society has not yet been accepted for reasons unknown. In such a scenario, if a copyright society is registered for such a broad category of underlying works chaos is bound to ensue.
As detailed in my post here on the flawed copyright amendment of 2012, the verbiage of Section 19(9) and (10) of the Copyright Act does not contain restrictive language on non-assignment or waiver of right to receive royalties by the authors of literary and musical works as provided in Section 18. As a result, it could be interpreted that with respect to works other than literary and musical works i.e., artistic, and dramatic works, there is no restriction on taking waiver/ assignment of the right to receive royalties. This has resulted in agreements for authors of dramatic and artistic works such as a choreographer agreement (dramatic work) or a costume designer agreement (artistic work), having language on waiver or assignment of royalty rights.
One could also argue that the legislative intent behind the royalty related provisions under Section 18 and 19 were intended only for literary and musical works incorporated in cinematographic films/ sound recordings and did not intend to cover other underlying works.
It would thus be interesting to see as to how royalty compliances for all underlying works would be implemented by AIFCC should it receive registration as a copyright society.
The Government in the last few years has called for several stakeholder meetings to discuss the various aspects pertaining to registration of multiple copyright societies as opposed to single copyright society in a single class of work. Read our posts here and here. The industry has been divided on this issue. Those in favour of multiple societies for same class of work are of the view that competition is necessary and users should have choice of multiple societies to avoid monopolistic practices being carried by a single society. Particularly, regional players have been demanding for creation of multiple societies for same class of work.
The Government is bound to receive several objections against registration of AIFCC as a copyright society. It would have to be seen whether the Government is convinced on the necessity to have a single copyright society dealing with all underlying works and particularly focused on the South Indian regional film and music industry.