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ISRA Stands Optimistic Towards Receiving Artist Royalties from Streaming Platforms- Sanjay Tandon

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Known as the Copyright Man of India Sanjay Tandon, Co-founder and CEO, Indian Singer’s Rights Association (ISRA) has been strengthening the Music Royalty Collecting Society of India, (IPRS) -Indian Performing Right Society Limited for the past 14 years. Being the pioneer in creating a movement of Copyright Administration in India, Tandon has been instrumental in developing and nurturing IPRS from scratch to where it stands today.

With the provisional Act brought under his expert leadership in 1994, which the world adulates today Tandon throws light on the key facets of the WTTP 1996 Treaty and how India embarked a rather stronger way out to strengthen ‘Right to Royalty’ for singers at the 4th FIM International Conference on streaming organized by Musicians Federation on India in Mumbai, in an interesting conversation with Priyaankaa Mathur for

Talking about WPPT 1996 treaty and 23 years after its adoption and its application, Sanjay said, “In the year 1996 this treaty was finalized and made public by WIPO, though after 6 years only it was again subjected to rectification. The reason behind creating this treaty was to create rights for the singers since earlier in the Rome Convention, it was only with respect to the sound recordings and not with respect to the performers, the singers as artists. It was only after the treaty came in place that the world across the globe including India as a country started recognizing the contribution that an artist also makes to a song or a creation.”

Elaborating further Tandon added, “So if a song was created it was composed by a composer, written by a lyricist and published by a publisher and a music company would be the owner of the sound recording who all got paid and made money through their royalties. It was only the singers who really were suffering as their expression of the creation was not respected as an artist. In 1996 WIPO respected and said that they also need to be given the royalties, and so the world started looking into it.”

So how did the world reacted to the treaty, Tandon replied, “ In 1996 when the treaty came into existence, then the world  knew that they need to change their laws and every country started making their laws accepting to the WPPT 1996 treaty.”

How did India react to the treaty, “In India, we already did it before that and exceeded the WIPO treaty in 1994 even before it came into existence and strengthened it further in 2012. When I took over ISRA, I found and realized that India had not signed the WPPT, In turn, we had changed our law ahead of it and even made it stronger since our Act is one of the world’s finest Acts bringing the ‘Right to Royalty’ establishing the rights of Singers, and today the world including the USA is looking up to us.”

In the recent amendments to the Indian Copyright Act in 2012, certain provisions included Tandon’s expertise on the subject of copyright with his recommendations to bring in the desired amendments before the joint parliamentary committee.

Elaborating on the Act he further says, “This provision in the law gives the artists the rights, even if the artist has been exploited in the name of a work opportunity to get a song since the music labels make them sign contracts to give away all their rights. Unfortunately, now it has further deteriorated as an artist is putting his own money to create the content and has to give the labels money to release a song through their platform. So as per the law even in such situations the labels today have to pay the artist a royalty compulsorily.”

So will the law be applied to the streaming platforms in India,to which Tandon sounds optimistic and says, “They have to give the royalties in the due course of time, since the movement has started already and the artists are aware of their rights, and once the court passes an order everything will fall in place automatically since ISRA is working on it. The entire singer’s community today supports the movement to include eminent singers like Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik, S.P Bala Subramanium and KG Yesudas from the south,  all sounding in one voice to receive their royalties from every platform which plays their music.”

Talking about the movement held during IPL, “It happened during IPL and now all the sports events that are happening they all have to license with ISRA to play the songs. Also, the commercial venues need to license with us to play the songs on DJ. We have kept a very nominal fee per event since royalty is a right of a singer wherever the song is played they must receive a pie from the net earnings as per the Right to Royalty, although it is not big in amount, it is about the respect an artist deserves.”

Present on the occasion were John Smith President FIM UK, Ray Hair VP FIM UK, Geidy Lung Senior Counsellor Copyright law division WIPO, Ratish Tagde President MFI India, Kishore Jawade General Secretary MFI and eminent personalities from the indian music industry.

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