Copyright Society Registration and its Operational Norms

calendar11 Jan, 2022
timeReading Time: 8 Minutes
Copyright Society Registration and its Operational Norms

A copyright society refers to a society that comprises authors and other copyright owners of works where there is collective management of copyrights in addition to the apt administration and protection of copyrights. One of the core functions of such a society is to administer & regulate the grant of licenses and collections of royalties relating to the works on the owner’s behalf.

No individual or group shall be involved with said undertaking without being registered as a society under the provision of the prevailing Copyright Act. At the same time, that same does not restrain the owner in his/her capacity for doing the same.

As the name suggests, a copyright society refers to a collective society which is established u/s 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 and is, as cited above, set up authors/creators & other holders of such copyrights & is registered under the Central Government.

As per the Copyright Act, 1957[1], at least seven members are required to set up a copyright society in India. Generally, such a society is registered to perform undertakings in relation to the particular class of work.

Process for Registering Copyright Society in India

The following is the detailed process for registering a copyright society in India:

Any group of individuals, comprising seven or more authors or copyright’s owners set up to conduct business related to the grant or issuance of the license relating to any class of works for which it is registering may furnish an application to the Registrar of Copyrights on Form VIII.

Form VIII should be accompanied by the following documents.

  • An original application’s copy by which the applicant is incorporated or established
  • Permission of all the members enlisted in the application form to serve as members of the Governing body of the application,
  • A declaration comprising the applicant’s objectives, the bodies through which it shall perform its undertakings, and arrangement for auditing and accounting
  • An undertaking declaring that the instrument is set up or incorporated ensures the same to the Act’s provisions and these rules.

The registration timeline for a copyright society is for five years, which may be re-registered on a timely basis before the completion of said tenure via application filing with RoC under Form IX. But, discretion rests on the Government to re-register or renew the registration after considering the RoC’s report on the working of the copyright society under Section 36.

Conditions about Application Submission of Copyright Society

(1) Any group of individuals, having an autonomous legal status, backed by seven or more authors & other copyright’s owners (technically referred to as “the applicant”) setup for carrying the undertaking of granting licenses relating to rights or set of rights in particular categories of works may file with RoC an application in Form VIII for submission to the Central Government for availing authorization to carry on such business affairs and for its registration as a copyright society.

The Central Government may confer society registration for five years under sub-section (3A) of section 33.

An application for society registration under sub-rule (1) of rule 44 shall enclose the signature of Chairman, all other members serving Governing Council with such number of individuals elected from the Society’s members comprising equal no. of authors and other holders of right, if any, for the management of the copyright society and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the applicant (who need not be a member).

The business relating to the grant of license in respect of dramatic, literary, artistic, and musical work incorporated in a sound recording or cinematograph film shall be performed only via a copyright society operating u/s 33 of the Act.

Conditions relating to the grant of permission to engage with copyright business

(1) An applicant referred to in rule 44 for registration of it as a copyright society shall not be eligible to be considered for such registration unless—

(i) the instrument via which the applicant is incorporated or established creates a commitment on it to engage with the business of issuing license relating to a right or set of rights in the particular regime of works and other undertakings ancillary thereto; and

(ii) the applicant is willing to comply with the provisions of the Act and the Rules made thereunder.

(2) the applicant shall not conduct the business via transferring the rights of collection & royalty’s distribution relating to a right or set of rights in the particular regime of works to any other individual or copyright society:

Provided that said applicant might enter into an agreement with any overseas society managing rights corresponding to the right or set of rights managed by the applicant to entrust to such Society the management of any overseas nation of the right or set of rights managed by the applicant, or for managing in India the rights-managed in an overseas nation by such overseas Society under sub-section (2) of section 34 of the Act.

Order of Inquiry, Registration Suspension, & appointment of an Administrator

(1) If the Central Government, in a complaint of the RoC or a member of copyright society, has a legitimate reason that the copyright society is being administered in a way detrimental to the members’ interest or for non-compliance of guidelines u/s 33A, subsection (3) of section 35 & section 36 of the Act or any alteration made in the instrument by which the Society is incorporated or set up and registered by the Central Government, without prior notification to it shall render a compliant copy to the Society and prompt the Society to furnish a statement within 15 working days.

(2) if, post consideration of the statement provided by the Society, the Central Government is prima facie satisfied:-

(a) it shall order an inquiry under sub-section (4) of section 33 into the charges and appoint a designated officer, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the GOI for holding an inquiry. During such inquiry, if the Central Government observed that the member’s interest had been hampered, it may suspend the registration for a duration not surpassing one year, and shall appoint a designated manager to address the undertaking of the copyright society; or

(b) In view of the above, it may render the order of suspension of such a society for a duration not surpassing one year and appoint an official to deal with the undertaking of the copyright society and further release order for inquiry as per clause (a).

(3) The said official shall be an individual with adequate experience in the field of management or accounting of copyright matters.

Cancellation of a copyright society Registration

The registration of Society as such may be revoked by the government post granting the copyright society an opportunity of being heard, if —

(a) any of the detail enlisted in the registration application is, at any time, found to be invalid or misleading in any way; or

(b) post holding an inquiry by the said official, the Government is satisfied that-

  • the Society failed to ensure co-ordination with the inquiry official; or
  • the grievances against the Society are found to be legitimate; or
  • the copyright society is being handled in a way detrimental to the member’s interest; or
  • the Society continually fails to discharge its undertaking aptly; or
  • the Society failed to allocate the royalties in accordance with the scheme; or
  • the copyright society continually fails to ensure apt maintenance of its account; or
  • the Society leverages its funding for purposes other than those cited in the instrument; or

(c) the registered Society has not ensured adherence with-

  • section 33A of the Act relating to the publication of Tariff scheme by the Society; or
  • sub-section 3 of section 35 relating to the equal representation of authors and other owners of copyrights in the Governing Council as cited in rule 44; or
  • section 36 of the Act relating to the returns and reports submitted to the RoC by copyright society; or
  • the procedure for securing the consent of authors & other owners of right for accumulation and allotment of royalty; or
  • the Society is granting license relating to the right or set of rights in the particular regime of works for which it is not registered

Management of Copyright Society

(1) every copyright society must constitute management backed by-

(a) General Body comprising all the authors and other copyright owners or set of rights in a particular regime for which the Society has been registered to grant licenses;

(b) A Governing council backed by a Chairman & at least six other members; &

(c) A CEO (who may or may not be a serving member of the copyright society)

(2) The General Body shall take all the major decisions regarding Society’s business affairs. All the power required to administer the Society shall be with the General body & the Governing Council may function in accordance with the directions laid out by such a body.

(3) The Chairman shall be appointed by 2/3rd of the majority of all the members through a voting session that must be held at the General Body meeting of the Copyright Society.

(4) The Governing Council’s Chairman shall chair the General Body.

(5) The Chairman shall have the authority to vote in the Governing Council and the General Body.

(6) The members of the Governing Council shall represent equally from authors & other copyright owners, appointed from the General Body by the member’s majority present and voting in the General Body meeting of the Society

(7) The Chairman and other members serving Government Council shall be elected for two years. During this tenure, such members cannot be re-elected.

(8) The General Body may underpin sub-committees for drafting Distribution Scheme, Tariff Scheme, Welfare Scheme, & such other subject matter relating thereto, under the Governing Council’s supervision.

(9) The General body shall authenticate the Society’s instruments, including any subsequent changes made to it.

Records to be Handled by Copyright Societies

Every Society shall administer the given registers at its administrative office-

(i) A register of authors & other copyright owners (known as “Register of Authors and Other Owners”) relating to the right or the set of rights in the particular regime of works for which the Society has been empowered to grant licenses. The register shall entail the authors as well as the owners’ name, addresses, the nature of rights authorized to be managed by the Society, year of work’s publication, the date on which the Society become eligible to grant license, and the tenure of such entitlement, the scope for which the authorization has been granted and the rights that have been so granted;

(ii) A register to be acknowledged as “Register of Agreements” enclosing a copy of all agreement entered into by the Society with the authors & other right owners of the purpose;

(iii) A register to be acknowledged as “Register of Royalties” enclosing details of royalties and citing the name of individuals or entities and license agreements’ copy from whom the royalties have been realized, & the sum so realized including realization’s date;

(iv) A register to be acknowledged as the “Disbursement Register” enclosing particular of royalties made to each author or right owner or set of rights in the particular regime of works, systematically categorized, citing the author and other owner’s name, nature of the right, and the date and sum of allotment of royalty made to him.

Returns to be Filed by the Societies with the RoC

Every Society shall file a return known as an annual return with the RoC within 1 month from the conclusion’s date of each AGM setting out the given particulars, viz:

(i) The date of the AGM held promptly preceding the annual return’s filing, the no. of members who were present in the meeting, agenda, and the minutes of such meeting;

(ii) The up-to-date members’ list, their names as well as addresses as cited in the Register of Authors and Owners handled by the Society, as provided in rule 64;

(iii) Audited accounted relating to the copyright society;

(iv) The Distribution Scheme, Tariff Scheme, and other Schemes, if any;

(v) Annual report sanctioned by the General Body rendering full account of all undertakings during the year; &

(vi) The member’s list to whom royalties are not allocated and the reasons for same; and

(vii) The member’s list to whom royalties have already been allocated together with the amounts so distributed


Copyright Society serves a pivotal role for the author and owners who have secured copyright protection for their work. Society aids such individuals in the field of business regarding reaping fiscal benefits. Further, it also enables these individuals to be associated with foreign societies.

Read our article:8 Incredible Benefits of Copyright Registration in India

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