Impact of Copyright of Songs on Economy

calendar18 Sep, 2023
timeReading Time: 10 Minutes
Impact of Copyright of Songs on Economy

One of the world’s major entertainment industries is thought to be located in India. One of the fastest-growing industries in India, this one has recently seen a huge surge in growth. In the modern day, music has merged seamlessly into everyone’s life and has grown to be a significant component of the entertainment business.  Along with becoming a major form of entertainment, people are starting to express themselves through music. Music styles frequently change as society does. One of the biggest challenges the music industry has is the issue of piracy. Copyright of songs is a crucial component of intellectual property rights (IPR), which safeguards some of the rights of creators of creative works. 

Copyright is defined as an exclusive right over the information or work, as well as the power to perform or authorise the performance of any work, in Section 14 of the Copyright Act of 1957. The music business has long made observing copyright regulations a top concern. It provides artists and other music creators with protection from having their work utilised without their permission and a way to be rewarded for their labour.

This blog delves into the complex subject of copyright of songs, giving light to their importance as economic rights. The author has provided a complete grasp of copyright law and its ramifications for authors and users by delving deeply into elements such as reproduction, performance, public transmission, display, lending, and distribution rights.

Copyright of songs in Indian

The Indian Copyright Act of 1957 was greatly influenced by the copyright rules of our colonisers, the British. Not only was the derived version unclear in its language, but it was also unusual in the still-developing Indian music industry. Since 1957, various interpretations of copyright in musical works have been given. Under the initial act, only the composer of the song had copyright in the musical work; however, with the act being amended in 1994, the scope of the definition was expanded to include “work consisting of music and any graphical notation but does not include any words or actions intended to be spoken.” This modification was more inclusive and well-suited to the Indian music industry context.

In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, the creator of the copyrightable work is the initial owner of the copyright originating from the work, according to the act. The Indian Copyright Laws have evolved through time to provide separate rights to their rightful owners, ranging from lyricists to bands of musicians, all of whom have their rights protected under current copyright law. 

Music law in India

The Copyright Act of 1957 is the key legislation that protects the interest of a musician in the country. It was last modified in 2022. Needless to note, the revision complies with India’s international obligations. India is a signatory to the Bern Convention. Due to such international duties, any literary, artistic, theatrical, or musical work published in India will be treated the same in the other member nations that are signatories to the aforementioned accords. 

In terms of music, the recent 2012 Amendments favour artists by granting greater ownership authority to songwriters, composers, and musicians rather than record labels and producers in the Indian film business. These modifications ensure that the song’s creators own the copyright, and they are required of all broadcasters. Broadcasting the song in order to pay the required royalties to the song’s authors. Another notable modification brought about by the 2012 Amendment is that a cover version of a song can only be recorded after five (5) years have passed since the song’s first recording.

The music industry, whether in India or elsewhere, gets backing from the three pillars listed below:

  1. The Creators, i.e. the song’s vocalists, songwriters, composers, and producers.
  2. The Release Platforms, which include labels, DIY Musician apps, distribution and streaming platforms, are the means by which the song is made available for consumption.
  3. The platform for consumption, such as digital retailers, music television channels, the radio, and live and public performances.

In India, the creators of the song must select the appropriate platform to release their work based on their money, investment, fan base, and experience with the industry.

As an example: It is always recommended that rookie and inexperienced musician release their music through independent, streaming, and do-it-yourself channels rather than pitching their work to a label. An artist with the ability to invest, a setup, a fan base, and a release plan, on the other hand, may approach a label to launch his work.

So, when we evaluate the components of a song that give rise to distinct rights, we can divide them into three categories:

  • The lyricists, composers, and producers write the lyrics and compose the music. These are collectively known as publishing rights, and they are owned by the individual.
  • When a song is performed by an artist, it becomes a song. As a result, the performer/artist or musician owns the performance rights. The 2012 modification included Section 33 of the Copyright Act, which discusses Performance Rights Organisations (PROs), which collect royalties for the artist’s performance.
  • A recording of the performance must be produced in order for a song to be stored in a tangible media. The producers and record labels own the rights to these recordings. These are referred to collectively as Master Rights.

Extracts from the law

Section 2(p) of the Copyright Act of 1957 defines a musical work as a work consisting of music and including any graphical notation of such work but excluding any words or action intended to be sung, spoken, or performed with the music.

In accordance with Indian Copyright Laws. Economic rights are referred to as exclusive rights. They are also known as negative rights because the owner has the right to prevent and negate others from exploiting their bundle of works/rights. The following six categories of exclusive rights are available to the creator of a work under Section 14 (a) of the Copyright Act:

  • The right to reproduce the work;
  • The right to make translations and adaptations of the original work;
  • The right to make copies available to the public;
  • The right to communicate with the general public, and so on..

Section 14(e) of the Act also discusses the rights that anyone who creates or owns a sound recording possesses, which are as follows::

  • Right to create any sound recording which encapsulates the original one;
  • Right to sell any copy of the sound recording, or give it on rent, or offer it for sale or hire;
  • Right to communicate the work to the public.

Section 17 specifies who is considered the first owner of a copyrighted work. It states that an artistic, literary, or dramatic work created by the author in the course of employment by the proprietor or under a contract for the purposes of publication in a newspaper, magazine, or similar periodical will vest with the proprietor in the absence of any contrary provision, but will vest with the author for all other purposes.

The act also grants the creators certain moral rights, which are specified in Section 57, and the act has established certain specific rights for the writers, which exist even after the transfer of the copyright. They are also exercisable by the author’s legal representatives and include the right to claim authorship of their work, the right to restrain or claim damages in the event of any distortion, mutilation, or other modification to their work, and the right to object to anything done with the work that is detrimental to the author’s honour or repute.

Section 22 of the Copyright Act discusses the time period under copyright law[1], stating that a musical composition is protected throughout the author’s lifetime until sixty (60) years from the beginning of the next calendar year after the year in which the creator dies. For anonymous works, the copyright duration is sixty (60) years.

Section 33 of the Act discusses royalties and names the following organisations:  

To begin, the Indian Performing Rights Society, or IPRS, manages rights to musical and lyrical works on behalf of their creators. This covers licences granted to businesses that allow singers to perform on their premises.

Second, on behalf of its owners, Phonographic Performance Limited, or PPL, manages the right to economically exploit such works, phonograms, or sound recordings. The licences are given to establishments such as cafes and restaurants that want to play music on their premises.

Nota bene: The primary duty of these societies and agents is to protect the rights of the song’s artists/creators by issuing licences to corporations and other individuals for the exploitation of these rights. These societies and agents collect a license/tariff fee on the creators’ behalf and then pay them royalties after deducting their own collection and cost expenses.

The Act specifies that the only legal way to transfer music copyright is through the sale, assignment, or licencing of the Copyright. 

The Impact of Copyright of Songs on the Economy

According to the US Chambers of Commerce’s Intellectual Property (IP) Index, India ranks 42nd out of 55 main global economies. According to this, India is ready to take the lead among emerging markets seeking to transform their economies through IP-driven innovation. The Index analysis includes everything from patent and copyright legislation to the capacity to capitalise IP assets and international agreement ratification.

One of the distinguishing elements of copyright registration is the “social benefit” concept. While the cost of creating a copyrighted work, such as a book, film, music, dance, lithography, map, trade book, or computer software, is often high, the cost of copying the piece, whether by the author or by those to whom he has made it public, is frequently low.

Furthermore, once files are made available to others, generating fresh copies is often inexpensive for these customers. Others are discouraged from making copies if the author’s reproductions are priced at or close to variable costs. However, the creator’s overall income will be insufficient to cover the expense of producing the piece.

Intellectual property, or the power of the landlord to prevent others from making a replica of a product, measures the costs of restricting access to a task against the importance of providing incentives to develop it in the first place. The main challenge with copyright is striking a balance between accessibility and incentive. To be economically efficient, the major legal ideas of copyright law must, at least roughly, maximise the benefits of creating new works while minimising both the loss from restricting access and the expenses of managing intellectual property protection.

The issue of “non-excludability” in artistic work is well known. Once launched, books, music, TV shows, and photographs are inexpensive to reproduce and distribute, restricting the rights holder’s ability to extract the value of her product in many cases. This, according to economics, will diminish the possibility to conceive, perform, and produce films. As a result, the law grants limited ownership and performing rights to many sorts of artistic activity. 

How does it work?

Copyright gives the owner of the property a brief period of legal exclusivity during which she can prevent others from replicating, performing, displaying, or developing derivatives of her works and hence demand market profits above marginal costs. The question of canonical legislative design is raised by this regulatory mechanism: How long does a patent have to be valid? The concept of protection has long been a source of contention in public policy. Although the issue has garnered significant scholarly attention in both economic and legal works of literature, much of the debate has occurred in the political domain.

Despite this lengthy argument, there has been little information offered about the financial ramifications of commercial copyright objection material. However, this is a key threshold issue from a theoretical standpoint. Copyright, like other intellectual property (IP) laws, is ostensibly designed to encourage the development of artistic content. Individual creators or potential copyright owners, on the other hand, are only eligible for the reward during the period in which they anticipate their work will be marketable. With surprisingly little complex information, this comprehensive data creates a number of practical issues.

How frequently does the economic viability of a certain protected content last? What is the typical turnaround time for a creative, artist, or intermediate on whatever?

To provide new insight into these issues, we use a novel database from the corporate music industry to track purchases and streamed rates over time. Because music is a highly IP-intensive industry, it is a vital test case for the link between intellectual concerns and equitable viability. In a supplementary study, several of us discuss the theological implications of the findings. That study concentrated on the normative implications of an economic viability term that was far shorter than the current copyleft licence in the United States. We go deeper into theory and research in this post. We also go over a number of extensions, such as the role of “best-selling” recordings and the ongoing method.

The main argument is that copyright and “anti-piracy” in music aren’t about incentivizing musicians to create great music. But, as shown, these incentives are ample and more than adequate to meet the constitutional obligation of fostering growth.

Ownership and “anti-piracy” are about wealthy people and organizations profiting at the cost of the general public. Being greedy isn’t always a good thing.


Innovation is critical to a country’s economic growth and development. When combined with effective intellectual property and patent-protection laws, it can help inventors and researchers in nations like ours climb the global ladder as well.

Furthermore, in the digital age, where creativity and content are crucial to the information economy, understanding intellectual property rights, particularly copyrights, is more important than ever. Copyright law defines the rights that protect our creations and how they affect the economics of creativity.

The Indian music industry has been a breeding ground for some of the most recognised musicians. According to Indian copyright law, any person who derives unjust enrichment from the work of others should not be allowed to benefit from it; thus, the right of authors to receive royalties and benefits should be protected, and cases of commercial exploitation of an author’s work should be followed by him receiving credit for the same in addition to the payment of royalties.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

Who owns the intellectual property in Music India?

In India, the composer, lyricist, or songwriter owns the first copyright in music. Ownership, on the other hand, can be transferred or shared through agreements.

Can I legally utilise copyrighted music in India?

In general, in order to utilise copyrighted music in India, you must seek permission from the copyright owner or licence the song through a copyright society or other authorised methods.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright protects following type of works- • Original Literary Work • Original Dramatic work • Original Musical work • Original Artistic Work • Cinematography films, and • Sound recordings

Is copyright inclusive of economic rights?

Yes, economic rights are included in copyright. These rights enable the owners of the copyright to profit financially from the use of their works by others. Economic rights often include the right to reproduce the work, perform or broadcast it, adapt it, and distribute it to the public through sale, rental, or other types of transfer.

How can I determine whether a song is copyrighted?

Copyright protects any original song or musical work that is fixed in a physical medium (such as a recording or sheet music). This protection normally lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years. Any song you hear on the radio or any major streaming platform is most certainly copyrighted. If you are doubtful, use databases maintained by music rights organisations or the United States Copyright Office. In terms of verifying copyright status, India lacks a centralised copyright registration database analogous to the US Copyright Office.

What songs are copyright free?

Songs that are copyright-free are often referred to as being in the public domain. This includes songs where the copyright has expired, songs that were created before copyright law existed, or songs that have been explicitly donated to the public domain by the copyright holder. A notable example is classical music composed by artists like Beethoven or Mozart; these works are in the public domain and can be freely used. However, be careful: while the compositions themselves are in the public domain, specific recordings of those compositions might still be protected by copyright.

How do YouTubers use licenced music?

Copyrighted music can be used in YouTube videos by getting licences or permits from the copyright owners, utilising music covered by Creative Commons licences, or depending on the YouTube Audio Library, which contains a collection of copyright-cleared music.

What exactly is the copyright society?

Section 33 of the Copyright Act of 1957 defines a copyright society as a registered collective management society. Authors and other owners establish such a society. A copyright organisation can issue or award licences for any work for which the authors or owners have given permission.

Is it required to register a work in order to assert copyright?

To claim copyright, an author is not necessary to register his work. Copyright exists as soon as the original work is created, and no more formalities are required to acquire copyright. To avoid repeated claims, it is best to register a work for copyright. In a court of law, a copyright registration acts as prima facie evidence of ownership of the copyright work.

Read Our Article: Emerging Trends In Digital Copyright Law

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