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Role of Copyright societies in India

Role of Copyright societies in India

The copyright societies have an important role in the collective management of copyright. They are legal bodies that serve the interests of the copyright owners, users as well as the public. The Supreme Court in Entertainment Network Ltd. v. Super Cassette Industries Ltd. observed that copyright creates a monopoly in favour of the author and the copyright society. Authors are encouraged to create works of literature, music and art if their work is protected against lawful reproduction by others for longer durations.

When an author becomes a member of a copyright society, the society due to its strength and facilities overlooks the uses made by others throughout the country and collects due royalty from the users of those works. Since, India is a member of international conventions, the copyright societies of India is able to have reciprocal agreement with similar societies of different countries.

Formation of Copyright Societies

A copyright society is a registered collective administration under section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Such a society is formed by authors and owners. A minimum of seven members are required for the registration of a society. Generally, only one society can be registered to do business in the same class of work.

The business granting license in respect of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic or other works that form the subject matter of copyright can be only carried out through a registered copyright society that is registered under this act. It is a kind of compulsory collective licensing for managing performers rights.

The term of registration for such a society is for five years and can be renewed every five years on a request in a prescribed form. The renewal of the registration of a copyright society is subject to continued collective control of the copyright society being shared with the authors of the works in their capacity as copyright owners or having the right to receive royalty.

Functions of Copyright Societies

  1. Copyright societies may issue licenses and collect fees on the following grounds:
  • A copyright society may issue licenses and collect fees in accordance with its scheme of tariffs related to only such works that have been authorised to administer in writings by the authors or copyright owners for a specified time period.
  • Not more Fifteen percent of the fees collected for the purposes of distribution shall be subject to a deduction on account of administrative costs incurred by the copyright society.
  1. Administration of rights of owners by copyright society:
  • A copyright society may accept from an author or the owner an exclusive authorisation to administer any right in any work by issuing licenses.
  • The author or the owner will have the right to withdraw such authorisation without prejudice from the copyright society under any contract.
  • The Copyright societies are competent to enter into an agreement with any foreign organisation or society under this act provided there is no discrimination in relation to the terms and conditions of the license between the Indian or foriegn nationals.
  1. Records to be maintained by the copyright society:
  • Every copyright society will maintain a register of authors and other owners for which the copyright society authorised to issue or grant licenses.
  • The copyright society must maintain separate registers for agreements, royalties and disbursements.
  1. Meeting of copyright societies:
  • Every copyright society must hold a General Body Meeting of all its members before the 31st day of March each year.
  1. Distribution Scheme:
  • A copyright society must frame a scheme called the “distribution scheme” which will set out the procedure for distribution of royalties specified in the tariff schemes for members whose names are mentioned in the Register of Authors and Owners.
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