Copyright
“A call instead of a legal notice may have sorted things smoothly.”

The film industry is a divided lot after music director Ilaiyaraaja sent singer SP Balasubrahamanyam (SPB) a legal notice for singing songs composed by him in his concerts.

While the law appears to be on Ilaiyaraaja’s side when it comes to seeking royalties for musical works composed by him, his decision to send SPB a legal notice has left artistes, actors and many others in the film industry debating the consequences of his action.

Taking to Facebook, Madhan Karky, lyricist and scriptwriter said, “Seeing with the lens of law, what Raja sir did is right. A song is owned by the composer, lyricist and producer. Seeing with the eyes of friendship, it doesn’t seem right. A call instead of a legal notice may have sorted things smoothly.”

Madhan, who is the son of renowned lyricist Vairamuthu points out that while Ilaiyaraaja can seek his share of royalties, he is bound to distribute the money to the lyricist and producer of the song as well.

He noted that although the public spat between SPB and Ilaiyaraaja is “bitter to many”, it has taken the issue of understanding royalties to a larger stage.

Singer Chinamayi Sripada also joined in on the debate on Twitter, observing that royalties collected by copyright societies like Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) on behalf of artistes, labels and producers needs to be discussed.

Chinmayi is referring to allegations that IPRS and PPL, which issue licenses if a copyrighted song is to be performed, has not ensured payment to its creators.  Incidentally, the Delhi High Court has restrained IPRS and PPL from granting licenses. These copyright societies had failed to register themselves following the amendment to the Copyright Act in 2012.

Sharing Madhan’s Facebook post, singer Vijay Yesudas agreed with the lyricist’s points, stating that royalties need to be collected by copyright societies like IPRS but without corruption.

Actor Karthik Kumar, however, voiced his support for Ilaiyaraaja’s decision. In a series of tweets, Karthik pointed out that singers were the “last mile contributors” in film music. Arguing that his generation took for granted the genius of composers like Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman, Karthik batted for protecting the Intellectual Property (IP) of their musical works.