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Government brings life to Internet Broadcasting under the amended Copyright Act

- By Pratik Jhaveri, Associate, Mumbai Office

We are aware that the provisions of Section 31A were amended and certain new provisions in terms of Section 31-B, 31-C and 31-D were introduced in the Copyright Act, 1957 (the Act), vide the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 which amendment came into force from June, 2012.  It is during this time that provisions of Compulsory License for the disabled, the statutory license for cover versions and the statutory license for broadcasting was introduced for the first time in the said Act.

The provisions for the said “statutory license for broadcasting” under Section 31-D specifically granted certain rights to the Copyright Owners in so far as the Broadcasting Organizations had to compulsorily give a prior Notice to these Copyright Owners before they could communicate to the public (by means of broadcasting or by Performance) any such “literary work” or the “musical work” or the “work in sound recording”, which had already been published by the said Copyright Owners.  Thus, what was allowed to be broadcast was the work that had already been published, and that too after a prior notice which would state the duration and territorial coverage of the proposed broadcast and shall also specify the royalty payable to each such Copyright Owner (whether of literary work or the musical work or for the work in sound recording).  The royalty in this regard had to be at such rate as was ascertained by the Copyright Board.

It was also mandated that while so broadcasting, the names of the authors and the principal performers of the work shall have to announced with the said broadcast (except in the case of Performance of any such work).  It was also mandated that no such work shall be altered without the consent of the Copyright Owners, other than mere shortening of the work for the convenience of the broadcast. Thus, the overall interest of the Owners of Copyright are intended to be protected by the said Amendment of 2012.

It was also mandated that the Copyright Owners shall have a right to inspect the Books of Accounts& the Records of the Broadcasting Organization for the purposes of assessing the correctness of the royalty so payable to them.  


TheMinistry of Commerce & Industry (Copyright Section) has now issued a Clarification vide its Notification1 dated 5th September, 2016 which portrays that “Internet Broadcasting Companies”would also be under the purview of the provisions of Section 31-D relating to Statutory Licensing for the purposes of broadcasting.

Since the Internet broadcasting was technically not covered earlier under the Copyright Act, the music rights owners had an edge and took advantage in deciding the royalties amount, if any, to be paid by the audio streaming websites like, Saavn, and the Online Radio operator platforms like Radio City. It is fair inclusion, for the Copyright Owners shall, now onwards, get what they deserve for the work that they have / had created.

Now onwards, besides the Internet Broadcaster, all such streaming websitesand the audio streaming apps&websites like the, Saavn and and the online radio operator platforms like Radio City will have to approach the Copyright Board to decide the royalty amount for every song that is broadcast and/or otherwise communicated to the public.

The provision of Section 31-D of the Copyright Act originally covered merely the radio and the television. But with the help of the present notification, nowSection 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957 additionally covers all Internet broadcasting organization desirous of communicating to the public.  The above clarification will surely pull numerous music streaming companies out from their struggling period as it ensures a fixed royalty as determined by the Copyright Board. The establishment of Copyright Board in this regard is expected to usher in an era of transparency in grant of royalties.