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Scope of 31D: Statutory License to Internet Broadcasters

By Salome Bodaji, Associate

The Copyright Act, 1957 protects the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. It is a legal doctrine which provides legal protection for works that have clear authorship. The rights in a copyrighted work are exclusive in nature and cannot be used by any other person for commercial use without the permission of the owner.
Statutory licensing is provided in different works and for different purposes such as cover versions, broadcasting etc. In today’s world, internet broadcasting of literary, musical and sound recording has become so advanced but the law governing it has not been able to keep up with the changing times.
Statutory License for Broadcasting
Broadcasting of literary, musical and sound recording in this digital era pose a difficult challenge. The internet as a medium of communication has progressed a long way in the last decade. With the technology boom, internet broadcasting and live streaming which have been garnering much attention and public interest, and the lack of regulations and reforms over the internet rights has been an alarming concern.
Amendment of Section 31D
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), through its notification vide Notification No. 14-35/2015-CRB/LU (IPR VII) brought Internet broadcasting under the ambit of the copyright law. Now, websites that stream music online have to approach the Copyright Board for payment of royalty on songs however, the judgment on this issue has not been passed yet.
DIPP interpreted Section 31D as “any broadcasting organisation desirous of communicating to the public” may not be restrictively interpreted to be covering only radio and television broadcasting as definition of “broadcast” read with “communication to the public” appears to be including all kinds of broadcast thereby including Internet broadcasting as well. “Thus, the provisions of section 31D are not restricted to radio and television broadcasting organisations only, but cover internet broadcasting organisations also.” This enhances the gambit of protection provided under the Copyright Act, 1957.

Internet usage has increased tremendously over the past years and will continue to do so this calls for immediate legal reforms to effectively manage and control their activities. Fair Use provisions must be provided while introducing technological measures. The proposed changes have resulted in the Copyright Act being more suitable to contemporary situation and will help in facilitating the access to works to the modern mediums along with the old mediums.