Controversy for Copyright

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Film Copyright Controversy

The well known former film writer and now lyricist M P (Rajya Sabha) Javed Akhtar has become successful in getting his recommendation / point of view accepted by law makers that the film lyricists and music directors should each get 12.5 percent of the profit earned by their work. Presently the sole copyright holder of the film’s music is the Producer who gets 50 percent of the overall profits earned from the film and also gets an additional 25 percent as recording rights of the music. Javed wanted the balance 25 percent profit to be shared equally by the lyricist and music composer towards their creativity. The Union Cabinet is likely to approve this amendment which will soon then tabled as “amendment to the existing law” for passing in the Parliament.

It was but natural that this development created controversy, née-jerk reactions, turmoil and protests in the film industry. Producers APEX body Film Federation of India (FFI) has even issued a call for ban on the lyricist Javed Akhtar and have decided to oppose this amendment tooth and nail. The Indian Film Directors have been fighting to have a slice of profit made the film as they maintain that the entire film is their baby, a part of their own conceptual creativity. Indian Film And Television Directors Association (IFTDA) have also decided to oppose this and made out a case for claiming this 25 percent share in profits. It has also issued a Press Release for the media which is reproduced below:-


Directors of Film and Television are angered by the act of people who wants to take away directors copyright of being the captain of the ship, the principle maker, the creator who they have been and will always remain. Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association with its over 5,000 members protest against HRD ministry’s parliamentary committee removing the ‘director’ as the principal author from the list of beneficiaries for the revised copyright act.

Throughout the world the film is considered as a work of art and treated as the director’s personal vision. The European Union law protects his work like an original copyright holder. In America, Director shares in the bounty via residuals through the life of the film.

Prominent film directors & representatives of IFTDA and their over 5000 members of Screen and TV directors and assistants feels insulted & humiliated by some of associates from our film world misguiding / manipulating the concerned authorities, for their ulterior motives.

Thus even the HRD ministry which proposes to protect the rights of scriptwriters, lyricists, composers and sound recordists has left out the film directors.

Directors are acting fast before the recommendations get tabled! Directors are determined to use all their power to keep up their prestige, honor by getting the copyright benefits. If this is not done then the consequences to come in the future will be very bad. Come what may the director’s will not leave their copyright and let a few producers/actors/writers rule the game? This irrelevancy will reflect in the kind of cinemas to come in future if not done and reflect a scary vision.

Chetan Mathur

My comments / opinion on the entire Controversy :

Logically we feel that once the Producer has paid the entire contracted sum towards the creative contribution of the director, music composer, lyricist or other crew members; the end product “Film” with all its contents becomes the property of the Producer and therefore, he will have to preserve and sell the end product by using his own skills. Naturally, therefore, he has the share in profits or losses made on the film in totality including the music. If the lyricists and music composers are claiming a share in profit, equity and fairness demands that they should then also share the “Losses of the film / music”. Why the writers of films are silent and not claiming their share too in the profits? Is not WRITING A CREATIVITY ? It is. But from the above business logic they have also been paid the contracted sum for their creative contribution by the producer and thus not staking their claim, like lyricists or music composers.

However, there is a point in the arguments advanced by the directors or their association that the film is a pure conceptual creation of the director, and as such regarded the world over. Hence there is a rational space to differentiate between the creative contributions made by directors vs. all other creative people as mentioned above. Who is the boss and decision maker about what meaningful lines to a particular situational lyric is to be written or what type of tune the music composer has to make? Certainly the director has the last word and a decision maker. And are lyricist, writer or music composer not changing the “lines” as required by the director? If a film is a flop or critically assaulted, the blame is shared by the director for the “Failure to Communicate”. thus the director suffers by way of his own reputation and his standing/ market value in the trade. The financial losses, if any are entirely borne by the producer/distributor. But the DIRECTOR has a STAKE in the film’s making, shaping and success.

We are, therefore, of he opinion that the Director of the film which has made a profit, should get some share after the producer share. Their case is more deserving than the claims of lyricist or composer. It is hoped that if at all any amendment is accepted to be made by the Parliament in the Copy Right Act, the claim of the directors must be added to it.

Written by: 

Mohan Siroya


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