Concept of Copyright Societies:
Collective administration of copyright by societies is a concept where management and protection of copyright in works are undertaken by a society of authors and other owners of such works. No authors and other owners of copyright in any work can keep track of all the uses others make of his work. When he becomes a member of a national copyright society, that society, because of its organizational facilities and strength, is able to keep a better vigil over the uses made of that work throughout the country and collect due royalties from the users of those works.
Because of the country’s membership in international conventions, the copyright societies are able to have reciprocal agreements with similar societies in other countries for collecting royalties for the uses of Indian works in those countries. Therefore, it is in the interests of copyright owners to join a collective administration organization to ensure better protection to the copyright in their works and for reaping optimum economic benefits from their creations. Users of different types of works also find it easy to obtain licenses for legal exploitation of the works in question, through the collective administrative society.
Copyright societies in India:
A copyright society is a registered collective administration society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Such a society is formed by authors and other owners. The minimum membership required for registration of a society is seven. Ordinarily, only one society is registered to do business in respect of the same class of work. A copyright society can issue or grant licenses in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other right given by the Copyright Act. The business of issuing or granting license in respect of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works incorporated in cinematograph films or sound recordings shall be carried out only through a copyright society duly registered under this Act. This is a kind of compulsory collective licensing for managing performing rights. The registration granted to a copyright society shall be for a period of five years and may be renewed from time to time before the end of every five years on a request in the prescribed form and the Central Government may renew the registration after considering the report of Registrar of Copyrights on the working of the copyright society under section 36.
The renewal of the registration of a copyright society shall be subject to the continued collective
control of the copyright society being shared with the authors of works in their capacity as owners of copyright or of the right to receive a royalty. Every copyright society already registered before the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 came into existence shall get itself registered under this Chapter within one year from the date of commencement of the Copyright (Amendment) Act,2012.
Functions of a copyright society:
Conditions subject to which a copyright society may issue licenses, collect fees and distribute such fees.
(1) A copyright society may issue licenses and collect fees in accordance with its Scheme of Tariff in relation to only such works as it has been authorized to administer in writing by the authors and other owners of rights and for the period for which it has been so authorized.
(2) The distribution of fees collected shall be subject to a deduction not exceeding fifteen percent of the collection on account of administrative expenses incurred by the copyright society.
Administration of rights of owner by copyright society (Section 34 of Copyright Act,1957)
(1) (a) a copyright society may accept from an author and other owners of rights exclusive
authorization to administer any right in any work by the issue of licenses or collection of license fees or both; and
(b) an author and other owners of rights shall have the right to withdraw such authorization without prejudice to the rights of the copyright society under any contract.
(2) It shall be competent for a copyright society to enter into an agreement with any foreign society or organization administering rights corresponding to rights under this Act, to entrust to such foreign society or organization the administration in any foreign country of rights administered by the said copyright society in India, or for administering in India the rights administered in a foreign country by such foreign society or organization.
Provided that no such society or organization shall permit any discrimination with regard to the
terms and conditions of the license or the distribution of royalties so collected, between the Indian Copyright Holders as well as other right holders.
(3) Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, a copyright society may‐
(i) issue licenses under section 30 in respect of any rights under this Act;
(ii) collect fees in pursuance of such licenses;
(iii) distribute such fees among author and other owners of rights after making deductions for its
(iv) perform any other functions consistent which the provisions of section 35.
Control over the copyright society by the authors and other owners of rights.‐ (Section 35 of Copyright Act,1957)
(1) Every copyright society shall be subject to the collective control of the author and other owners of rights under this Act whose rights it administers (not being the author and other owners of rights under this Act administered by a foreign society or organization referred to in sub‐section (2) of section (34) and shall, in such manner as may be prescribed,‐
(a) obtain the approval of such owners of rights for its procedures of collection and distribution of fees;
(b) obtain their approval for the utilization of any amounts collected as fees for any purpose other than distribution to the owner of rights; and
(c) provide to such owners regular, full and detailed information concerning all its activities, in
relation to the administration of their rights.
(2) All fees distributed among the owners of rights shall, as far as may be, be distributed in
proportion to the actual use of their works.
(3) Every copyright society shall have a governing body with such a number of persons elected from among the members of the society consisting of an equal number of authors and owners of it for the purpose of the administration of the society as may be specified.
(4) All members of copyrights society shall enjoy equal membership rights and there shall be no
discrimination between authors and owners of rights in the distribution of royalties.
Records to be maintained by copyright societies
Every copyright society shall maintain the following registers at its registered or administrative
(i) a register of authors and other owners to be called the “Register of Authors and Other Owners” in respect of a right or set of rights in the specific categories of works for which the copyright society has been authorized to issue or grant licenses. The register shall contain the names of the authors and other owners, their addresses, the nature of rights authorized to be administered by the copyright society, year of publication of the work, the date on which the copyright society becomes entitled to issue or grant licenses and the duration of such entitlement, the territory for which the authorization has been given and the rights that have been so authorized;
(ii) a register to be called the “Register of Agreements” containing a copy of every agreement
entered into by the copyright society with the authors and other owners for the purpose;
(iii) a register to be called the “Register of Royalties” containing particulars of royalties and
mentioning the names of persons or organizations and a copy of the license agreements from whom the royalties have been realized, and the amount so realized including the date of realization;
(iv) a register to be called the “Disbursement Register” containing details of disbursement of
royalties made to each author or other owner of right or set of rights in the specific categories of
works, category‐wise, mentioning the name of the author or other owner, nature of his right and the date and amount of disbursement of royalty made to him.
Tariff Scheme by copyright societies.
Every copyright society shall publish its tariff scheme in such a manner as prescribed in the Copyright Rules, 2013. Any person who is aggrieved by the tariff scheme may appeal to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and the Board may if satisfied after holding such inquiry as it may consider necessary, make such orders as may be required to remove any unreasonable element, anomaly or inconsistency therein. The aggrieved person shall pay to the copyright society any fee as may be prescribed that has fallen due before making an appeal to the IPAB and shall continue to pay such fee until the appeal is decided, and the Board shall not issue an order staying the collection of such fee pending disposal of the appeal. The IPAB may after hearing the parties fix an interim tariff and direct the aggrieved parties to make the payment accordingly pending disposal of the appeal.
(1) A copyright society shall frame a scheme to be called the “Distribution Scheme” setting out the
procedure for distribution of royalties specified in the Tariff Scheme among the members whose
names are entered in the Register of Authors and Owners maintained under clause (i) of rule 59 for the approval of the General Body of the society, as soon as may be, but in no case later than three months from the date on which a copyright society has become entitled to commence its copyright business.
(2) The distribution shall, reasonably, be in proportion to the royalty income of the copyright society derived from the grant of licences for right or set of rights in the specific categories of works for which it is administering each author and other owners of right.
(3) There shall be no discrimination between authors and other owners of rights in the distribution of royalties by the copyright society.
(4) While distributing the royalties the copyright society shall inform all members about the basis on which such amount of royalties is being distributed.
(5) The Distribution Scheme shall aim to ensure that all royalty distributions are fair, accurate, cost-effective, and without any unknown or hidden cross‐subsidies.
(6) The society shall fix parameters in a transparent manner for determining the share of the distribution of its members and reveal the details of the same in a manner that is easily understandable to its members.
(7) The distribution of royalties shall be based on actual use or reliable statistical data that fairly
represent the commercial exploitation of the licensed rights.
(8) The Distribution Scheme shall ensure that the royalties to all members are distributed at least
once in a quarter.
(9) The copyright society shall not make any payment like a minimum guarantee to its
members against the share of royalties due to its members.
(10) The royalties collected based on the Tariff Scheme for the licensing of the rights in the literary or musical works included in a cinematograph film or sound recording shall be shared on an equal basis with the authors of literary or musical works and the owners of rights in a cinematograph film or sound recording under sub‐section (1) of section 18.
Meeting of copyright societies.
(1) Every copyright society shall hold a General Body meeting of all its members as its annual General Body meeting before the 31st day of March every year.
(2) A special meeting of the General Body called extraordinary General Body meeting of all its
members may also be held, if considered necessary, by a two-thirds majority of the Governing Council.
(3)The meetings of the General Body and Governing Council shall be held in the town or city in which its registered office is situated or such other convenient place as decided by the Chairman of the society.
(4) The notice for the General Body meeting shall be issued before twenty‐one days of the meeting and it shall and specify the agenda, time, date, and address of the venue of the meeting and the same shall be posted on the website of the society.
(5) Every member of the society shall have equal voting rights in the General Body meetings.
(6) There shall be no discrimination between members who are authors and other owners of rights.
(7) Quorum for meetings of the General Body shall be one-third of the total members and in case of lack of quorum the meeting may be adjourned for thirty minutes and then members present shall constitute a quorum.
(8) Quorum for the meetings of the Governing Council shall be one-third of its total members other than the Chairman with an equal number of authors and other owners.
(9)The Registrar of Copyrights shall be invited as an observer to all General Body meetings. The
Registrar or his authorized representative on his behalf may attend the said meeting.
Documents to be presented at the Annual General Meeting of Owners of Rights
Every copyright society shall place before its annual General Body meeting the following documents,
(i) an up‐to‐date list of the authors and other owners of right or the set of rights in the specific
categories of works for which the copyright society has been authorized to issue or grant licenses, their names, and addresses as recorded in the Register of Authors and Owners maintained by the copyright society, as provided in sub‐rule (i) of rule 64;
(ii) audited accounts of the society for the previous year;
(iii) the Tariff Scheme and the Distribution Scheme or any other scheme including the decision of the IPAB on the said Schemes, if any;
(iv) annual report as approved by the Governing Council, giving a full and detailed account of all its activities during the previous years;
(v) Budget estimates along with programme of action as approved by the Governing Council for the succeeding year;
(vi) the agreements, if any entered with foreign copyright societies under subsection (2) section 34 of the Act;
(vii) any changes made in the instrument of registration of the society; and (viii) any other document relating to the society that requires approval of the General Body.
Returns to be filed by the copyright societies with the Registrar of Copyrights.
Every copyright society shall file a return called the Annual Return with the Registrar of Copyrights within one month from the date of conclusion of each annual General Body meeting setting out the following details, namely:—
(i) the date of the Annual General Body meeting held immediately preceding the filing of the annual return, the number of members who attended the meeting, agenda, and the minutes of such meeting ;
(ii) the up‐to‐date list of the members, their names and addresses as recorded in the Register of
Authors and Owners maintained by the copyright society, as provided in rule 64;
(iii) audited accounts of the copyright society;
(iv) the Tariff Scheme, Distribution Scheme, and other Schemes, if any;
(v) annual report approved by the General Body giving a full and detailed account of all its activities
during the year;
(vi) the list of the members to whom royalties are not distributed and the reasons for the same; and
(vii) the list of the members to whom royalties have been distributed together with the amounts so distributed.
Code of Conduct for copyright societies
Every copyright society shall conform to the following Code of Conduct as follows:‐
(1 )Every Society shall make available on its website‐
(a) certificate of registration as a Copyright Society;
(b) basic documents of governance such as the memorandum of association, articles of association, constitution, or charter;
(c) list of all members of General Body;
(d) names and address of Chairman, other members of the Governing Council, and other officers of the society;
(e) right or set of rights in the specific categories of works for which the copyright society has been authorized to issue or grant licenses;
(f) all schemes of the society;
(g) annual report and audited accounts as approved by the General Body;
(h) license agreement formats;
(i) details of all existing licenses other than those clauses in the license having commercial
(j) foreign societies with whom there are agreements to collect royalties and the details of the
agreement other than those clauses having commercial sensitivity;
(k) details of the complaint or Grievances Cell; and
(I) the code of conduct.
(2)The members shall be (a) treated fairly, honestly, impartially, courteously, and ensure that its dealings with them are more transparent.
Thus, the Copyright Society is a legal body that protects or safeguards the interest of owners of the work in which copyright subsists. The Copyright Societies gives assurance to the creative authors of the commercial management of their works.
The authors of creative works license a publisher to publish the work on a royalty basis. This also leads to infringement of the work anywhere in India or abroad therefore it is extremely difficult for the owner of the work to prevent such infringement. To overcome such difficulty owners of Copyright works have formed Societies to license their works for performance or communication to the public or issue copies of the work to the public. ‘Copyright Society’ means a society registered under Section33 (3).
The Copyright societies are also authorized to watch out for infringement of the copyright and take appropriate legal action against the infringers.
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