In this second part of “Decoding the Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA)”, CEO Sanjay Tandon dwells into the investigative procedures, difficulties, and the eminent digital space that he is currently dealing with.
In the Digital Space
At present, we are in correspondence with primary digital players. If nothing yields, I am willing to take them to court, which should happen soon.
The Copyright act is applied to streaming and digital services too. This is not only in India, but across the world. But, if you don’t ask for it you won’t get it. Specially money. So, I have to fight for it and I am ok with that. At present, we don’t have a dedicated clause for digital spaces but we are anticipating one to start soon. All platforms like Facebook, Yahoo, and YouTube etc. have been issued notices.
Having agreements with foreign societies such as Recorded Artists Actors Performers (RAAP), NUOVOIMAIE, Associacao Brasileira de Musica e Artes, etc. means much more to me than just money. ISRA has agreements with societies in Japan, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Portugal. We recently got into an agreement with Kyrgyzstan. For me, international agreements mean the coming together of so many communities to stand for something greater than ourselves and our interest. They collect royalties on my behalf if my musician’s song is being played and I do the same for them.
The main revenue sources for all the societies are digital, television, radio, mobiles and other general licensing avenues like clubs, airlines, hotels, roadways etc. As far as ISRA goes, I am trying to get all the stake holders together and reason it out to them so that the general public doesn’t suffer. Today, there is a lot of confusion as to how many licenses to take, how much to pay. Nobody can budget because some societies say pay 1 lakh and sometimes they ask for 10 thousand for the same thing. There should be one body to take these decisions. That’s the role we are trying to play, let’s see how successful we are.
To find out if a song of any of our artist is played, we have investigators. The first layer is that they find out if the song is being played. Then, we send them a notice and try to educate them. This usually takes 8-9 months, we give them ample amount of time, so there is no hurry. If they don’t cooperate, we send our investigators to record evidence for the courts. After that, we find out if the song belongs to our artists and if it does, we make our final claim from these people and tell them that this time we have caught them. But as per our customer policy, we request them to pay us. If they still don’t, we take them to court.
We have had many successful cases till date. We have got 8 injunction orders in our favour. We have 2 judgements in our favour by the Delhi High Court. The judgement clearly states that if anyone wants to play the songs in public for commercial purposes, they have to take the ISRA Licence and pay royalty to them. Our music companies are not happy with this and have been trying to create problems for the past two and half years and they have got no value. In case of someone losing the case, the court has imposed a penalty of about ₹20,000.
A big case we won was against the IPL. We got registered in 2013. By end of 2014, we were concentrating on memberships. In early 2015, I wrote a claim letter to BCCI first. BCCI replied saying, “It’s not our business. You have to contact the respective franchises and it is their obligation to take the necessary licences.” Based on BCCI’s letter, I wrote to each of the franchises and their biggies replied saying “Do whatever you want.” Except Chennai Super Kings which paid us for that year, the others didn’t pay. The next year again I send them a notice with the outstanding dues of last year and asked them to pay for last year and this year. Again they had the same attitude. So I went to the Delhi High Court and got injunctions against all the IPL teams. Within 2 hours we had 32 lakhs on our table.
Currently we have 354 members. India has thousands of singers but we at ISRA have not chased anyone to be a part of ISRA. Whoever willingly comes and joins us are most welcome. We have done this because most of the Who’s Who are our members and we are controlling 95% of the market. So 95% of the songs are currently covered by us. The rest 5% is ok. They are unwilling maybe because they are scared of the music companies boycotting them.
Also read the first part of ‘Decoding the ISRA‘.