Interview of the Week – Javed Akhtar, Chairman, IPRS

Since its re-admission into the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in 2016, The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) has been recognised as one of the world’s fastest-growing copyright society.

IPRS has been promoting and executing fair trade music for transparent and ethical value chain for authors, composers, and all music rights holders. Their licensing deals aim at helping original creators of music earn fair remuneration for their work with the well-deserved royalties.

The society’s membership list contains most of the big music labels and one of the biggest, T-Series has joined recently. T-Series joins the existing IPRS members who include Sony Music Entertainment India, Saregama India, Universal Music Publishing, Times Music, and Aditya Music

To know more about the current on goings in the IPRS, T-Series becoming a member, unrecognised collection societies and more we spoke to Javed Akhtar, Chairman, IPRS for our Interview of the Week.

Would you share some insights about T-Series joining IPRS?

I think it is wonderful that they have joined as our member. It is a win-win situation for us both. They are one of the biggest music labels of the country and most music in the last 20 years has been released through them. It will help us in negotiating with other non-members. T-Series will get access to our international roster. They were pleased with our style of functioning, our transparency and hence decided to join hands with us.

Yash Raj Films, for reasons best known, to them are yet to join. Most probably better sense will prevail and they will join IPRS or else they will be made to join.

Why do you think T-Series took so long to join IPRS?

T-Series is a very big organisation and they also had their internal system of collecting royalties. They were not sure if they will receive the right amount in royalties and whether IPRS was capable and transparent enough for it. Whenever a new law is made or one is asked to change the way they function, the first reaction is always resistance. One does not like to venture into uncharted territories.

T-Series realised that IPRS has developed a great system of royalty collection and distribution. They realised over a period of time that it is in their advantage to join our ranks.

What changes has IPRS undergone since you took over as the Chairman?

I wont be pompous and say I have brought these changes. It has been a team effort with Rakesh Nigam, our CEO, and our governing board leading the way.

We have ensured as much transparency as possible. Earlier there was a chance pilferage, now we have plugged it. Organisers can now register their event on our website, pay the royalties via net banking and the license will be disbursed by IPRS online.

IPRS is developing a system by which every member can find out how much royalty has been collected on his/her behalf along with its source. This should be active within a few months. Earlier the average royalty collection per year was around 30-40 crore rupees. Over the last year, even with the pandemic, we have collected 170 crore rupees worth of royalty.

During the pandemic, a lot of our members were not in a comfortable economic situation. IPRS distributed a sum of money every month to ensure their basic needs are met. We extended this practice even to the non-members. We are in talks with some insurance companies. In the next 15-20 days we shall cover every member of IPRS with medical insurance.

I am happy with the Copyright Act. As long as it is clearly mentioned that the right to royalty is non-transferable and only the author himself or a government recognised society can collect the royalty on his behalf. What more can the government offer?

There are some unrecognised entities that are collecting royalties on behalf of artists and even some big music labels. What would like to say about that?

By being unreasonable enough to follow the government’s directives, they are breaking the law of the land. Either they will realise this on their own or the law will ensure it soon.

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