Neighbouring rights, also known as related rights, are a subset of intellectual property rights that exist alongside traditional copyright.

While copyright primarily protects the rights of authors of literary, musical, and artistic works, neighbouring rights protect the interests of certain contributors to the music and broadcasting industries, such as performers, producers of phonograms (sound recordings), and broadcasting organizations.

This article gives you a valuable information on neighbouring rights in copyright.

Concept of Neighbouring Rights in Copyright

Neighbouring rights, often viewed as a concept parallel to copyright, represent a copyright-like property right that primarily safeguards the auxiliaries of creation.

Unlike traditional copyright, which protects the intellectual creator’s original work, related rights focus on the rights of performers, such as musicians, actors, and singers.

These rights ensure that every performance of a singer or any performer is protected against unauthorised use, especially in modern methods of communication.

The aspects of neighbouring rights extend beyond just the performance, covering the rights in respect to the dissemination and recording of such performances.

Essentially, while copyright protects the original creation, neighbouring rights ensure that the performers of performances, those who bring the creation to life and make it accessible to the public, are equally recognised and protected.

This distinction underscores the importance of both rights in the holistic protection of intellectual creations.


Related rights serve a distinct purpose within the realm of intellectual property.

While traditional copyright focuses on protecting original “works” crafted by authors, neighbouring rights aim to safeguard the interests of those who play a pivotal role in bringing these works to the public.

This includes individuals and entities that, while not creating the original work, contribute significantly through their creativity, technical expertise, or organisational skills.

For instance, while a song’s composition might be protected by copyright, the specific rendition or performance of that song by an artist falls under neighbouring rights.

These rights recognise that such contributions, though not always qualifying as “works” in every country’s copyright system, are nonetheless valuable and deserving of protection.

Labelled as “neighbours” to traditional copyright, these rights ensure that entities like performers, producers, and broadcasters are acknowledged and protected.

However, it’s crucial to note that the existence and exercise of neighbouring rights do not diminish or interfere with the original copyright.

They coexist, ensuring a comprehensive protective framework for all contributors in the creative process.

Understanding the Distinction: Copyright vs. Neighbouring Rights

Copyright and neighbouring rights, both integral to the realm of intellectual property, serve distinct yet interconnected roles.

While copyright primarily protects the original intellectual creations of authors, neighbouring rights, or related rights, cater to those who act as intermediaries in the production, recording, or dissemination of these works.

The essence of neighbouring rights lies in their auxiliary nature.

They exist because of the pivotal role certain entities play in bringing an author’s work to the public.

For instance, a composer might pen a musical piece, but it’s the musician who brings it to life through performance.

Similarly, a playwright crafts a story, but it’s the actor who embodies the characters on stage.

Producers of phonograms, often associated with the record industry, capture and produce the melodies and lyrics crafted by authors, composers, and performed by artists.

Broadcasting organizations further amplify this by transmitting these works and phonograms to a wider audience.

In essence, while copyright safeguards the originality and creativity of an author’s work, neighbouring rights ensure that those who play a crucial role in making these works accessible to the public are recognised and protected.

This intermediary nature of neighbouring rights sets them apart from copyright, highlighting their unique significance in the intellectual creation process.

Evolution of Neighbouring Rights Under Copyright Law in India

Historically, the Indian Copyright Act did not encompass Neighbouring Rights.

However, recognising the need to protect the interests of performers, broadcasting organisations, and producers of phonograms, significant amendments were made over the years.

The transformative amendment of 1994 marked the beginning of this inclusion. Chapter VIII of the Act was enriched with specific sections dedicated to Neighbouring Rights.

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Section 37 was introduced to safeguard the rights of Broadcasting Organizations, while Section 38 was dedicated to the protection of Performer’s rights.

Additionally, the rights of Producers of Phonograms were fortified with the inclusion of ‘sound recording’ in Section 13 and the delineation of their rights in Section 14.

To provide clarity and prevent misuse, Section 39 was added, outlining acts that wouldn’t infringe upon the rights of Performers and Broadcasting Organizations.

The evolution didn’t stop there. The 2012 amendment further strengthened the framework. Exclusive and moral rights of performers were introduced through Sections 38A and 38B.

Moreover, Section 39A was added, detailing provisions applicable in scenarios involving Performer’s rights and Broadcaster’s reproduction rights.

This progressive inclusion of Neighbouring Rights in the Indian Copyright Act underscores India’s commitment to ensuring a comprehensive protective framework for all stakeholders in the creative industry.

International Conventions on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights: India’s Participation

While the Indian Copyright Act offers protection to intellectual creations within the nation’s borders, the global nature of art and innovation necessitates international safeguards.

To ensure that Indian works receive due protection beyond its territorial confines, India has proactively become a signatory to following international conventions on copyright and neighbouring (or related) rights:

Kinds of Neighbouring Rights 

In the realm of intellectual property, while copyrights primarily protect the original creations of authors, neighbouring rights, often termed as “related rights”, safeguard the interests of other contributors in the creative process.

These rights recognise the significant contributions of performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organizations, ensuring they are adequately compensated and protected.

  1. Performer Rights: These rights are vested in performers, which encompass musicians, actors, and other artists. They protect their performances against unauthorised recordings or transmissions. Only with the performer’s legal consent can their content be communicated to the public. Any violation of this would infringe upon their neighbouring rights.
  2. Broadcasting Rights: Broadcasting organisations, including television and radio providers, hold these rights. When a live performance is facilitated by a broadcaster, they possess the exclusive rights to authorise or prohibit its use. Unauthorised recording or broadcasting of such content infringes upon these rights.
  3. Recording Rights: These rights pertain to sound recordings. If a performer’s sound recording is legally obtained with their prior consent, any subsequent communication to the public requires the performer’s further consent. Post the performer’s demise, their legal representatives can enforce these rights.

The Essence of Neighbouring Rights and Their Beneficiaries

Neighbouring rights, a cornerstone of intellectual property, traditionally extend protection to three primary beneficiaries: performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organisations.

Each of these entities plays a unique and indispensable role in the creative process and dissemination of works.

Performers, be it actors, musicians, or dancers, breathe life into works. Their artistic interpretations of musical compositions, dramatic pieces, choreographies, and films are vital.

Recognising their rights ensures that their individual creative expressions are protected and valued.

Producers of phonograms, on the other hand, provide the essential creative, financial, and organisational backbone to transform raw sound into commercial phonograms.

Their investment and expertise make it possible for audiences to access and enjoy recorded sound.

Given their significant contributions, it’s only fitting that they possess the legal means to combat unauthorised uses, be it through piracy or unauthorised public communication of their phonograms.

Lastly, broadcasting organisations serve as the bridge between creators and the public. They play a pivotal role in making various works accessible to a broader audience.

Recognising their rights ensures they have control over the transmission, ensuring that their broadcasts are not illicitly retransmitted.

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International Framework for Neighbouring Rights

The Rome International Convention, adopted in 1961, is a pivotal international treaty that outlines the protection of performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organizations.

Managed by UNESCO, ILO, and WIPO, this convention ensures performers can oppose unauthorised broadcasts or reproductions of their performances.

Additionally, the TRIPS Agreement of 1995 and the Rome Convention of 1961 provide protection for neighbouring rights, with the latter offering protection for up to 20 years from the end of the year in which the work was performed, recorded, or broadcasted.

Other significant treaties include the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and the Beijing Treaty on Audio-Visual Performance (BTAP).

These treaties extend protection into the digital era, ensuring rights are protected even over the internet.

Suggested Reading: Moral Rights in Copyright

Why are Neighbouring Rights Important?

Related rights play a pivotal role in the realm of intellectual property, specifically in the music and broadcasting industries.

These rights recognise the invaluable contributions of performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasting organizations.

These rights ensure that those who contribute to the presentation and dissemination of such works are adequately compensated and acknowledged.

In the age of digital streaming and online broadcasting, these rights have gained paramount importance.

They ensure that artists, musicians, and broadcasters receive fair remuneration when their performances or broadcasts are played or shown, especially on digital platforms.

Moreover, they provide a legal framework to combat unauthorised use or piracy, ensuring that the rights of all contributors are protected.

In essence, neighbouring rights not only incentivise creativity and performance but also ensure a balanced ecosystem where every contributor’s efforts are recognised and rewarded.

Neighbouring Rights Around the Globe

The Dutch Neighbouring Rights Act (Wet op de Naburige Rechten) bestows exclusive rights upon performing artists, such as musicians and actors, as well as broadcasters and recording firms.

This Act ensures that artists have moral rights, and there’s no formal procedure to obtain these rights; they’re naturally acquired through performance, recording, or broadcasting.

Canada established the Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada (NRCC) in 1997.

Designated by the Copyright Board, the NRCC collects a portion of advertising revenue from commercial radio stations throughout the country.

While the United States’ recognition of Neighbouring Rights isn’t as historic as its Copyright laws, since 1976, these rights have become integral to copyright protection.

The U.S. has seen a strong push to strike a balance between safeguarding interests and promoting information sharing. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 governs this rigorous protection.

Japan has also seen recent advancements in this area. Neighbouring rights there last for fifty years from the year of the initial sound fixation or publication.

If no publication occurs within fifty years after the first sound fixation, the protection starts from the subsequent date and lasts for fifty years. In 1996, Japan announced plans to extend these rights to fifty years for sound recordings. 

Interplay Between Neighbouring Rights and Copyright

Section 39A of the Indian Copyright Act provides clarity on the relationship between neighbouring rights and copyright. It ensures that:

  1. No license to reproduce a broadcast is valid without consent from the copyright owner or the performer.
  2. No neighbouring right will exist if the broadcast or performance infringes upon any work’s copyright.
  3. Neighbouring rights do not affect the separate copyright in any work related to the broadcast or performance.

In conclusion, neighbouring rights in India have evolved over time, drawing inspiration from international treaties and conventions.

These rights ensure that performers, broadcasting organizations, and producers of phonograms are adequately protected and compensated for their contributions to the creative industries.

7 Interesting Facts on Related Rights

  1. Limitations Similar to Copyright: Just as with copyright, the Rome Convention and many national laws have provisions that allow certain limitations on related rights. This includes allowances for private use, use of short excerpts for reporting current events, and use for educational or scientific purposes.
  2. Duration of Protection: The Rome Convention stipulates a protection duration of 20 years from the end of the year in which a phonogram was recorded, a performance occurred, or a broadcast was made. However, the TRIPS Agreement extends the protection for performers and phonogram producers to 50 years, while maintaining the 20-year duration for broadcasting organisations.
  3. Extended Protection in National Laws: Many national legislations offer protection durations that exceed the minimum requirements set by the Rome Convention, highlighting the significance of neighboring rights in various jurisdictions.
  4. Enforcement Mechanisms: Remedies for violations of neighboring rights are generally on par with those available for copyright infringements. This includes provisional measures, civil remedies, criminal sanctions, and border control measures.
  5. Protection of Folklore: Developing countries, rich in unwritten and unrecorded cultural expressions, can protect their folklore under neighboring rights. Through performers, these cultural treasures are communicated to the public, preserving national identities and cultural uniqueness.
  6. Economic Benefits and Cultural Preservation: Neighboring rights not only help in preserving national culture but also in tapping into international markets. The global popularity of “world music” is a testament to this potential, though it’s essential that economic benefits return to the origin countries.
  7. Interplay with International Trade: The protection of intellectual property rights, including neighboring rights, is becoming intertwined with international trade opportunities. Countries with robust IP protection are more likely to attract international investments, especially in the evolving landscape of global trade and technology convergence.
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These facts underscore the multifaceted importance of neighboring rights in the global intellectual property framework, balancing cultural preservation with economic opportunities.


In the intricate tapestry of intellectual property, the aspects of neighboring rights emerge as a pivotal thread.

These rights not only serve to protect the intermediaries in the creative process but also ensure that the rich tapestry of cultural expressions, especially from developing nations, finds its rightful place in the global arena.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of international trade, technology, and cultural exchange, it becomes imperative to recognise and uphold the significance of neighboring rights.

Their role in balancing cultural preservation with economic opportunities underscores their undeniable importance in the broader spectrum of intellectual property.


What are Neighbouring Rights?

Neighboring rights, often referred to as ‘related rights’, are rights granted to protect the interests of performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organisations concerning the public use of an author’s work. These rights are distinct from copyright but are based on works protected by copyright.

How do Neighboring Rights differ from Copyright?

While copyright protects the creative output of the human mind, neighboring rights are vested in individuals or entities that are not technically the authors but play a crucial role in making the work available to the public, such as artists, phonogram producers, and broadcasters.

How do Neighboring Rights benefit artists and performers?

Neighboring rights recognise the contribution of all artists related to the primary copyrighted work. They ensure that artists, performers, and producers are compensated for their work and have control over the unauthorised use of their performances, recordings, or broadcasts.

Are Neighboring Rights recognised in the digital era?

Yes, with the advent of treaties like WPPT and BTAP, the protection of neighboring rights has expanded into the digital era, covering the exploitation of protected works over the internet.

What was the “Dramatic and Musical Performers Act, 1925”?

The “Dramatic and Musical Performers Act, 1925” was an act introduced by the United Kingdom government to protect the rights of performers. It made the violation of performers’ rights a criminal offense.