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Statutory License Copyright India

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Manish Jindal

December 5, 2023

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Statutory License Copyright India

Do you what is the use of statutory license copyright India?

India, with its rich tapestry of culture, arts, and innovation, has a dynamic relationship with intellectual property rights.

As creators pour their souls into melodies, scripts, and literary wonders, the Indian copyright framework strives to strike a balance between their rights and the public’s access to these creations.

Enter the concept of ‘statutory license.’ A unique facet of India’s copyright law, statutory permits offer a harmonised solution to potential conflicts between creators and consumers.

But what exactly does this entail in the Indian context? Join us as we embark on an exploration of statutory permits in India, diving deep into its nuances, implications, and significance in the ever-evolving world of copyright.

What is Statutory License Copyright India?

Statutory licensing is a critical provision in India’s copyright system, aiming to balance the rights of creators with broader public interests and accessibility.

At its core, a statutory permit allows certain users or entities to use copyrighted works without the need to seek explicit permission from the copyright holder.

Instead, the law itself mandates this permission, provided the user adheres to predefined conditions and compensates the creator or copyright owner appropriately.

Here’s a closer look at statutory permits in India:

1. Origin in the Copyright Act

The concept of statutory licenses is enshrined in the Copyright Act, 1957 of India.

Specific sections of the Act, such as Sections 31, 31A, 31B, and 31C, provide detailed provisions concerning the grant of statutory licenses for different purposes.

2. Purpose of Statutory Licenses

The primary objective is to ensure that copyrighted works are available to the public, especially when they serve larger societal needs or when access might be restricted due to exclusive copyright controls.

This mechanism prevents monopolistic practices while ensuring creators are compensated.

3. Broadcasting of Literary and Musical Works

One of the most prominent applications of statutory licenses in India relates to the broadcasting of literary and musical works and sound recordings.

If a broadcaster wishes to communicate a work to the public and the copyright owner has refused permission or demanded unreasonable fees, the broadcaster can apply for a statutory license.

4. Cover Versions

Statutory licenses in India also cover the creation of cover versions of songs.

This means an artist can create their version of an already copyrighted song without seeking specific permission from the original copyright holder, provided they adhere to certain conditions, including proper attribution and payment of royalties.

5. Benefits to the Public

Statutory licenses play a pivotal role in sectors like education and broadcasting. They ensure that essential materials are accessible to students, educators, and the general public.

For instance, in situations where copyrighted content might be vital for educational purposes but isn’t readily available due to access restrictions, statutory licenses can come into play.

Difference Between Licensing and Statutory Licensing

The world of intellectual property rights, particularly copyright, revolves around the core principle of protecting the rights of creators while facilitating the use of their creations under certain conditions.

In this context, ‘licensing’ and ‘statutory licensing’ emerge as pivotal concepts. Though they sound similar, they operate under different paradigms. Let’s delve into the primary distinctions between the two:

1. Nature of Permission:

  • Licensing: This is a voluntary arrangement where the copyright holder (licensor) grants permission to another party (licensee) to use their copyrighted work under specific terms and conditions. It is an agreement directly between the creator and the user.
  • Statutory Licensing: As the name suggests, this type of licensing is mandated by law. It allows certain users to utilise copyrighted works without obtaining explicit permission from the copyright holder, provided they meet conditions set out in the statute.

2. Origins of Authority:

  • Licensing: Derived from the inherent rights of the copyright holder. The creator or copyright owner decides whom to grant licenses to and under what terms.
  • Statutory Licensing: Derived from legal statutes. The authority to use the copyrighted material isn’t given by the copyright owner but by the law itself.

3. Flexibility:

  • Licensing: Can be highly flexible. The terms, conditions, duration, scope, and any other stipulations are negotiable between the licensor and the licensee.
  • Statutory Licensing: Typically rigid. The conditions and terms are prescribed by law and are not open to negotiation between the involved parties.

4. Compensation:

  • Licensing: The compensation (often in the form of royalties) and the method of payment are determined by mutual agreement between the licensor and the licensee.
  • Statutory Licensing: Compensation structures are often predefined by the law or determined by a regulatory body.

5. Purpose:

  • Licensing: Can vary widely based on the agreement. It might be for commercial use, reproduction, distribution, adaptation, or any other purpose the copyright holder agrees to.
  • Statutory Licensing: Usually serves broader societal interests, ensuring that copyrighted works are available to the public, especially in scenarios where exclusivity might hinder access or progress (e.g., educational purposes, broadcasting).

Read More: Implied License Copyright

Is Compulsory License and Statutory License the Same?

At first glance, ‘compulsory license’ and ‘statutory license’ might seem interchangeable. Both are rooted in legal statutes and allow users to access copyrighted works without the direct permission of the copyright holder.

However, they operate based on distinct principles and purposes. Let’s break down their similarities and differences:

Similarities:

  1. Origin in Law: Both types of licenses are rooted in legal provisions, rather than arising from private agreements between parties.
  2. Bypassing Direct Permission: In both cases, the user can access and use copyrighted material without obtaining explicit consent from the copyright owner, provided they adhere to certain conditions.

Differences:

  1. Initiation:
    • Compulsory License: This often arises when a party (usually a government or regulatory body) mandates that a copyright holder license their work to others. This typically happens when it’s deemed necessary for public interest, and the copyright owner is reluctant to grant licenses voluntarily.
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      Statutory License: This is more of a general provision in the law, allowing anyone who meets specific criteria to use copyrighted material under predefined conditions without individual negotiations or agreements.
  2. Purpose:
    • Compulsory License: Often invoked for specific societal needs. For instance, in the pharmaceutical industry, a government might issue a compulsory license for a patented drug to ensure its affordability and accessibility to its citizens.
    • Statutory License: Common in the world of media and entertainment, like allowing radio stations to play songs without seeking individual permissions from copyright holders, provided they pay standardised royalties.
  3. Compensation:
    • Compulsory License: The terms of compensation, while mandated, might be subject to negotiations or determinations on a case-by-case basis.
    • Statutory License: The compensation structures are usually predefined by the law or determined by a designated regulatory body.
  4. Application:
    • Compulsory License: Typically requires a formal application process where the requesting party must prove the necessity and meet specific criteria set out by the law.
    • Statutory License: Users often don’t need a formal application, but they must adhere to the conditions set out in the statute to qualify for the license.

How to Acquire statutory license in india

The procedure for acquiring a statutory license in India primarily stems from the Copyright Act, 1957.

The process might vary based on the nature of the copyrighted material and the purpose for which the statutory license is sought.

Here’s a general step-by-step guide, using broadcasting of music as a common example:

1. Identify the Relevant Provision:

Before initiating the process, you should identify the specific provision of the Copyright Act that pertains to the statutory license you wish to acquire. For music broadcasting, for instance, Section 31D is relevant.

2. Notification to the Copyright Owner:

Prior to broadcasting the work, the broadcasting organisation should notify the copyright owner or their representative about its intent.

This notification should include details like the work’s name, the broadcasting medium (radio or television), and any other specifics demanded by the Act.

3. Determine Royalty Rates:

The Copyright Act specifies that the royalty rates for statutory licenses (like for broadcasting) will be determined by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB). It’s crucial to check the latest prescribed rates and ensure you adhere to them.

4. Maintain Records:

Broadcasting organisations should maintain clear and detailed records of all works they broadcast under the statutory license.

This is essential for calculating royalties and for any potential audits or verifications.

5. Payment of Royalties:

Royalties should be paid to the copyright owner or their representative as per the rates determined by the IPAB. Payments are typically made on a quarterly basis.

6. Adherence to Other Provisions:

Apart from royalty payments, the broadcasting entity must ensure that they adhere to other conditions set out in the Act.

For example, the broadcast should not be altered in any way that goes beyond the technical necessities of the medium.

7. Resolving Disputes:

In cases where there’s a disagreement between the broadcasting organisation and the copyright owner regarding royalty rates or any other aspect of the statutory license, the IPAB acts as the arbitrator.

8. Stay Updated:

It’s essential to stay updated with any amendments or changes in the Copyright Act or rules formulated by the IPAB. This ensures compliance and prevents any inadvertent violations.

Related: Understanding the Open Copyright License

Conclusion

India’s rich heritage of creativity and innovation finds its modern counterpart in its bustling entertainment, literary, and technological sectors.

As creators churn out masterpieces, the need to safeguard their rights while promoting wider societal access becomes paramount.

The concept of statutory licensing in India’s copyright framework strikes this delicate balance.

By providing a legally sanctioned pathway for certain uses of copyrighted works, statutory licenses ensure that the public can benefit from creations without sidelining the rightful interests of the original creators.

As we venture deeper into the digital age, the role of such licenses will only grow in significance, underlining the need for a harmonious coexistence between individual rights and collective progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a statutory license in the context of India’s copyright law?

A statutory license is a provision in India’s Copyright Act, 1957, allowing certain users to access and use copyrighted works without obtaining direct permission from the copyright owner.

Instead, the law itself provides the framework for this use, provided users adhere to specific conditions, such as paying predetermined royalties.
 

2. Why is statutory licensing introduced in the Copyright Act?

Statutory licensing is introduced to strike a balance between protecting the rights of copyright holders and serving broader public interests.

It ensures that essential works, especially in areas like broadcasting or education, remain accessible to the public even if the copyright holder might be unwilling to grant licenses on individual terms.
 

3. How are royalty rates for statutory licenses determined in India?

The royalty rates for statutory licenses, particularly for broadcasting musical and literary works, are determined by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).

The rates are set to ensure fair compensation to the copyright holders while promoting accessibility and usage.

4. Can a copyright holder refuse a statutory license in India?

No, a copyright holder cannot refuse a statutory license if the user adheres to the conditions set out in the Copyright Act.

That’s the very essence of statutory licensing – it operates irrespective of the copyright owner’s individual consent, provided the licensee follows the mandated conditions and pays the set royalties.
 

5. Does a statutory license cover all copyrighted materials in India?

No, statutory licenses don’t cover all copyrighted materials. The Copyright Act provides specific provisions for statutory licensing, each catering to different types of works and purposes.

For instance, there are distinct provisions for broadcasting literary and musical works, cover versions of songs, and unpublished Indian works.
 

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