Copyright law for wedding pomp mooted
Special Correspondent THE HINDU
‘Musical extravaganza violates Copyrights Act’
National conference on Copyright Act concludes
Move to make law friendly to developing nations
KOCHI: Should performance by hired disc jockeys or highly-paid popular singers at wedding receptions, common among the well-off classes, be exempted from the copyright law?
No, feels G.R. Raghavender, deputy secretary and registrar of copyrights in the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). While singing of songs and other music performances during wedding ceremonies is a cultural tradition in India and have been exempted from the law under Section 52(1) (za) of the Act, the musical extravaganza at wedding receptions needs to be brought under the copyright law, he says.
“There is a need for making a distinction between normal music performance during a wedding reception and the performance by disc jockeys or video jockeys or film actors and popular singers engaged through event managers by paying substantial amounts of remuneration,” Mr. Raghavender argued at a national conference on copyright law’s limitations and exceptions. “The latter is in conflict with normal exploitation of the work by the author or right holder.”
Section 52 (1) (za) (which exempts “the performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work or the communication to the public of such work or of a sound recording in the course of any bona fide religious ceremony or an official ceremony held by the Central Government or the State Government or any local authority”) also keeps wedding procession and other social festivities, which are defined as part of religious ceremony, out of the ambit of the Copyright Act.
(The Copyright Act protects literary and dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, including maps and technical drawings, photographs and audiovisual works, among other things. The rights recognised by copyright include the right to copy or otherwise reproduce a work; the right to perform it; the right to make a film or sound recording of the work; the right to communicate it to the public by broadcasting it or other means; the right to translate it and the right to make adaptations of it.)
Mr. Raghavender pointed out that the 1994 amendment to the Indian Copyright Act 1957 permitting wedding processions and other social festivities associated with marriage under the cover of religious ceremonies was criticised by some people. They had argued that marriage was a social institution, not a religious one. To them, since marriage itself was not associated with religion, the inclusion of wedding procession and other social festivities as part of religious ceremony was fallacious. They had also argued that ostentation and heavy spending on music performance at wedding receptions were undesirable and hence it was okay that the copyright owners were paid their due for the performance of music or sound recordings.
Mr. Raghavender, however, felt that while wedding and related festivities were essentially religious in nature, the expensive music and other lavish entertainment should be covered by the copyright law.
The two-day national conference, organised by the Cochin University of Science and Technology and sponsored by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry, ended here recently with recommendations to make the law friendly to the needs of the developing countries.