Javed Akhtar takes copyright issue to global platform

Jun 17, 2011 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, June 17 (IANS) Well-known Bollywood writer Javed Akhtar has taken his fight for royalty to lyricists to an international platform.

He addressed the World Copyright Summit in Brussels last week and was praised by Summit chairperson Robin Gibb of the popular 1970s American rock band the BeeGees.

"I have witnessed with great pleasure that India has made some major steps forward towards the recognition of authors' rights. And I salute Javed Akhtar, who is here in the audience, and who has led the fight for this recognition," said Robin who is the president of the Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

While Akhtar refrained from comment, a source from the World Copyright Summit said: "At the World Copyright Summit in Brussels, Javed Akhtar was interviewed by fellow composer and PRS For Music (the UK branch of the world copyright organization) board member Simon Darlow about his career in India and the potential amendments to copyright law which will see royalties flow back to songwriters, composers and authors.

Javed Akhtar took it upon himself to launch the fight for authors and composers rights in India. Facing a lot of opposition, he sent numerous letters to political representatives, ministers and members of parliament and got several supporters such as sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, to spread his message about the lack of royalties for composers and songwriters in India.

He accused local collection society IPRS (the Indian Performing Rights Society) of using the rights of authors and composers for the benefit of studios and cinemas and producers.

Despite a 30-year career as an artist, he said, he "knew nothing about authors' rights" and that performance or mechanical rights were not mentioned in his contracts.

"But my troubles really started when I applied for a position as a member of the board of the IPRS," said Akhtar.

"I understood that it was urgent to convince the government to amend the law so that they protect the authors and to make sure that it is properly implemented. Today, we are about to reach our dream. The law will be passed in the coming months. The IPR will have to comply with the new law and pay composers fair remuneration," he added.

Akhtar was invited by the World Copyright Summit to tell his story and he said: "Thank you for your support. By doing so you have helped to change perceptions in India and have ensured that proper, due rights will be recognised in my country."

Javed's interview was very well received.

Guy Fletcher, chairman of PRS (the Performing Right Society) for Music, said: "India is one of the most populous nations in the world and its copyright administration has remained a mystery to us for decades. Javed Akhtar threw a very bright light upon this subject at the copyright summit, enabling us to better understand the injustices all Indian creators have been suffering.

"His vision of copyright management on behalf of creators appears to be encapsulated in the amendment to the Copyright Act that is about to be presented to the Indian parliament. We can only hope that this will have a major impact on the way copyright is managed in the sub-continent and many other nations in Asia."

Javed Akhtar Pictures


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