Saibal Chandra Pal

21st June is observed as the World Music Day (WMD) to commemorate contribution of music to human life. It coincides with the longest day of the year. Idea of celebrating this day first occurred to American musician Joel Cohen in 1976. Cohen proposed an all-night music jamboree on the summer solstice. He   was then working for the national French radio station, France Musique. Five years later the idea of Cohen was transformed into reality by the then French music and dance director of the French radio station.  WMD was first celebrated in Paris in the year 1982. Professional and amateur musicians being enthused at the celebration play music on the streets of Paris since then. On the day of celebration there is  music all round to help to usher in a different moods.  WMD is not celebrated in India in the way the French observe the day. However, with increased consciousness over the world musicians will gradually pay respect to the day in the manner the French celebrate.   In 2007, New York city first observed the day with much fanfare. Other European countries like Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy and a host of others also observe WMD.

Music means the art of combination of vocal or instrumental sounds or both to produce form, harmony and expression of emotion.  Music is for all seasons and occasions.  Music knows no age and brings delight to persons of all ages. Shelly thus wrote, `our sweetest songs are those that tell our saddest thoughts’. Music creates tunes which go with the mood. Accordingly, there are tunes for the divine form, marriage, birthday, love, war tunes and other occasions. It is difficult to name a celebration in the country without music.  `Hare Ram, Hare Krishna …..’ is a devotional tune that has traveled from the east to the west and has been planted on the lips of people world wide. The tune has united the world. There are other tunes which symbolises unity. Each county has a national anthem and it is through the national anthem the solidarity of the country is expressed.  Every important event opens with music and at the end also there is farewell music. FIFA World Cup being played at South Africa opened with a song  and would also end with music. Western music is symbolized by symphony, jazz, pop, choirs and a host of other tunes. The world hums the Christmas Carol on Christmas eve.  Music of the east world, also known as oriental music has its own style with different ragas. It has classical influence.  Western world music is influenced by Mozarat, Paul Robson, Elvis Pleasly, Beatles, Micheal Jackson and a host of others whereas eastern world music being raga based  has produced singers like Tansen, Bada Gulam Ali, Bhimsen Joshi and instrumentalists  like Bismilla Khan, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Amjad Ali and several others. Music whether western or eastern is through on creation of the masters.  Creation and originality go together and it is through originality creations flourish. Music supports dance which means movement rhythmically with music. Dance as a form of art varies with the culture of places.Western and eastern dance forms differ.

It is hard to state the exact date of birth of music. India is famous for music. Film music is popular among the masses. Playback in films is unique to India. Musical work like other art forms enjoys copyright protection. On registration under the Copyright Act, 1957 (`ACT’) the work is protected. `Musical work’ is defined in S 2(p) of the Act and means a work consisting of music and includes any graphical notation of which work but does not include any words or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music.’  The amending Act of 1993 replaced an earlier definition which extended protection only to the notation in which mainly Western music was recorded and did not suit the needs of Indian music. Owner of copyright is referred to as copyright holder. No one is allowed to reproduce the work in any material form including  storing   in any medium by electronic means,  issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation ,  perform the work in public or communicate it to the public,  make sound recording in respect of the work. In  case of sound recording a copyright holder bars any other sound recording embodying it, sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the sound recording, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions,  communicate the sound recording to the public. A copy which has been sold once is deemed to be copy already in circulation.

Music both heals and inspires. In the struggle for independence of the country many songs were penned by the likes of Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay,  Kazi Narul Islam, Satendra Nath Dutta and a host of others. Each country has a national flag and national anthem.  India has also a national song (`Bande Materam…..’). During the Chinese aggression of India  in  1962, popularly referred to as the  Nightangle of India, Lata Mangeshkar,  sang a song  in the Parliament which caused  tears to roll out of the  eyes of the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Such is the power of music. It can make and break things. Paul Robson of the west sang songs of unity and protest.  During the reign of Akbar, Tansen, the musician is said to have helped to bring showers through his enchanting music. Music keeps sleep at bay. It also brings sleep to descend on those who suffer from insomnia. It is the strength of Bollywood films. Playback singing is significant for bollywood films and musical hits are common and delights viewers. K.L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Anil Biswas, Mukesh/Manna Dey- Shankar Jaikishan, Lata/Md.Rafi – Naushad/Salil Chowdhury/Madan Mohan, Kishore Kumar- Sachin Dev Burman/R.D.Burman, Asha Bhosle- O.P.Nayar/R.D.Burman, Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt  among  many have contributed to film music and in turn  entertained the masses. Music carves out means of living for the performers. Many are crazy about music. To-day FM radio is popular and the radio is  played round the clock without stopping. The day now starts with music and ends with it. One is not required to be a performer for this. Listening to music is equally important. Music like flowers is priceless and is a source of inspiration for centuries. It is hard to find a person who does not like music. Sri Ramkrishna was fond of music and he was first attracted towards his favorite disciple Narendranath later named Swami Vivekananda because of his melodious voice.  Girish Chandra another disciple of Sri Ramkrishna won favour of the master through his plays which he enacted. The plays included music.  However, Emperor Aurangzeb banned music in his kingdom and lifted it after a short period when he found that it was a mistake to have stopped music.  Music continues to save mankind from monotony and mundane truths of life and is a great healer.

Creation and originality of music is protected through the `ACT’. It is protected for sixty years next following the year in which the work is published. The author of a copyrighted work, being the owner enjoys certain exclusive economic rights with respect to the works. These include right to reproduce, publish, adapt, translate, communicate and perform in public. The owner of a copyright can also assign, license or bequeath the right to another person.  Vishwa Bharati protected musical creations of Rabindranath Tagore. Protection was granted through Act to music created by Tagore, `Rabindra Sangeet’. Tagore referred his hobby of penning lyrics and giving tunes to his songs as his second wife which could not tolerate his writing referred as  his first wife and painting  said to be  third wife. Through this reference Tagore highlighted the importance of music in his life. He not only enjoyed music himself but has also enthralled listeners. Vishwa Bharati barred singers from distorting music created by Tagore.  A song of `Yarana’ a Hindi film starring Amitabh Bacchan was not allowed to be included in the film after resemblance to a Tagore song was detected.  The Act helped in preservation of originality of the songs created by the Noble Laureate. The world of music depends on the copyright law in force and the country must have strict law with enforcement provisions. Courts treat copyright infringement severely and those violating it are punished. Infringement leads to fine and/or imprisonment. Number of offenders imprisoned for copyright infringement is negligible.

International scenario on action taken on copyright infringement is very strict. In the year 2009 the Swedish Court passed a guilty verdict and a year in prison on 4 defendants in a copyright test case involving` The Pirate Bay’, one of the world’s biggest free file-sharing website. The verdict could be a step towards helping music and film companies seeking to re-coup millions of dollars in revenue lost through illegal downloads. Warner Bros, MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony, BMG, Universal and EMI the film and music majors also asked for damages of more than 100 million crowns ( $ 12 m ) to cover lost revenue. Court ordered the defendants to pay just over 30 million Swedish Crowns ( $3.58 m ). Defendants in  `The Private Bay’ were Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrick Neij and Carl Lundstorm who  were charged in 2008  by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offences. The accused denied the charges. Creation and originality are  sine qua non of music which enjoy  protection of copyright law once they are registered. Each country has its own law on protection of music with the fundamental objective of granting protection to it.

Significance of creation and originality can be traced from the words of J.K.Rowling, author of `Harry Potter,’ who said that `it is very difficult for someone who is not a writer to understand what it means to create something.’ `It is the closest thing to having a child.’

Entertainment industry in the country has undergone sea of change. Online business module have changed the concept of traditional revenue generating models of music industries. Music needs innovation to survive the revolution. Innovation, however, needs protection for further advancement. Delhi High Court in the case of Super Cassettes Industries Ltd., issued notice and summons against YouTube LLC and Google Inc., and  passed interim order restraining them from reproducing, adapting, distributing, communicating, transmitting, disseminating or displaying any content of the Company on their websites or otherwise infringing in any manner audio visual works in which SCIL owns exclusive, valid and subsisting copyright. The  Court further granted an injunction against business practice of You Tube of earning profits at the expense of a rightful copyright owner. Royalty of a music company is generated  from manufacturing and selling DVDs, CDs and audio cassettes of copyrighted music and from royalties collected by licensing the copyrighted music of hotels, restaurants, television companies, radio station, telecom operators and internet websites. But the website company makes profit for free, while displaying advertising on the screen and collecting revenue from the advertisement based on number of hits  on the site. Profits from the business model which is based on copyright infringement is enormous as is indicated by the fact that Google paid USD 1.65 billion in stock to acquire Youtube LLC.

Corporate Giants are trying to make profit by depriving creative outputs of artistes. Realising the need to protect artistes connected with the music world several measures have been conceived. Creation and originality must be respected and preserved. They should not be allowed to die without their due. Creators need to be rewarded to encourage them in their quest to excel in their field. Many a talent left this world without getting their due. Jaidev a music director of Bollywood who gave the world several tunes to be hummed and gave the kingdom of Nepal their first great musical film hit died without a shelter of his own and his body did not find a place to go back from the hospital before his cremation. The incident is illustrative and not exhaustive. Payment of royalty to music composers is being included in the Copyright Act through the intended amendment. After the amendment music composers of films would have to fight their own battle when charges of infringement are brought.  In a recently enforced copyright rule, pandals in West Bengal during pujas are required to pay Rs 500/- for playing music to Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a Government registered body that has been functioning as the performing rights society for sound recordings to protect any kind of infringement. Offenders are liable to pay a fine of Rs 2 lac and might face also imprisonment upto a maximum period of 3 years. However, small para pujas retaining old world community feelings have been exempted from making such payments.

In the judgment , Supreme Court in the case, Academy of General Education Vs. B Malini Mallya, Late Kota Shivaram Karanth , a many sided genius evolved a new form of ballet as director of the academy. He had made a will through which he vested the copyright in his works to Malini Mallya, who looked after him in his old age. A ballet was staged in Delhi in 2001 as a tribute to Kota Shivaram Karanth to which Ms Mallya objected as a violation of her copyright and demanded compensation from the academy.  Question arose as to the status of the ballet – was it a `literary work’ because it could be read as dramatic literature (like a play of Shakespeare) or `dramatic work’ ? The answer seemed difficult. The Act gives examples of literary work, which includes compilations and computer data bases. “Performer “includes actors, singers and even snake charmers. But when literature and performance covers the same work, the position is not very clear. Karnataka High Court felt that dramatic works are a form of literature. According to it,” dramatic works also could contain in its passages of great literary taste. Neither the literary work nor the dramatic work can be produced without the imaginative skill of the author.”  Apex Court held otherwise that there was distinction between the two according to the Act. Copyright in respect of performance of ballet would come within the purview of a literary work. Impact of this interpretation is not clear at the moment and it would take a more complex egg or chicken case to explain the law further. Supreme Court ultimately cut the Gordian Knot at this stage by allowing the academy to stage the ballet under certain conditions mentioned in this Act itself that is, before its students, staff and parents, performance by amateur clubs before a non-paying audience, or for the benefit of religious institution.

US is considering bringing in Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA is designed to combat the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and copyright protected works. India should also think in the same line to take steps to bring in legislation similar to ACTA to safeguard its Internet Providers against copyright infringement. It will help to combat increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works.

Music is a subject covered by copyright. While law is in place there is little knowledge of the implementation of the same. Creation and originality are destroyed by copying and means adopted to avoid payment of monetary compensation to the contributors of delight through music to the connoisseurs. Through music the world stands united.  There are two classes of people. While on the one side there are the musicians to entertain on the other side there is the audience to derive pleasure. Celebration of the World Music Day each year requires celebration with greater awareness. When we can have new years day each year and a host of other days why can’t we celebrate WMD like the other countries.   It is expected that the years ahead will make the day more distinguished. This, however, requires total awakening among the connoisseurs. Long live music and the day marked for its  celebration. The Act must be strengthened to protect it otherwise the world will continue remain deprived. Let us not forget that India is a nation of Tansen and Lalan Fakir.  Music  created must be respected and protected and not be copied or  ignored. Each creation has value and cannot be set aside. Law cannot replace mass awareness of the need for protection of creation of music for it is the inspiration of music that inspires and refreshes human mind. World Music Day , 21st June each year will surely find its rightful place in the Indian sub-continent to remind  the value of creation and originality in music that keeps the masses enthralled.

Author: Saibal C.Pal  email:

Edited:  Neha Doshi & Priti Choudhary

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0 responses to “WORLD MUSIC DAY – Reminder to protect creation, originality & the Copyright Act, 1957”

  1. Suhita Mukhopadhyay says:

    was not aware of WMD.article indeed a pleasant reading with touches of knowledge of copyright and its importance

    Thank You
    CS Suhita Mukhopadhyay

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