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Musicians making up piracy losses by IPRS royalties

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PTI: As proliferation of pirated music CDs and illegal downloading of songs from the Internet cost annual losses of Rs 1200 crore to the industry, musicians are now banking on a new way of earning royalties. Under the initiative of the copyright body Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), hundreds of lyricists, composers and music companies earn handsome royalties each time you groove to their tunes at a hotel or a discotheque.

Late music composer Salil Chowdhury's wife Sabita, who hardly got any royalty from the album sales of his evergreen numbers, now earns around than Rs 4 lakh on an average each year as royalties earned from IPRS, which collects Public Performance License fees from all playing music commercially.

"Most of the music companies don't pay me royalties as the legal heir to my husband. Artistes are always lost in their own world of creativity so we are unable to keep track of all these things. But through IPRS, I am happy to be earning regular royalties," she told PTI.

The Burmans, which has produced the iconic father-son duo of S D Burman and R D Burman, has similar tales as they have earned more than Rs 1 crore by way of IPRS royalties in the last four years, officials of the Society said. Veteran musician Mrinal Bandyopadhyay, now in his seventies, says the royalty cheques he receives each year helps him take care of his expenses in old age. According to industry figures, the physical sales of recorded music has dropped by 5 per cent to Rs 299 crore in 2010 while digital sales and revenues through performing rights have increased by over 40 per cent to Rs 432 crore.

"Over the years, consumption of music has increased by "Over the years, consumption of music has increased by 50 per cent but monetisation has fallen by 50 per cent. This is because newer formats have come up for making music available," says IPRS CEO Rakesh Nigam.

Besides families of other late music personalities like Pulak Bandyopadhyay and Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, prominent Bollywood musicians like AR Rahman, Anu Malik, Gulzar and Bappi Lahiri are all members of IPRS. Under the Copyright Act, 1957, the Society is the exclusive licensing authority for public performances of live or recorded tracks. The license fees collected from hotels, restaurants, pubs, shopping malls, etc for playing commercial music are distributed as royalty to its members - lyricists, composers and music companies.

IPRS has also been demanding royalties from FM channels and television reality shows. IPRS gives 30 per cent of its net collection to the composer, 20 per cent to the lyric writer and 50 per cent to the music company. IPRS' regional manager Avishek Basu says some of the commercial establishments in Kolkata were still not paying them license fees. "We have even sent them legal notices and will take them to court if they continue to violate the copyright of our members," he says.

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