To combat music privacy and avoid disparity, it is essential to be aware of the law in general.
April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day, which makes this the perfect occasion to talk about copyrighting music.
A B M Hamidul Mishbah, founder of Bangladesh Copyright and IP forum, gave a simple explanation to the legal aspect behind this crucial need.
A famous local musician who has been honoured several times with the title of best lyricist by the Bangladesh national film awards and has released over 21,000 songs, recently visited a lawyer with a query. A company had used his song without any permission. After going through the case rigorously, it was revealed that the song doesn’t belong to him either. In fact, these musical assets belonged to the director of the movie himself. Even an experienced musician is unaware of his rights and how to get them.
The above story is not uncommon. It is a simple representation of how creative people are spinning in confusion over their intellectual property rights.
“When you think about a song, the first impression that usually comes to mind is that it is a combination of words and melody. As the basic elements of music, it is thereby understood that the copyright of a particular song goes to the creator of the songs and the lyrics.” Via patents, creators are then benefited with economic and moral rights.
An economic right is one that an inventor has for his entire lifetime along with an additional 60 years after his death. This right can also be transferred. Writing and producing music is not the end of the musical route when you want to ensure that the tune prevails in the listeners' hearts. You need to be able to make this song available to society. This is where labels enter the picture. In charge of recording, distributing and getting the music all the way to listeners, they play a major role. Hamidul Mishbah refers to the involvement of labels to be a mechanical right. Every artist has a different percentage ownership based on their label's contract. The exact percentage of ownership is negotiable with labels.
The moral right will exist indefinitely. It is non transferable yet strictly safeguarded to take care of the root essence of a particular kind of art constructed by inventors. Hamidul Mishbah says, “A lot of infringement is occurring in the name of modernising or giving this industry a more contemporary feeling. Still, the law doesn't support, even to a minor extent, the changes taking place in melody or lyrics. By taking permission from appropriate authorities change may come about. However, the authentic flavour has to be there. Despite this, alteration is being practised all over the country.”
The main reason behind this may be the lack of knowledge among practitioners about this particular aspect of copyright. While explaining the scenario, he mentioned all the famous and rich genres of Bengali music such as Rabindra or Nazrul Shangeet, mentioning that these are being deprived of this practice.
Many people might wonder, where is the right place for the singer or performer? They have got the authority on related rights. If anyone or any organisation wants to resell, reuse or work with a singer or performer's previous work, only then permission is needed from them.
In our country, music has another significance, in that it is often a way to recall a movie. So considering this, why does the authority of musical work go to the producer of the film? According to Hamidul Mishbah, although the producer holds the copyright, the musicians can claim the copyright through a negotiation with the producer during the primary stages of production.
In 2014, a collective management organisation licensed a CMO on live performance with the collaboration of a lyricist, a composer and a performer. This is definitely a new start, but there is still a long way to go to properly understand and execute copyright laws.