Bollywood faces royalty issues

The royalty issue that has gripped Bollywood is getting bigger with each passing day. Artists feel the core creative group — that includes composer, lyricist and singer — behind a song are paid a low amount while producers earn millions if the song becomes a hit. Hence, the artist community wants an amendment in the Copyright Act.

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) The royalty issue that has gripped Bollywood is getting bigger with each passing day. Artists feel the core creative group — that includes composer, lyricist and singer — behind a song are paid a low amount while producers earn millions if the song becomes a hit. Hence, the artist community wants an amendment in the Copyright Act.

First there was an altercation between Aamir Khan and Javed Akhtar and now a spat between Sonu Nigam and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. However, both the music fraternity and the producers are standing firm on their respective stands.

One example of this being a heated outburst of ‘3 Idiots’ producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra at a meeting held for talks regarding the issue. According to eyewitnesses, when Sonu Nigam presented the demands of the music fraternity, Chopra called the demand unreasonable and the two got into an ugly argument, vowing not to work with each other again.

‘This issue about the royalties was long overdue. We had to stand for our rights some or the other day. We know, we are making a justified demand,’ composer Annu Malek told IANS.

‘Composers are just paid a certain amount and if the song becomes a hit, all the money that is earned from it, goes to the producers. Why are composers left behind? Why just one pay cheque for them?’ he added.

The music fraternity is demanding a 50 percent share of a film’s music earnings to be equally divided between the composers and the singers. The demand has not gone down well with filmmakers.

Expressing his view on the ongoing tussle between artists and producers, Sulaiman Merchant of composer duo Salim-Sulaiman said: ‘I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. The problem is that nobody is willing to have a dialogue and understand what the matter is all about.’

‘The need of the hour is a forum where personal allegations or otherwise should be put aside and to actually understand what the proposal is,’ he added.

‘Even Mr. Kapil Sibal (human resource development minister) understands our plight…I’m sure the bill will be passed,’ said Malek.

In the past, Lata Mangeshkar demanded half of the five percent of a song’s royalty. Though not easy, Lata finally had her way.

However, all have not been lucky. The situation has always been so bad that most music artists struggle throughout their lives.

‘There have been artists who have been doing great works but never got their full due and struggled their entire life. Even my father Shri Sardar Malik fought a royalty battle,’ said Malek.

The situation abroad is different. The music artists are given equal rights to the song.

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai also believes that things should work the way they do in the West.

‘We should adopt all Hollywood policies, since we are moving in that direction. That will be better for all,’ he told IANS.

Meanwhile, most producers are sticking to their stance. Vashu Bhagnani was quoted as saying: ‘If they are demanding profit, they should also share the loss. Out of 90 songs, 10 work, what about the rest?’

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