Music Law

Intellectual Property Rights for Musicians Part 2 – with Priyanka Khimani
Whenever I meet people who wants to build career in Sound, their first question is – I want to be a Sound Engineer / Music Producer, where do I start and what is the feasibility of a career in this field?

The answer to this is not a simple one. First it’s important to understand what the difference between a sound engineer, a music producer and a musician is. Most enthusiasts come to me with the idea that they want to build a career in the field of sound, but are unaware about what these fields are to begin with.

What is the Plan Of Action when a client is not paying?

Quoting Priyanka Khimani “Non-payment or recovery of money is the most common problem that clients will come to us for at least in our contentious practice group, a bunch of questions that we ask do you have anything in writing is there an invoice did you have an agreed sum sometimes yes sometimes no whatsapps text messages everything’s fair play fair game that’s fine right number one if you have that if there was an agreed if there’s a sum that you did tell them great that helps question number two is that have you finished your deliverable right is there something pending at your end so let’s assume for the sake of this conversation everything’s done I’ve delivered it’s gone it’s been utilized right great number three like you meant what you brought up is it an admitted debt right because that makes life a whole lot simpler more often than not if the person is just sort of you know skirting the issue is just delay. So long as the person is not expressly denying the money or to you it is an admitted debt okay right number four who is the person who owes you this money what’s the when I say that is it a proprietorship? Is it a partnership? Is it an LLP? or is it a company? right based on what the nature of the other person’s existence is you have different remedies.
Today you have something called the insolvency and bankruptcy code that was introduced a couple of years ago in 2016. it was largely introduced to help people that are owed money especially but only applicable against companies so wherever the debtor is a company it’s great you just need to send them a demand notice under the insolvency and bankruptcy code iit acts it you know more often than not you will see companies sitting down across the table reaching out and saying okay we pay you because the consequence of non-payment or of having a debt for a company then is that you could potentially move for liquidation of a bankruptcy which means that not just you as a creditor but every creditor can get attached to that petition and stand in the line of creditors and everyone will get paid for your 50 000 one lakh five lakhs I can’t afford to have my entire company declared insolvent neither do I want some five other people getting up so more often than not you will see that we’d end up recovering money using that if not that it’s it’s difficult when the person is a proprietorship because what is it it’s an individual right then I mean so which is why again when you’re dealing with the person ask these questions before right what’s the nature of the person that i’m contracting with that i’m dealing with is it an individual so many times people will say- drum roll music for example so i’ll ask someone that okay what is drum roll music let’s say proprietorship company I said darling there’s nothing like a proprietorship company it’s either a proprietorship or it’s a company then I have to spell it out for them I said okay does it say drumroll music private limited company here still don’t take their word for it go look it up you have a website it’s called mca dot gov dot in it’s a database of all the companies and LLPs in this country it’s as simple as that go put in the name you’ll get all of the information so you know for a fact whether or not it’s a company and you’re not guessing right um so it’s easy if you’re we I mean obviously contracting with proprietors is difficult because it’s an individual at the end of the day so if there is you know you wrote money and they don’t want to pay it how are you going to recover their recovery is painful sure you could file a suit there are other things you can do but you probably spend more money than you’d ever see at the end of the tunnel with companies today you have companies LLPs even partnerships actually to a certain extent you have a lot of tools mechanisms demand notices just pure recovery notices but send a damn notice and start just complaining. Yes this person has a reputation for not paying what are you doing why are you not just writing a stinker to them you don’t need a lawyer to teach how to write a stink or to write one for you just right and get them to stop using your works why strike it down go on and strike it down that’s it see how that gets them to come in live performance is slightly trickier because you’ve already handed out the work right you’ve performed your services and that’s that’s in any case I think just smart business advices don’t do things without an advanced man definitely so the first half usually as by rule now I get before I start work but not for life because I’ll trust you until you let me down and then the one time you let me down then things I think it’s the same across services that’s just how the service sector functions sadly”.

Can such situations be dealt professionally without things getting too ugly?

Priyanka goes on to say ”Have you not already burnt a bridge by this person constantly by you constantly chasing this person perpetual hope that so so yeah you know sometimes on film product projects production managers are so scummy that do during the duration of this project they’ll do everything they can to you out of your money but then as soon as it’s done and you meet him for the next project everything you guys are best friends again and then you dance that whole dance can I tell you something more often than not the people who actually own the production company don’t even realize that they’re production managers of course but why are you dealing with them which is why i’m saying right right to the main guys tag the directors bring it to someone’s attention somewhere basically position to do something and they threaten us with you will never work again type repercussions and everyone knows it’s a but why do we also go that extremely frustrated that by that then when we want to take action also it’s like you know it’s not different one extreme yeah why just you know there’s a way to be polite yet firm so okay so I mean there is a way that we can recover our dues from these people for live shows without necessarily never getting work from them again one in a way that maybe they’d respect us for what we’ve done 100 there’s a gentler nicer professional way of doing it and it has been done”.

What is right and legal way to post covers?

“So you going to do another sure version you’re going to use that melody and the lyrics and do your own take on it right yeah it’s a lyric then yes I’m going to use it hard that’s all he does in it he just screams okay so find out find out who owns it okay uh the artist may not necessarily own the rights or he may right uh you’d need a license from him to be able to create another version and because there is a video so it’s a video being slapped onto an audio so you synchronize the video to the audio and therefore you also need a sync license okay right and in addition to that I don’t want to make the video not that’s not it but afterwards you’re going to communicate that video to the public right because copies will be right made so you also will need a public performance license again so public performance is not just when you are performing live but right communication to the all communication to the public is going to need a public performance license so very often when we do sync licenses people will pay the rights holder and then they get so taken aback when we say that oh but this is not it you also need a public performance license or license for even on the for reproduction right say for example if it’s on a streaming service right even the process of streaming is making a cache copy so that is what we call as reproduction because there is storage it is being stored somewhere on the server and a copy is being made temporarily right so that you can stream it right so both those rights at times are covered by a public performance organization um so you’re going to need that license in addition to this adaptation and sync license so all of this put together gives you a hundred percent go ahead for you to go ahead and make your version so 99 of the people slapping the covers on youtube and then when it gets yes they are so a lot of platforms take blanket licenses so that user generated content can continue to stay online very often a lot of people come in and telling me um depends there but very often I’ll have people coming and telling me that oh but this you know I could put these you know this person’s version is still online how come they struck down only my video but to that my simple answer is right it doesn’t make the nine times legal that’s some useful some good advice there yeah just because you got away with it a few times doesn’t mean you should get away with it it’s the exact same thing right but yeah it needs to be licensed it is being licensed somewhere at the back end someone somewhere in that chain is obtaining a license so that those works continue to be online take a simple example of your insta stories where now you have you can insert those music clips at the back right so that is being licensed by the platform the plan that’s why sometimes you’ll say that sorry this work is not available in your region right because perhaps there are limitations with that specific license whoever was the right holder was not in a position to extend it to your territory here but the point that i’m trying to make is that it is licensed at the end of the day that’s how you get to use that music in your stories right you user generated content ugc just come get there when you upload that UGCC it’s a you know funny video of your dog and your balance curry playing in the background it stays on instagram because instagram as a platform is you know going through the trouble of putting blanket licenses in place so that user experience doesn’t suffer okay right but now when you do something specific that is for you and you have a brand associated with etc you’re going to need a separate sync license because at times that might that’s not purely user generated content right it’s not something you’re doing for fun you’re doing it because there’s another game there’s another aspect to it so for that you’ll still need a specific license and there you need a adaptation sync license or definitely a sync license if you’re using the sound recording as is this video and then yeah because there’s a video and then you need your relevant reproduction public performance license to be able to communicate to the public right see again something that I would never have figured out because you go to youtube you see people saying I don’t own the right story all the time so we’re doing this to a false section on my insta page every monday okay where are we trying to bust a lot of these myths a video all of this right that can use If I use up to 30 seconds it’s okay it’s not infringement I saw that and I was going to ask you about specifically that yeah and then they’ll have a bunch of things that okay I can uh you know cover someone else’s song so long asIdon’t monetize it or if I give them credit for it uh all sorts of things right the answer is no i’ll let you find out next monday [Laughter]
But coming back to the 30 seconds right so that’s that’s like a big favorite ido it in all my workshops whereIsort of ask people that okay tell me what’s the correct duration it’s obviously throw them off but i get all sorts of i’m no you’re taking my punchline away sorry edit that out we can start again i’m sorry okay it’s like people will say 15 seconds and uh six seconds or 43 seconds like I get really specific random numbers uh but no the correct answer is zero right right no one says zero no one says it and well don’t know where people get these numbers from or from where this notion has gotten into people’s heads that I can use up to 30 seconds and it’s not infringement again you know if you had created some amazing piece of music and some dude was taking 20 seconds of it and put it in their song that then went viral are you gonna be okay you’re gonna be like no i don’t care if it’s just 20 seconds right yeah every second of unauthorized use is infringement period there is no concept of you know this 30 seconds 15 seconds bit under the copyright act whether you’re profiting or not doesn’t matter it’s not the test at all again yeah i’m glad you brought that up like commercial gain a lot of people will say that oh but i’m not monetizing it or it’s a student project or something along those lines it’s it’s so ed there are certain exemptions under the copyright law even under the indian copyright act as far as the review or critique is concerned or during the course of education a teacher giving instructions to his students”.

Get in touch!

If you guys have another other questions you would like to shoot at me, just shoot me a mail at ronak@gray-spark.com.
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