Isaignani has reportedly sent a notice to SP Balasubrahmanyam threatening legal consequences if the singer performed his compositions during live shows. Film personalities share their opinions with City Express
SP Balasubrahmanyam announced on Facebook that his troupe “can’t perform Ilaiyaraaja’s compositions” on stage, as the latter had issued a legal notice to the singer claiming that his compositions could not be used without prior permission. Replying to a fan’s question, SPB said, “The situation could have been avoided if Ilaiyaraaja had spoken to me.”
He clarifi ed that his “intention was to prepare his audience” about the unfortunate development, and requested his fans not to have “any harsh opinion and discussions”. Sources say that the two had a fall out when SPB didn’t join Ilaiyaraja’s US tour last year. Ilaiyaraaja had earlier fi led cases against audio companies that were using his compositions without paying him proper royalty. He had also sent a legal notice to director Shankar a couple of years ago for ‘remixing’ his composition Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu without his consent in Kappal (2014).
The song was originally used in the Ramarajanstarrer Karagattakkaran (1989). Ilaiyaraaja has issued legal notice to KS Chithra and SP Charan too, Speaking to CE, Charan said, “We’re celebrating SPB50. He has sung for many music directors and Ilaiyaraaja is just one of them.” CE speaks to a few fi lm personalities and here is what they had to say.
It is Raja sir’s music, and he has all the rights over it. I don’t know much about this, and to be honest, it seems highly contentious and unclear. As an Ilaiyaraaja fan, I would like to hear more of his music. However, I hope it can be sorted out in such a way that we don’t get deprived of the music we have come to love, resonate with and adopt as part of ourselves.
Madhumita Vijay, fi lmmaker
IP rights always starts with where the germ of the idea came from. It goes back to the age old question in the industry if the creator owns it or the commissioner (the producer) owns it, which is almost always why a clear agreement helps to clarify. Usually, creators (directors, writers and/or music directors) hold rights until it goes on fi lm. After that, it becomes a creation only because it has had fi nancial input from the producer. AR Rahman and some other music directors have started insisting that IP rights remain with them and they benefi t directly from purchase instead of the producer. Again I don’t know enough to take sides but I do hear that a company owns the rights for Raja sir’s songs. The others who have been part of the production of the fi lm/song are sadly never part of the equation, because according to the industry, it becomes the vision of the creator, commissioned by the producer and executed by the rest of the team.
Vijay Antony, music director-produceractor- lyricist
In music, we have a great tradition of give and take. Songs are the property of the audio companies and I don’t think a music director can claim sole rights over his compositions. We don’t know what actually happened between Raja sir and SPB. So, we can’t say who is right or wrong. To my understanding, the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) controls the rights and distribution of royalties. It acts as the mediator between two parties. We never had such issues in the past because there was less exposure to the Internet.
C Sathya, singer-music director
I think Raja sir has reached a stage where he can do these things, but other musicians, unfortunately, can’t. Audio rights market has become more competitive. A South-based audio label head, said that audio companies own exclusive rights on the copyrights of songs. The IPRS can claim royalty only when the song is performed live or another song is recorded, or the original song is remixed.
Siddharth Vipin, music director-actor
I think Raja sir has his own audio label called Isai, and the rights of his songs belong to him. I’m no expert to comment on this, but when it comes to royalty — one third is with the composer, the other third is with the lyricist and the rest is with the audio label. Everybody has an equal share in it. But since composers get payment in the beginning, some audio companies feel they only have the rights. The case between IPRS and audio labels is still on in the Supreme Court. Singers fi ght for royalty these days. They give their inputs during the recording sessions. But composers spend two months to convince a producer to have a particular singer on board.
They come, listen to the tunes, and sing for two to three hours. Singers make a lot of money during live shows. What composers feel is, you can give them a share of the profi t since it’s their composition. In South India, nobody is aware of the law and provisions. In fact, I had no clue until I worked with technicians in Mumbai. They’re very professional. I learned about fi nancial law and services taxes. I am supposed to pay service tax to singers from the money I get from my producers. Singers are supposed to charge service tax on me. I don’t know how many of us know this! In the North, for every transaction, they process bills and invoice. When you work beyond 6 pm, you are paid ‘over time’. They courier the bills to my home. I feel it’s time the labels, the industry, the musicians and lyricists fi nd ways to monetise music. Even globally, we are yet to fi gure out the best way to monetise revenue from recorded music