Role of Copyright Societies in India

Role of Copyright Societies in India

Corporate Law Intellectual Property LAW EXPLAINED Others
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In general, Authors and various performers get many requests from people who want to broadcast, reproduce, adapt or otherwise use their work. In such cases, it can be difficult for them to keep track of all these requests from such people. It can be very time consuming for authors and owners of copyrighted work. In such situations, Authors can rely upon the services of Collective management organizations. These organizations help to create a link between authors and such people who want to use their work.  These organizations are known as the Copyright Societies.

“Copyright is a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used.” [1]


The term ‘copyright Society’ is defined under the Copyright Act 1957[2]. It can be defined as a collective administrative society registered under sec 33 of the said act. Minimum seven members are required for registration of copyright Society. Copyright Society can issue a license in respect of any work which is copyrighted.  However, the Central government can terminate the registration of copyright Society under section 33(4) and 33(5)[3].  Registration of Copyright Society can be terminated for one month in cases where the interest of Authors are concerned.


Section 34(3) of the said act provides the functions of the Copyright Society as mentioned below:

  • Issuing license with respect to any copyrighted work [4] and collecting fees for such license.
  • Distributing collected fees among the authors after deducting their own share.
  • Under Section 35, the copyright Society must obtain the approval of the Author for collecting fees. Apart from this, society must provide full-fledged information to the author concerning all its activities.
  • It needs to frame a scheme to determine the remuneration for copyright owners as mentioned under section 34(2) of the said act.


Section 33(3) of the Act provides for the registration of copyright Society. The central government can register it after making the following observations:

  • Interest of Public and interest of people who are seeking a license.
  • Interest of owners and authors.
  • Competence of applicants.

However, the central Government cannot register more than one Copyright society in respect of a class of works. The registration granted to Copyright Society shall be for a period of five years [5]. However, it can be renewed from time to time. Following are some copyright Societies which are registered till now:

  • Cinematograph Films (Society for Copyright regulation of Indian Producers of Film and Television)
  • Musical works( Indian performing right society limited )
  • Sound recording ( Phonographic performance limited)
  • Literary work (The Indian reprographic right organization)

Apart from this, it must publish its Tariff scheme under section 33A of the act. Any person can appeal to the copyright board who is aggrieved of such Tariff scheme. Copyright board can fix the interim tariff after hearing the parties and it can direct aggrieved parties to make payment accordingly.


Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 was enacted in order to establish a proper framework for protecting the rights of owners. In 2012 Amendment, section 33(3A) was added, which provide new guideline that any copyright society carrying out the business of issuing copyright licence must register itself again within the period of 12 months from the date of the amendment.


[1] Stephan Fishman

[2] Section 2(ffd)

[3] Copyright Act 1957

[4] Section 30 of Copyright Act 1957

[5] Section (3-A) of Copyright Act 1957

This blog is written by Sarthak Batra, Fairfield Institute of Management & Technology.

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