| A still from Saathiya
Mumbai, April 22: The Kaanta Laga remix — dubbed thong, not song — may be illicit for many reasons, but not for its choice of music.
The industry, which has suffered huge losses since remixes have been rampant, came together today to ask for the deletion of a section in the copyright law that makes cover versions legal. Because together with the popularity of FM channels, that is the latest problem with the country’s music industry, comatose already from piracy.
“We have lost Rs 150 crore to cover versions, which stand for songs re-recorded by a different singer and remixes,” said Savio D’Souza, general secretary of Indian Music Industry, an organisation of music companies, at a news conference. The conference was attended by heads of music companies and former police officer Julio Ribeiro, who heads the organisation’s anti-piracy operations.
Calling the music “legitimate piracy”, the body said the law has to be amended to stop remixes.
“Article 52 (1) (j) of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) permits recording of a different version of an original song merely two years after it has been released by paying a minimum royalty of 5 per cent to the owner. Other than extensive dilution of the original works, the covers and remixes also cause heavy losses to the authors and owners of the originals through loss of sales,” said Aveek Mitra, head of Sa Re Ga Ma. The organisation said these cover versions account for one-fourth of the total losses due to piracy.
“We lose Rs 600 crore due to piracy every year, which includes such music,” said D’Souza. That is 50 per cent of the country’s music industry, worth around Rs 1,200 crore.
Vijay Lazarus, chief of Universal Music and the music body’s president, said the stocks at the big stores only represent 10 to 15 per cent of the total remix and cover market. “It’s a cottage industry. There is a huge amount of such music being churned out everywhere, in so many languages,” said Lazarus.
FM radio channels, though reported to have made a loss of Rs 120 crore, are also playing their part in bleeding the music industry to death. “Due to FM, there has been a 37 per cent dip in record sales and a decline of 33 per cent in listenership hours,” said D’Souza.
“FM channels play the same song a number of times, after which the listener does not want to buy the CD or cassette,” said Mitra.
The music of the Vivek Oberoi-Rani Mukherjee starrer, Saathiya, Mitra said, was a hit, but the sales have reached only Rs 10 lakh. “Three to four years ago, the figures should have reached Rs 30 to 40 lakh.”
“That’s also because people have been listening to the same song five or six times daily,” Mitra added.
He said the organisation has asked for a “fair price” for airtime on radio channels and the matter is sub judice.
The main culprit, however, remains conventional piracy, but aided and abetted by latest technology.
The music body said with cheap CD-R technology allowing faster duplication and at a much lower cost than the original, piracy has become alarming.
“It’s so easy that most of the copying is done in homes,” said V. Balachandran, a retired Cabinet secretary who is part of the team that conducts raids on such manufacturing units.