CopyrightsIntellectual Property

Copyrights of Music in India -Things You Need to Know

Music is a booming industry and with the growth of technology, it is reaching more people than ever before. So, it is more important now than ever to protect the copyright of music.

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Music is a form of art that is tangible and intangible. Copyrighting a song can protect the rights of the creator and help them financially too. In this concise write-up, we will understand the copyrights of music in India. Discover the step by step process of registering any music for copyright and the punishment for infringing it.

Copyright generally belongs to the creator. For instance, recently Mr Ilayaraja has said that people need his permission to use his music anywhere. For example, if in a particular movie they want to play his music, he has to give his approval, therefore, his permission is a must. Film artists and musicians are unable to secure themselves financially like the actors or others in the film industry despite their brilliance, therefore, getting copyright means they have rights over their music.

How Can We Copyright

There are many steps to copyright music. While copyright is an automatic right, it is safer to register your copyrights especially when it involves the possibility of making money. 

Basic Procedure:

  • The first thing is to record the song in a manner that is tangible
  • Register for an account at the copyright office or website
  • Pay the registration fee
  • Submit the copy of the song to the council
  • The final step is to wait for the registration to be processed.

These are the basic steps that have to be followed.

Expiration of Copyright:

Copyright protection generally lasts for sixty years. In the case of original literary, music, and artworks the sixty-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author.


Punishment for Infringement:

When a person is committing a copyright infringement which is using the other person’s work or any other issues relating to copyright, it is considered to be a crime. The punishment may extend to imprisonment of up to three years and the accused will also be liable to a fine of up to two lakh rupees.

Registration is not mandatory. But when issues arise in court, having a copyright registration acts as key evidence for the owner. This way they don’t have to struggle to prove their rights while they are trying to prove how their rights were infringed.

Singers Rights

Section 38 of the Copyright Act, as amended in 2012 recognises performers rights were the commercially recorded song for 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year of next following year in which the performance is made. During this period, the performance of music cannot be recorded nor published without the assent of the performer.

The person has the right to receive a royalty in case their performances or music are commercially utilised. But when the singer signs over their rights to another person then royalty cannot be claimed. Everyone except the copyright holder needs to get permission and pay a royalty to the performer or owner of the music


Anything can be copyrighted not only music but ideas, literary works, etc. The main purpose/goal of copyright is to avoid copying and give the owner the absolute right over their creation. By obtaining copyright, they make money which is the fruit obtained for their brilliance and also get recognition. Therefore, copyrights of music in India have become more effective after the 2012 amendment. 

In a gist, to copyright a song one has to record it, then make an account on the official site, pay a fee, submit the song and then await the copyright. If granted, the copyright for a commercially recorded song lasts for up to 60 years. Illegally performing, distributing, or selling it can lead to a hefty fine and jail term.


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