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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.


Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creator of an original work, enabling them to control the use and distribution of their creation. In the context of music, copyright protects the rights of composers, lyricists, and performers, ensuring that they have control over their creative output and can benefit financially from their work. In India, copyright laws are governed by the Copyright Act of 1957 and subsequent amendments.

Meaning of Copyright:

Copyright, in its essence, grants the creator of a musical work the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, communicate, and adapt their composition or song. It provides legal protection against unauthorized use, duplication, or distribution of the copyrighted music. 

Ownership in Music/Song:

In India, the ownership of copyright in music or a song initially vests with the composer, lyricist, or songwriter. However, this ownership can be transferred through agreements or contracts, commonly known as assignment or licensing agreements, where the rights are assigned or licensed to another individual or entity. The ownership of copyright can also be shared among multiple creators, such as in cases of collaboration.

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Rights of the Song Owner:

The owner of a copyrighted song in India holds several exclusive rights, including

  1. Reproduction Right: The right to make copies of the song, whether in physical or digital format.
  2. Distribution Right: The right to distribute copies of the song to the public through various mediums like CDs, streaming platforms, or downloads.
  3. Performance Right: The right to publicly perform the song, which includes live performances, broadcasting, or any other public presentation.
  4. Communication Right: The right to communicate the song to the public through mediums like radio, television, internet streaming, or public venues.
  5. Adaptation Right: The right to create derivative works based on the original song, such as remixes, cover versions, or translations.

How to Copyright a Song in India?

To obtain copyright protection for a song in India, the following steps can be taken:

  1. Creation: The song must be in a fixed tangible form, whether written down or recorded, to be eligible for copyright protection. It does not need to be published or registered to establish copyright.
  2. Registration: Although not mandatory, registering the copyright with the Copyright Office in India provides stronger evidence of ownership and makes it easier to enforce rights. The registration process involves filing an application along with the required fee and supporting documents.

Licensing and Copyright:

Copyright owners can license their music to others for various purposes, such as commercial recordings, film soundtracks, advertisements, or public performances. Licensing agreements specify the terms and conditions under which the copyrighted music can be used, including the duration, territory, and compensation to be paid to the copyright owner. Get more information about the Benefits of copyright in India

Copyright Societies in India:

In India, several copyright societies have been established to manage and administer the rights of music creators. These societies, such as the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), and Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO), collect royalties on behalf of their members and grant licenses for the use of copyrighted music.

Performer and Copyright:

Apart from the copyright in the musical composition itself, performers also possess certain rights related to their performances. These rights, commonly known as neighboring rights, include the right to control the fixation, reproduction, and distribution of their live performances.


Copyright protection plays a vital role in safeguarding the rights of music creators in India. By understanding the meaning of copyright, the ownership and rights associated with music, and the process of copyright registration, creators can effectively protect their creative output. Licensing agreements and copyright societies further facilitate the lawful use and monetization of copyrighted music, benefitting both creators and users alike.


1. Who owns the copyright in Music India?

The initial copyright ownership in music in India lies with the composer, lyricist, or songwriter. However, ownership can be transferred or shared through agreements.

2. How can I use copyrighted music in India?

To use copyrighted music in India, you generally need to obtain permission from the copyright owner or license the music through a copyright society or other authorized channels.

3. Which music is copyright-free?

Copyright-free music refers to compositions that are not protected by copyright or have entered the public domain. Such music can be freely used without seeking permission or licenses.

4. How do YouTubers use copyrighted music?

YouTubers can use copyrighted music in their videos by obtaining licenses or permissions from the copyright owners, using music covered by Creative Commons licenses, or relying on the YouTube Audio Library, which provides a collection of copyright-cleared music.

5. Who holds music copyrights?

Music copyrights are initially held by composers, lyricists, or songwriters. However, ownership can be transferred to music publishers, record labels, or other entities through agreements or contracts.

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