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This article is written by Aarti Gosavi, pursuing a Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws from Lawsikho.

What is a political campaign?

A political campaign is a group effort which aims to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns are known as electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. In recent times the most well publicized political campaigns which are more inclined towards the President or Prime Minister. Elections or referendums are usually conducted after the campaigning comes to an end.

The reason for election campaigns

Political parties usually start campaigning just two to three months before the elections are conducted in that particular area. They need to campaign to reach out to the masses with their election manifestos and appeal to them to vote for them so that if the potential candidate wins the election the candidate can easily address the problems which people are facing in that area. Political campaigns also serve another purpose of making people aware of all the achievements that you have achieved in the past which will further help in instilling confidence and trust about the candidate that will be etched forever in the minds of the masses.

Model code of conduct to be followed by the parties during campaign

Model code of conduct is a particular set of standards and instructions issued by the Election Commission of India in which the political parties are supposed to abide by as soon as the elections are announced in that particular region. According to the model code of conduct the parties must stop campaigning just 48 hours before the elections so that the voters are not influenced by any particular party.

Why was the model code of conduct introduced?

The model code of conduct was introduced by the Election Commission of India to ensure that the elections are conducted in a smooth and transparent manner. The model code of conduct dissuades any party to take undue advantage of the situation and hence monitors speeches, polling booths, election manifestos, processions, portfolios of the candidates of the political parties, polling day, processions taken out by the parties and overall the general conduct of the parties during the elections.

What rights of lyricists and composers are infringed if their music is played at political campaigns?

Copyright is a bundle of rights. The Copyright Act provides legal protection to the original author or creator in two forms i.e. economic rights and moral rights. Thus, lyricists and composers have many rights associated with their music out of which the main right is copyright. Copyright protection automatically entitles following rights on the owner. They are:

1) Right to reproduce the work – A copyright holder can make copies of the work and convert it to any form. The recording of song on compact device and visual recording are examples of making copies of the work in which copyright subsist. The right to copy is available to the original author of the works and the person who is authorized to copy the work. If any person is found copying without due permissions from the original author then he is liable to be punished according to section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957. If the person is found to be making copies for fair dealing under Section 53 A of the Act then he is not liable to be punished under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

2) Right to distribute – The person who is the original owner of the work in which copyright subsists has the right to distribute the work and exploit it for commercial purposes either by assignment or by licensing the work to others. The profits that are made out of it are then distributed to the original author by way of royalty.

3) Right to make derivative works – The copyright owner can distribute his work for commercial purposes also to make any derivative works. Derivative works are those works where the producer makes an adaptation or uses the work to make something in another language which is different from the language in the original work.

4) Right to perform in public – The owner of the copyright in the work has the right to give performance related to his work in front of a big audience. The right to perform in public is also known as performing rights. He also has the right to broadcast his work as well as to] make it available to the public even through digital means.

5) Paternity Rights – This right allows the original owner to claim the credit to which he is entitled to if his work is used anywhere eg. If the work is used as a song in a movie or a music album then the producer of the movie or the music album is bound by law to give him credit in their movie or music album which if not done then they can be rightly sued by the original owner of the work.

6) Sui generis – This right protects softwares and databases which need to be legally protected from illegal copying.

7) Right to follow – This right is usually accessible only to authors and artists. This right entitles the authors some share of the profits that are obtained by selling their work. The artists also get their proportion of profit which arises on reselling their work.

Apart from the above rights authors also have moral rights which remain with the author forever which means that the assignee or the licensee cannot tamper with the original work of the author. 

What are copyright societies and why were they established?

A copyright society is a registered collective administration under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The different copyright societies in India are as follows:

  1. The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) –It grants and issues licenses for musical works.
  2. The Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) – It grants and issues licenses for sound recordings.
  3. The Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) –It gives permission to photocopy works.
  4. The Society for Copyright Regulation of Indian Producers of Films and Television (SCRIPT) –It regulates the copyright in cinematograph and television films.
  5. The Indian Singers Rights Association(ISRA) – It looks after the singers’ performance rights.

The Copyright Act was amended in 2012 and accordingly IPRS and PPL were about to re register as copyright societies by June 21, 2013 but withdrew their applications for re registration as copyright societies and now function as private limited companies.

The work of the original author when published is subject to infringement on a large scale. This poses huge losses to the author. It is very difficult for the author to control and watch over any infringement of their work. Thus many authors come together and establish a copyright society which undertakes the task to keep a watch over such infringement of their works and performs the function to collect appropriate permission fees from the users of such work. It also performs the function to license the works of the original authors to the users using their work for commercial purposes.

Is the Copyright Law of the U.S.A. same as India?

The above question answers the many arguments that have been put forth when the rights of lyricist and composers were infringed in the U.S.A during the Presidential elections when Mr. Trump used Rihanna’s songs during his election campaign and Rihanna in turn issued a cease and desist letter to Mr. Donald Trump. Both the countries are signatories to the Berne Convention and the TRIPS agreement hence it is safe to say that same rights get infringed in both countries. 

Permissions needed to play music in political campaigns

Political parties need to take proper permissions from any authority or officer authorised by the Central Government, or as the case may be, the State Government which is according to the laws in force and includes a District Magistrate, Police Commissioner, or any other officer, not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, designated for the maintenance of the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise under any law for the time being in force as mentioned in the model code of conduct for using the public address system to inform the masses about their election manifestos which in turn will help them to win votes.

Is political campaigning considered a road show?

Phonographic Performance Limited and Indian Performing Rights Society are the two organizations in India that give permissions to any party that wants to use songs of artists and composers in their particular events. These two organizations have not mentioned the fees that need to be paid to these organizations when using any music or songs of artists and composers for election campaigns in India. In election campaigns the political parties travel to many places with proper sound equipment announcing their election manifestos across the public addressal system. Thus, political campaigns could be considered under the category of road shows and hence proper fees need to be paid to the organization of Phonographic Performance Limited. The rates according to the number of days for any road show are given in the following link.

https://s3-ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/ppl-inida-prod/leadership1571733936314-33G+Road+show.pdf

Conclusion

There have been no cases in India till date where the artist has actually filed a suit against any political party for using their songs in political campaigns since in India we have not heard any copying of the song as it is without making any changes in it being used by political parties in their election campaigns but the main tune of the song is very much similar to the original song and hence the songwriters in India are not able to sue the political parties for using their songs in their election campaigns.

References

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