Indian Copyright Act Now Covers Internet and Online Streaming - Statutory Licensing Requirements

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on 5 September 2016, issued an Office Memorandum clarifying that internet broadcasting companies come under the purview of a broadcasting organization under section 31 D of Copyrights Act, 1957. Accordingly, such internet broadcasting companies should obtain a statutory license. The Copyright Amendment Act 2012, inserted section 31D that any “broadcasting organization communicating to the public” of any literary, musical work or sound recording, to follow the compliances under the Copyright Act, which including but not limited to, giving prior notice of the broadcast, duration, territorial coverage and pay the royalties to the owner of rights in each work, announcing the names of authors and performers. It has prescriptive process of prior intimation for any modification or alteration to the literary or musical work. Further, the broadcaster has to maintain records, books of account and render copies to the owners of the copyright. online-streaming The section 31D has had a chequered history which made one believe that perhaps the statutory license is only for radio and television broadcasters. But the Office Memorandum seeks to clarify that under section 2(ff) “communication to public” is defined as making any work available for being seen or heard or otherwise enjoyed by the public directly or by any means of display or diffusion other than by issuing copies of such work regardless of whether any member of the public actually sees, hears or otherwise enjoys the work so made available.


For the purposes of this clause, communication through satellite or cable or any other means of simultaneous communication to more than one household or place of residence including residential rooms of any hotel or hostel shall be deemed to be communication to the public Accordingly, now internet broadcasting, live streaming fall under the Indian Copyright Act and Statutory Licensing requirements. The advantage though is that, artists will be entitled for a share of internet broadcast revenue. Think through before your Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube live videos, webinars or any other broadcast sessions. Author: Sharda Balaji, NovoJuris Legal

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