The Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA) has distributed its first cycle of royalties to its singers to the tune of INR 51 Lacs for a period upto 31st March, 2017. The royalty was received by 730 singers throughout the country.

ISRA’s CEO Mr. Sanjay Tandon, who presented a cheque to renowned singers K.J. Yesudas, P. Susheela, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Chitra, Srinivas and many others, was reported to say “At last ISRA has completed its duty as a Copyright Society. Thus, it is proud to demonstrate that inspite of heavy odds and stiff resistance even today, ISRA has not just managed to set up the infrastructure, collect Singers Royalty from the Users but also has paid out/Distributed those Royalties to Singers. There is nothing more to be satisfied than the fact that now post the 2012 Amendments, Singers have started seeing and receiving the Royalties that was being denied to them till date. Though the amount is small this time, but it just is the start and tip of the ice-berg….

.. This ₹51 lakh royalty money will grow 10 fold if and when radio channels, television channels and mobile companies start paying us. Right now, only IPL teams, amusement parks and few other establishments have paid the royalty money.”

Mr. Tandon said that ISRA will seek legal recourse to seek royalties from radio stations, television and mobile networks.

I came across an article in Cinema Express which states that “The southern chapter of Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA) organised a royalty distribution event in Chennai today. The event’s agenda was to pass on to the singers a cheque of Rs 51 lakh, which was collected from the royalties paid by radio stations, TV channels, caller tunes, internet portals such as Saavn and Gaana and even IPL teams, gyms and theme parks who have paid for the songs they’ve used.

Since this article mentions that radio, TV and internet broadcasters like Saavn and Gaana have paid royalties, I wrote to Mr. Sanjay Tandon to seek clarification on whether this information is correct as it contradicts the other media reports where Mr. Tandon has been quoted to say that he would take legal recourse against these broadcasters to seek royalties. Mr. Tandon has clarified that the Cinema Express article has misquoted him and that he had stated to the contrary i.e. these broadcasters have not yet paid royalties and that he would be soon taking legal recourse against them.

ISRA has faced stiff opposition from various sectors towards royalty collection. There are several litigation matters of ISRA pending before the Delhi High Court. The crux of the controversy can be viewed in my recent guest interviews with Mr. Sanjay Tandon (here), Ankit Relan (here) and Mr. Jagdish Sagar (here), where Mr. Tandon gives his perspective on the legal position on performers’ right to receive royalties, Ankit who is representing T-Series in an ongoing litigation against ISRA sets out the perspective of the music labels and Mr. Sagar sets out the perspective of the producers.

(Image obtained from Mr. Sanjay Tandon, CEO& MD- ISRA)