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Let’s Talk : IPR

In this week’s Let’s Talk series, we will see how technology has started to impact normal people in their lives. The first and the foremost and talk of this week is the issue between Ilaiyaraaja and SPB. If you do not know what the issue was let me tell you a brief of what actually happened between them.

SPB has gone out of the country for a music program. In that music program he had sung many Illayaraja songs. Raja has issued a notice that they have to pay a royalty for the songs that he has composed. SP Balasubrahmanyam has posted about this in his Facebook page and have also informed that he will not be singing Illayaraja songs anymore in his music programmes.  What is the notice about? How does someone have to pay royalty for the song that he has composed? As per the Indian law, like any other rights given to people like the fundamental rights there is a special rights that has been introduced called intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

It actually means that the person who had created it owns the right of the property. Any person using the property for commercial purpose and earning money out of it will have to be royalty to the person who created it. On this basis of intellectual property rights, Raja has issued a notice to SP Balasubrahmanyam and Chitra that they both have to pay the royalty if they sing his songs. Many people and industry have spoken for and against this notice. This is basically it is because of their ignorance on the IPR. Raja’s brother has raised a concern that how can we pay royalty for the songs that Raja composed. Do we really pay royalty for Thyagaraja  Keerthana’s? The question may be correct but Raja’s notice is also correct as per the law. If IPR was present during the period of Thyagaraja he himself would have opted for getting a royalty and making his family a multimillionaire. Actually Raja alone cannot claim the royalty for his songs.  It has to be shared with the lyric writer and producer.

IP laws are divided into several legal frameworks, including copyright, and trade-mark laws.


Arguably, copyright laws are the most germane for musicians, in that the creation of music itself fits under the umbrella of copyright protection. Copyright laws provide a host of default rights to the creators of songs, including the sole right to: produce the song, reproduce the song (i.e., make copies of it), perform the song, publish the song, and synchronize the song to visual content.


Trade-marks provide protection for any combination of words, designs, or symbols used to distinguish the source of wares or services. This protection is for the exclusive right to use a mark, as opposed to protecting the mark itself. Note, the mark itself, could potentially be protected under copyright law depending on if it meets the basic criteria for a protected work.

The law protects the creators.  Illayaraja has made thousands of songs. It is time that he just sit back, relax and harnessing his hard work in the form of royalty.

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