To protect the future rights of all writers to receive royalty as per the Copyright Amendment act passed by parliament this year. The amendment has been passed after great effort and now certain TV channels are trying to avoid payment of royalty to writers.
1.(Mr. VINAY SHUKLA’S LETTER TO ALL WRITERS)
It has come to the notice of the FWA that a satellite channel of repute is forcing TV writers working on their shows to sign a contract which is completely in contravention of the Copyright Amendment Bill of 2012. This said document states that the contract is not bound by the Copyright Amendment Bill of 2012 passed in Parliament. This document also states that a writer, music director & lyricists will voluntarily give up their claim to any royalties and in return for the same will be paid a lump sum amount of Rs. 5000/- as full and final settlement of all royalties. This said amount will be a one-time payment. The document further states that By signing this document the writer/author gives up voluntarily all his rights of further exploitation of his written work.
The copyright Amendment Bill of 2012 clearly states that Royalty is non assignable and any contract to the contrary is bad in law. What this means is that any producer or broadcaster who forces any creative person from giving up his or her royalty in a contract is an ill legal act. The law does not accept any contract where an author is made to sign away his royalties. The said document also forces authors from being members of any copyright society which again is a violation of the copyright Amendment Bill and the fundamental right of every citizen of India.
This move by this TV channel is a knee jerk reaction to circumvent the payment of royalties to us writers. The reality is that their contract is BAD in law and is not tenable in any court of law in India.
The FWA has sent a strong letter to the channel in response to the contract that it has circulated amongst TV Writers.
The FWA strongly feels that other broadcasters may follow suit and force writers to sign such a contract.
The FWA strongly condemns such violations of the rights of writers and directs all TV writers to refuse to sign any such contract. It demands unanimous rejection of such a draft by all TV writers. TV writers should fearlessly state to producers/broadcasters that the FWA has given a directive to all its members to refuse to sign such a contract and that as bonafide members they cannot go against the writ of the Association.
We at the FWA assure you that these desperate measures taken by Broadcasters to try and intimidate and coerce writers from giving up on Royalty will not succeed as these are ill legal tactics and the law is with us Writers.
The FWA firmly demands all TV writers to be strong and not to cow down to these pressure tactics. This is the beginning of a fight which will benefit not only us in the long run but also for future generations of writers.
The FWA requests all TV writers to spread the word amongst as many TV writers as possible to not sign any such contract thrust upon them. The FWA also strongly recommends that fellow TV writers should be vigilant about memberships to the association.
They should make all non members who are active in the TV industry members immediately as this fight will benefit them.
The FWA also requests TV writers to immediately bring to the notice of the association of any other channel that is forcing its writers to sign such contracts.
The FWA wants to assure all writers that it is planning suitable measures to counter these strong arm tactics of Broadcasters. As and when these measures would be finalized they will be shared with all of you.
The FWA is expecting your full co-operation and commitment to the cause of the Tv writer. Strength is in numbers and we again strongly request you to spread the word ASAP and also make non member professional writers to become members at the earliest.
2.(Mr. VINAY SHUKLA’S LETTER TO CONCERNED CHANNEL)
Kind Attention: CEO OF CHANNEL
Subject : Deed of Assignment Format provided to our members for signatures
It has come to FWA’s attention that our Writer members are being asked to sign a new assignment agreement -- format of which is being circulated/issued by you to TV Producers.
On an examination of the agreement, we are utterly shocked that a responsible organization such as yours, with International operations would act in such blatant violation of the laws of India, when infact, operation offices of your channel in other parts of the world do not adopt such practices and policies.
The draft format agreement is not proper and is not as per the Copyright Act, 1957 as it stands today for the following reasons:
1. The agreement seeks to secure an assignment of Intellectual Property for media “subsequently invented”. May we bring to your attention that this is not allowed by the Copyright Act, 1957. Such assignment terms “violate Section 18 (1) of the Act.
As you very well know that Section 18 of the Copyright Act, 1957 as amended by the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 disallows assignment of copyright for modes or mediums which do not exist or are not used commercially. This would mean that the law bars such assignments. Thus, it is shocking to know that you are boldly defying the Laws of India which our Parliament has just made!!
The said assignment is further contradicted when you define the term “Exploitation” in your said agreement.
Further, you are wanting to start a practice which is again illegal and against the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 and the intention of the Indian Parliament by seeking a license for future medium or mode of exploitation as may be developed in the future, in consideration of INR 100. May we inform you that the Copyright Act, 1957 seeks to address the licensing issues for musical works through Copyright Societies/Copyright
Board, which you are trying to by-pass and which cannot be the case, which please note.
2. We further note that the terms of the agreement requires our members to deny membership of Copyright Societies as on the date of execution of this Deed of Assignment. This is an outright breach of our members’ rights to be part of any association or copyright society. This right is in fact a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. You are no doubt aware that the amendments to the Copyright Act now in fact require that the authors become members of a copyright society and the business of issuing and granting of licenses is to be conducted only through a Copyright Society. It is indeed perplexing that by insisting on Writers to not be members of a Copyright Society, you are setting in a practice which attempts to destroy the basic structure of Copyright in India and which is in sharp contrast to the provisions and intentions of the Law created by the Indian Parliament – The Copyright Act, 1957.
3. Astonishingly you go a step further, wherein the Agreement seeks to limit Royalty payable to the Assignor for the Exploitation of the Works to a lump sum of Rs. 5,000/-. There is neither any basis for this one time amount nor is this fixed lump sum amount complying with Section 18 and 19 of the Copyright Act, 1957. You are aware that Royalties can never be a lump sum, as it will be derived from payments received for use of the copyright. This is also the position of Indian courts. The very term Royalty means it is not a lump sum.
4. It is very absurd when we note that the writers are entitled to their equal share of royalty in case of utilization of their works by persons other than your organization and ‘affiliates’. This in itself contradicts the lump sum in the agreement!! Further, there is no basis for this difference in payment terms. Infact, to collect your share of the royalties from Copyright Societies, you would need to be members. Thus, here again, it is quite surprising that whereas on one hand you would want to collect your share of royalties, but on the other hand your are insisting that writers be not members of copyright societies – thereby depriving them from collecting their share of royalties.
If such agreements were to be executed, the agreement would violate the law of the land and the reasonable rights of our members. The agreements itself will be void as per the Copyright Act, 1957.
Please note that in lieu of the above, we have advised our members not to execute such agreements as they violate the provisions of Copyright Act.
We hereby call upon you to comply with the law of the land, withdraw such agreements immediately and provide fresh agreements to our members to sign which would be in consonance with the Copyright Act.
We call upon you that you send us the draft of such an agreement for our vetting in advance to circulation -- so we could have a standard agreement in place which will be of convenience to you and our members in future.
We would expect a response within 7 (seven) days of the receipt of this letter, failing which, the Association will examine further steps to be taken in the matter including petitioning the law makers of the country.
Thanking You in advance