New rights for performers in updated Copyright Act

    By Ameet Datta and Suvarna Mandal, Saikrishna & Associates

    The law relating to performers’ rights underwent a significant overhaul during the 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957. Prior to India’s accession to the TRIPS agreement in 1994, the rights of performers in their performances were not recognized in India. Subsequent amendments to the Copyright Act in 1994 had given limited protection to such rights.

    Ameet Datta
    Ameet Datta

    The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, was intended to bring the Copyright Act in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, even though India is yet to accede to these treaties. The amendments, best known for favouring authors of literary and musical works, also expanded the protection available to performers under the act, mainly by broadening the definition of a “performer”, granting moral rights to performers and widening the protection afforded to performers in general.

    A new proviso excludes performers whose performance is “incidental or casual”, and has not been acknowledged in the credits of a film, from the definition of “performer”. In relation to the film and television industry this potentially excludes extras from the scope of the definition and rights granted by the act.

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    Ameet Datta ( is a partner at Saikrishna & Associates, where Suvarna Mandal ( is an associate. The views expressed in this article are personal.


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