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Music licensing and Bangladesh


Music licensing and Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a land of rich heritage and culture. It is a country which has always celebrated artistic freedom and expressions. Due to this reason, music has been one of the most essential art forms in the country. From the classical Bengali songs to the songs of artists such as Rabindra-Nazrul to the songs which are sang during the cultural celebrations, Bengali music has always been raw and original in nature. In this digital era however, where works of art often fall victims to piracy, copying amongst others, certain measures needs to be taken in order to preserve their originality.
An important aspect which we often see in our society is the fact that certain songs are at times played constantly on the television, during advertisement and even events at the time of festive occasions or national days such as 21st February, 26th March or even 14th April. In accordance with law, it is necessary to take a licence to play a music which is already owned by someone in a commercial manner. It is necessary for a person to take a licence, which makes the agreement between the owner and the person who wants to use such a piece of music. The licensed use of copyrighted music is therefore music licensing. For the specific period of time, what the person really wants to do with the music and bargaining position of the person with the owner of the music, licensing really depends on that. In order to ensure that composers, songwriters and musicians are paid for their work there exists the process of music licensing.
It is very important to understand the actual meaning of licensing as we move forward. An agreement between an intellectual property right owner and the person who is to be authorised to use such music in exchange for agreed payment is known as a licence. This payment is the fees or royalty to be paid to the music owner in exchange for the music.
Now, as we have known the meaning of the term licensing, it is also very important to know the importance of music licensing. The "protection and permission for the original work" from the owner of the music is known as a music licence. There is an agreement created in the process between the musician and the person who wants to use the music. The benefit for licensing the music is that, for example, a part of a piece of music or a song is played in a film or an album, and artist could use it as a platform to exhibit his talent and make him/her popular. There would be more demand for the song from the listener and thus the popularity of the song would automatically increase. The producer of the TV show, advertisement or movie may contact the artist to use such music due to its popularity and this would result in profit to the owner of the music. There are two main types of licensing -- they are Voluntary Licensing and Compulsory Licensing.
Under the Section 48 of the Copyrights Act, 2000, Voluntary Licensing is the process where the owner is at liberty to grant a licence to exploit his work without any compulsion, whatsoever. In this case the owner of the copyright in any existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in any future work may grant any interest in the right by the licence in writing signed by him or by his duly authorised agent.
Under Sections 50 and 51 of the Copyright Act, 2000 it is a form of license which provides the owner of a patent or copyright licence the use of their rights against payment either set by law or determined through some form of adjudication or arbitration. In this way, the compulsory licensing system minimises the transactional costs for using these phone records, benefiting creativity and the economy.
A compulsory licence can also be granted in cases of unpublished works, where the singer or the musician has died, before even release of the music in the public domain. It is very important to make sure that music reaches all parts of the country but at the same time it is also important to make sure that there is a proper legal procedure which ensures its originality and gives due credit to the creators of the music or a song. Article 9 of the Berne Convention provides the basis for licensing the work of the owner. It states that authors of the literary or artistic work shall have the exclusive right in authorising the reproduction of these works, in any manner or form.
It is also important to understand that Articles 50 and 51 of the Copyright Act, 2000 provide for the compulsory licensing of the works of the Bangladeshi musicians and singers and its authority lies with the copyright board. It provides that after the publication of the work on certain satisfactory conditions, the copyright board may direct the registrar of the copyright to grant a licence for that particular subject for the payment of compensation to the holder of copyright.
If we analyse more closely certain aspects and international conventions of compulsory licensing we would be able to find out that Article 31 of "The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights" (TRIPs) also sets out specific provisions that shall be followed if a compulsory licence is issued, and the requirement of such licences. The Paris Convention of 1883 gave the first iteration of the term "compulsory licence". Bangladesh is a party to the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC), it must not only incorporate the laws within that conventions in their domestic law but at the same time make sure that such laws are not just limited to papers only and are actually implemented.
Music has come a long way from vinyl, to cassettes to CDs to now being sold digitally. Alongside this Bangladeshi music has certainly developed as well over the years from folk music to Rabindra-Nazrul to Band Music to the now Bangladeshi Pop music. But music is often not thought of as a conventional career choice. This is due to the fact that musicians often do not have a stable earning, a stable career and this usually happens because of the fact that they do not get due credit for their work and for the songs which they create. This can easily be changed through licensing and to be more specific through compulsory licensing. Once a song has been recorded and distributed to the public on recordings, any person or group is entitled to record and distribute the song without obtaining the copyright owner's consent, provided they pay a fee and meet copyright law requirements. This is how compulsory licensing makes sure that the entire process is made easier and the musicians are thus able to get their due credit which they deserve. In order to make sure that we act as responsible citizens, we need to make sure that we are able to implement the laws and practise them which are written on papers.

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