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After having to contend with sharing royalties with music composers and lyricists, there’s another ‘shocker’ for producers on its way. Screen writers have united to form a Society under section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957, which will issue or grant licence in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other rights conferred by the Act. The obvious intention of forming the Society is to demand royalty in the scripts which writers pen for films. This right to receive royalty was granted to them via the 2012 amendment of the Copyright Act. The amendment brought them on par with music directors and song writers, who get a share in the royalties from film songs. Through this new copyright society, writers will be entitled to get royalties for their story, screenplay and dialogues which they write for films.

In fact, the Copyright Office of the ministry of Commerce & Industry has invited objections/comments, if any, from the general public and stakeholders, in respect of the application received from the Screenwriters Rights Association of India (SRAI). In the Public Notice dated November 27, 2020, issued by the copyright office of the ministry, attention of the general public and stakeholders has been invited to the fact that the SRAI, having its office at 201, Vaibhav, Janki Kutir, behind Prithvi Theatre, Juhu, Bombay, vide its application dated November 4, 2020, received by copyright office on November 13, has applied before the Central Government, through the Registrar of Copyrights, for registration of a Copyright Society, in literary and dramatic works, such as the story, script, screenplay, dialogues or any other literary works (excluding lyrics). The objections/comments may be submitted through mail at within 30 days from the date of publication of the Public Notice on the website of the copyright office.

It is believed that Anjum Rajabali, Saket Chaudhary, Juhi Chaturvedi, Vipul Shah and Kamlesh Pandey are at the forefront of the proposed Copyright Society (Screenwriters Rights Association of India).

Actually, it may be wrong to describe the formation of the Society as a shocker for producers. For, alongwith claiming their share of royalty, the writers are also opening up a whole new source of revenue for producers themselves. For instance, when a streaming platform would be asked to share its earnings from advertising (for films streamed) with the film producers, this would become an additional source of revenue for those producers as well. It is from this additional source that the SRAI will demand a percentage share for its writer-members.