Chennai: Sources close to famous music composer Ilayaraja said on Monday that the legal notice sent to accomplished singer SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) was one of many legal notices sent out by the music maestro’s office. It appears that Ilayaraja’s legal advisors have been sending notices many companies demanding that his permission be obtained before using the songs for which he scored music.
Ilayaraja has been involved in charity work and he feels those who are earning on his songs could contribute to his charity activities. He feels people are earning crores of rupees using his songs without paying a rupee to him.
Three years ago, Ilayaraja went to Madra High Court which ordered five music companies not to sell his compositions without permission. He believes that only he has the rights over the songs and if royalty is paid by companies, radio stations or TV channels, the same can be shared by him with the producers, singers and lyricists. Ilayaraja has composed music for over a 1000 films, with over 6000 songs to his credit. He also has a number of albums of non-film songs.
The battle for royalties has come to light when SP Balasubrahmanyam has posted his response, in his face book, to the legal notice sent by Ilayaraja barring him from using the songs for which he scored music. He said he was touring the world following a programme designed by his son on the occasion of his completing 50 years of singing career. SPB said he is ignorant of copyright act and he would stop singing the songs for which Ilayaraja scored music.
Ilayaraja’s legal notice has sparked a controversy in film industry. Even the writers can claim royalties. The playback singers also can demand a share in royalties. A film song is created by producer, director, story writer, script writer, lyric writer, music composer and playback singer. The importance of the roles played by them may be different but all these individuals are required to make a film song. On what basis can royalties be distributed among all these individuals and the companies which popularise the songs?
While it is nobody’s case that the music director’s efforts should not go unrewarded, the fact that Ilayaraja’s notice undermines the playback singer’s contribution to making a song popular cannot be overlooked. There are ethical and legal issues involved in this case. Everybody who has a part in making of a song is payed by the producer before the film is released. When it comes to royalty, it has to be studied and a method has to be evolved for sharing of royalties. The legal notice should lead to a constructive debate so that some guidelines could be evolved to avoid bitterness among the creative persons.
SPB did a lot of concerts in India and abroad. He kick started the present tour in August in Toranto and has performed in Russia, Srilanka, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries. He has been anchoring a programme in ETV by name ‘Paadutaa Tiiyagaa’ for years. The talented singer makes it a point to mention the names of music composers, lyric writers and playback singers with a lot of reverence when ever he takes up a song at concerts or TV programmes. It is truly unfortunate, as SPB aptly put, that the episode should have happened between two good friends.