Was Ilaiyaraaja right to sue SP Balasubrahmanyam? Celebs weigh in

Ilaiyaraaja's legal notice to SP Balasubrahmanyam over singing his songs has started a discussion on the country's copyright law.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru | Updated: March 20, 2017 12:26 pm
Ilaiyaraaja suing SP Balasubrahmanyam has started discussion on the country’s copyright law.

Legendary playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam on Sunday enthralled the audience of his sell-out music tour, SPB 50, in San Jose with all non-Ilaiyaraaja songs. The singer is currently touring the world along with a few other popular musicians to celebrate 50 years of playback singing. Hours before his performance, SPB took everyone by surprise by revealing that he has received a legal notice from his long-time friend Ilaiyaraaja that restricts him from signing the songs composed by the latter.

The issue has also started a serious discussion in the industry about the country’s copyright law and how much of it is followed by the big players. Talking to a news website, music maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s copyright consultant said music composers don’t get a penny while singers make a lot of money singing their songs on commercial shows.

“We are not compelling orchestras or musicians who are surviving on Ilaiyaraaja’s music to pay up royalties. We are only concentrating on people who are earning lakhs or crores by using his creations. SPB is not doing charity shows. They are minting money and the composer doesn’t get 1 rupee. It is his work and creation,” Ilaiyaraaja’s copyrights consultant E Pradeep Kumar told The News Minute.

Lyricist Madhan Karky has backed Ilaiyaraaja’s action in respect to the copyright law. However, he also noted that the music maestro could have handled the situation rather differently, given his decades-old friendship with SPB. “Seeing with the lens of law, what Raja sir did is right. A song is owned by the composer, lyricist and producer. Seeing with the eyes of friendship, it doesn’t seem right. A call instead of a legal notice may have sorted things smoothly. Whenever a song is played or performed outside a cinema hall, for public, royalties for that song will be collected and distributed to composer, lyricist and producer,” Karky wrote on his Facebook page.

“Royalty societies like IPRS will collect such royalties and distribute. Even if Raja sir has not permitted an organisation like IPRS to manage his royalties, and is managing by himself, he still does not own the song completely. Even if Raja sir is performing in a public event, the royalties for those songs should go to the respective lyricists and producers also,” he noted.

Read | Ilaiyaraaja sues SP Balasubrahmanyam for singing his compositions. Here is all that happened

“If the writers or producers send a legal notice to him, he will not be able to perform the songs without their prior permission. I am happy that Raja sir is taking this issue to a bigger stage, even if it is bitter to many, so we can get together to understand royalties,” he added.

There is clearly more to the issue than what meets the eye. However, not everyone shares Karky’s rationality in the issue. Talking to a Tamil news channel, Ilaiyaraaja’s brother Gangai Amaran, termed the music director’s decision to sue SPB as “foolishness.”

SPB, as part of his world tour that is organised by his son SPB Charan, has already performed several shows in India, before enthralling his fans in Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai. But, Ilaiyaraaja decided to send legal notice during the singer’s US leg because of the country’s strict copyright rules, said sources.

Given that SPB has sung nearly 40,000 songs, the event organisers has nothing to worry about. They can hold hundreds of such tours sans Ilaiyaraaja’s timeless classic songs and the show will go on. But, will Ilaiyaraaja’s bold move encourage others to follow the suit? Only time will tell.

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  1. V
    vivid
    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:11 am
    We have to take this in a broader sense rather than its legal or monetary aspect.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Mr. Raja is not using Ragas created by him or instruments invented by him. Music, like science, is a process ped to generations by the hard work of great legends. And lastly, God gave him this talent to do his duty for all creations of Him.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is my view.
    Reply
    1. N
      N.Mohankumar
      Mar 20, 2017 at 10:09 am
      Bach (Illayaraja's God), Beethoven, Mozart and our greats Thiyagaraja, Shyama Sastrigal ..... gave grammar andmusic. Did they seek copyright? In the evolution of musical , Raja is one part. He has imbibed many art forms without paying any fee. If what he says is correct, then Shakespeare,, Milton, Tolstoy, Chekov, ... all the giants need to be paid posthumously.lt;br/gt;Raja has made huge money. Doe he need more? His spiritual side should rather detach him from further material gain. MSV created an equal and non-repeive music . But did he run after money?lt;br/gt;This is just falling prey to corporate greed!!
      Reply
      1. K
        kiran
        Mar 20, 2017 at 10:14 am
        But if someone like karthik raja is eating raaja sirs brain and taking his decisions then its different
        Reply
        1. K
          kiran
          Mar 20, 2017 at 10:22 am
          Its not first time SPB used raaja sirs song in his concerts. Why now only there is a legal notice ? It means something went wrong between them . So legal thing is not really the issue. Nobody can tell this is wrong until they really know what went wrong.
          Reply
          1. K
            kiran
            Mar 20, 2017 at 10:05 am
            No need to know the w story and no need to evaluate raaja sir also , as he is man filled with purity and is way spiritually above everyone. Blindly we can trust him and his dignity and his thinking. He must be correct.His music is divine and so will be his thoughts. Period
            Reply
            1. R
              rams
              Mar 20, 2017 at 9:35 am
              I differ. You can copyright a process, a method, a way of proof, raja has copyrighted the entire song with score, lyrics. So when you are making money by singing the song with orchestra you are bound to take permission. Tomorrow if rajni copyrights his voice, nobody can conduct a big programme with mimicry.
              Reply
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