Navigating the Bollywood music industry copyright challenges and Indias approach

Navigating the Bollywood music industry: copyright challenges and India’s approach

The Bollywood music industry is renowned worldwide for its vibrant melodies, foot-tapping rhythms, and diverse musical genres. It plays an integral role in Indian cinema, enhancing the emotional depth of storytelling and leaving a lasting impact on audiences. Bollywood movies are filled with music. However, like any creative industry, Bollywood music faces its own set of challenges, particularly concerning copyright infringement matters. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of the Bollywood music industry, explore the challenges it encounters, and shed light on how India handles copyright issues in this dynamic landscape. This information is invaluable for aspiring Indian artists looking to make their mark in the industry.

The Bollywood music industry: a glimpse

Bollywood music has a rich history that dates back to the early days of Indian cinema and Hindi movies. Over the decades, it has evolved, incorporating various musical influences, from classical ragas to Western pop and electronic sounds. The industry is a powerhouse, churning out numerous songs and albums every year, making it a major player in the global music scene. One of the leading entertainment companies is Zee Music. 

The Indian music industry is huge, but it does face some challenges:

Copyright infringement matters

Copyright infringement is a significant challenge in the Bollywood film industry. It occurs when an individual or entity uses copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder. In the context of music, this can involve using melodies, lyrics, or arrangements without proper authorization. Bollywood has seen its fair share of copyright infringement cases.

Sometimes, these cases involve accusations of artists copying elements from other tracks, unintentionally or otherwise. The complex nature of music, with its overlapping melodies and harmonies, can sometimes lead to disputes over similarities between songs.

For aspiring artists, this presents a cautionary tale. It underscores the importance of understanding copyright laws, obtaining licenses when necessary, and being vigilant about protecting one’s own intellectual property.

Plagiarism allegations

Bollywood has witnessed numerous allegations of plagiarism over the years. These allegations often arise when listeners or fellow artists detect striking similarities between a new song and an existing one, especially when the new Bollywood song gains popularity. Such cases can tarnish an artist’s reputation and result in legal consequences.

To avoid plagiarism allegations, artists should strive to create unique compositions and seek inspiration without directly copying existing work. This emphasizes the significance of originality in the industry.

At Kwettr, each track that is delivered is being scanned for possible copyright infringement.

Monetization and royalties

Monetizing music can be challenging for independent artists. In Bollywood, established artists may have access to better opportunities for revenue generation, such as live performances, endorsements, and streaming platforms. However, for emerging talents, breaking into these revenue streams can be daunting. Featuring a track in a movie is considered a big breakthrough. 

Furthermore, the issue of royalties remains a concern for many artists. In India, there have been ongoing discussions about ensuring fair compensation for creators, particularly regarding digital platforms and streaming services. Aspiring artists must be aware of their rights and potential revenue sources within the industry.

Kwettr distribution makes sure that revenue collected from Apple Music, Jiosaavn, Spotify, YouTube and YouTube Music is being paid to the rightsholder.

Kwettr has a strong connection with YouTube. YouTube Content ID, YouTube Official Artists Channels and of course YouTube Ads are amongst Kwettr’s specialities.

India’s approach to copyright in the music industry

India has a robust legal framework for copyright protection, primarily governed by the Copyright Act, of 1957. The Act covers various aspects of copyright, including literary, dramatic, and film and musical works. Here’s how India handles copyright issues in the Bollywood music industry:

Copyright registration

While copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a work, artists can register their copyrights with the Copyright Office in India. Registration provides additional legal benefits and evidence of ownership, which can be crucial in case of disputes.

Aspiring artists are encouraged to register their original compositions to safeguard their rights effectively.

Collective rights management organizations (CMOs)

India has several CMOs, such as the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), that play a crucial role in collecting and distributing royalties to artists. These organizations ensure that artists receive compensation for the use of their music in various mediums, including film, television, and radio.

Indian Performing Right Society IPRS

Artists should consider affiliating with CMOs to ensure they receive their rightful royalties.

Fair use and fair dealing

Indian copyright law recognizes the concept of fair use and fair dealing, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes like criticism, review, and news reporting. However, this is a complex and often litigated area, so artists should be cautious when relying on these exceptions.

Aspiring artists should understand the boundaries of fair use and seek legal advice if they plan to use copyrighted material in their work.

Alternative revenue streams

Emerging artists can explore alternative revenue streams beyond traditional music sales. This includes live performances, merchandise sales, sync licensing for film and advertisements, and online streaming platforms. These avenues can provide steady income and exposure to a wider audience.

Diversifying income sources can help artists sustain their careers in the competitive Bollywood music industry.


The Bollywood music industry offers immense opportunities for talented artists. However, it also presents several challenges, particularly in the realm of copyright infringement and protection. Aspiring Indian artists should approach their careers with a strong understanding of copyright laws, originality, and the evolving landscape of the industry.

In India, copyright protection is readily available through registration and collective rights management organizations, ensuring that artists can benefit from their creative efforts. To thrive in the Bollywood music industry, artists should focus on creating unique and original compositions, exploring various revenue streams, and staying informed about legal developments in copyright protection.

With dedication, creativity, and a commitment to respecting copyright laws, Indian artists can navigate the intricate world of releasing Bollywood music and contribute to its rich legacy while safeguarding their intellectual property rights.

Do you want to distribute your Bollywood songs to all major platforms, such as Jiosaavn, YouTube and Spotify? Be sure to sign up here!

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