Copyright a Remix

Is It Possible to Copyright a Remix, Reaction, Remake, or Mashup in India?

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 16 Sep 2022 Updated On 19 Sep 2022 Category Copyright

A piece of art that appears to be an exact replica of another's work is difficult to register as copyright. Given the restrictions imposed by the Copyright legislation, copyrighting a remix song in India is a bit of a challenge. The good note is that, as long as one complies with certain requirements, it is not an unfeasible task. This article sheds some insight on the legal ramifications listed in India's Copyright Act that one must take into account when copyrighting a remixed soundtrack.

Numerous tracks that are remixes of the classic 70s soundtrack have become huge hits with the general public. These remixes, regardless of the verse or language, inadvertently bring to mind the original movie while adding a pop culture twist. However, while being remakes of older films, these newer films are still treated as new ones because they belong to distinct genres and have various casting decisions, such as different producers, directors, and actors.

As long as you choose to register or not, as soon as something is generated, it is subject to copyright laws. Remixing, mashups and compilation creation would be considered infringement under such circumstances.

Basically, two requirements must be met for a work to be regarded as copyrightable:

  • Ideas cannot be protected by copyright, hence they must be expressed in any fixed tangible form and
  • It must be original.

The creator gets exclusive rights to his or her creation whenever a new type of music or video composition is produced. This enables the owner to further reproduce, copy, or spread the word about his or her creation. A fresh wave of mashups and Remixes with copyright has recently emerged in the music community.

Making official remixes of infringing work is a dangerous endeavour, but if you can gather a powerful enough pitch to secure the owing level, it may frequently be profitable.

The musical team must use their creativity and intellect to record a soundtrack, and after it is finished, it is transformed into the desired number of copies for the market. When a soundtrack is replicated, the creators take into account popular soundtracks on the market and remix them appropriately, maintaining the spirit and atmosphere of the original song.

From the legal point of view, it is important to assess if these are copyrightable works, whether they violate the original work, whether the owner has the authorization to use the soundtracks, and how the law addresses these issues.

Remake the culture of music in India

The phrase "musical work" is defined in Section 2(p) of the Act as a work composed entirely of music, including any graphic representation of such work, but excluding any words or actions intended to be sung, spoken, or performed in conjunction with music. The copyright of these works includes the following rights:

Not being a computer programme, a musical, literary, or theatrical work:

  • To physically copy the content and store it on any electronic medium
  • To distribute copies of a work to the general public that is not currently on the market.
  • To interact with the people and carry out the work there.
  • To produce or replicate any audio or video recording or cinematography.
  • Any form of translations or condensations
  • Any type of modification or adaptation to the work.

Regarding Sound Recording:

  • To produce any additional audio recordings – remixes, mashups, compilations, etc. – based on that.
  • Additionally, to use, purchase, or create duplicates of sound recordings.
  • To make it available to the public.

It will be considered an infringement if such a recreation of the song is made without the owner of the original recording giving their consent. Therefore, in most cases, the entrepreneurs will get in touch with the music's original owners through copyright collective management or organisations, and then they will give them a notice outlining their desire to duplicate the song in exchange for a fee as payment.

Types of rights in the musical world

  1. Reproduction right

This means that the creator of the original copyrighted work has the freedom to duplicate their creations and store them in whatever manner they see fit. If someone duplicates their work or a significant portion of it without permission, that is considered a violation of the author's rights. For instance, duplicating a musical composition or sound recording on a CD, computer file, or by putting it in a film, etc.

  1. Synchronisation right

This right allows for the broadcasting of the performance after it has been combined with any visual representation. It takes a lot of thinking and effort to synchronise one's musical composition with a visual piece of art. Therefore, in such cases, the original owner of the song's consent is necessary.

  1. Mechanical right

The words mechanical and technical are closely related. It has to do with how the song was recorded. Record companies utilise this privilege during the songwriting process and subsequently pay the producer the necessary sum to publish the song or other work.

  1. Derivative right

This right allows the creator of the original work to recreate a new work by altering it and adding new rhythms, rap music, lyrics, and other elements to build a better and more interesting version of it.

  1. Adaptation right

It is called adaptation and the rights attached to it are referred to as adaptation rights when someone utilises their ingenuity to alter some parts in your work or add a new component. The following is defined by the Copyright Act:

  • Dramatic play transformed into non-dramatic work.
  • Restructuring of literacy tasks.
  • A dramatisation of a literary text.
  • Any comedic form, whether in a play or a picture.
  1. Performer right

The term "performer" covers jugglers, singers, dancers, musicians, actors, and other artists who perform their work. The right of performers is described in Section 38, and Section 38A lays out the corresponding legal provisions that grant exclusive rights for performing any act. It can be divided into three categories:

  • Live performance: When they present their work to a crowd, they are entitled to control that particular performance.
  • Performance in cinematography with credit: Performers should be entitled to collect a royalty or financial benefit when they grant permission in writing for their work to be used for a commercial endeavour.

  • Performance in cinematography without credit: In any movie, play, etc., there are a lot of "extras" who play supporting roles. As of right present, the copyright laws offer only moral rights as protection for this group of individuals.

Is playing music in a club infringement?

The copyright holder has given someone permission to make a new remix version, but if they play remix versions in a club without first obtaining authorisation for performance rights, it is against the law. A DJ who works in a club won't be required to pay any royalties. The proprietor of the pub or club will do it. The remix song will be considered fair use if it is used in the actual performance, however, the more money you make without getting permission, the more rules you are breaking.

The composer, not the song's singer, is the rightful owner of the musical composition. Super vs. Gramophone Company of India The Delhi High Court made the observation that each composition has its own structure and shape that serves to construct the entire notation for music in this instance. A musical work is not simply a combination of melody or tuning work. And under the Copyright Act, Section 14(e) grants the owner specific rights to protect their work, including the right to sell or hire it, the right to make any copies of the sound recording, and the ability to interact with the general public.

The following recommendations can be taken to prevent infringement:

  • Buying the song's original recording as opposed to a pirated one.
  • The owner of the song whose reproduction is planned has given their consent beforehand.
  • Pay the song's original owner royalties.
  • Before changing any of the song's content, get permission.
  • Be careful when marketing the song; avoid using labels or packaging that could obscure the identity of the artist.
  • It is suggested to hold off on producing the song again for two years.
  • Make sure you pay the required amount in due time for the dues and royalties. A lapse in payment could halt the creation of songs.

If someone only wants to put all the songs together and utilise them for their own personal usages, such as weddings or other such events and has no financial advantage, they can skip this laborious process.

Remake culture of videos in India

The problem with copyright law extends beyond just music recordings; the next crucial issue here is what happens if the creators make a videotape of the original work. Making videos fall within the umbrella of a cinematography job. Producers frequently choose to turn the remix into a video and share it together with the original song. Now, this results in the theft of both musical and literary works. One such complaint was filed by the original producer of the song "Kanta Laga," who claimed that he had been overly stringent in granting permission for such work and that the woman was dancing indecently in the remix video for the song.


In the eyes of the law, copying an artistic creation, even a song, is illegal. It is crucial to obtain the owner's permission before using the property for this purpose. It goes without saying that the Copyright Act has granted the owner the authority to impose severe sanctions on anyone who violates his rights. Therefore, think twice before attempting to copy someone else's work without that person's consent. It is evident from the foregoing that anyone who satisfies the aforementioned requirements may copyright a remix of music.


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