Following a post lockdown explosion in online events, major consumer brands, leading artists and top ticketing platforms are rushing to lawyers seeking counsel on a host of rights and licensing issues emanating from live streaming of content.
The major issues up for discussion were licensing deals for digital, licensing of third-party rights and monetisation of the content on digitals platforms.
The overnight shutdown of the on-ground live events due to Covid-19 pandemic saw a sudden spurt in virtual events.
Entertainers, including musicians, singers, stand-up comics, fitness and wellness show hosts are all looking to reach audiences through online platforms.
“Rights licensing related issues in the digital ecosystem are diverse,” said Priyanka Khimani, a lawyer who advises on entertainment and music rights. “The usage of the third-party owned material, whether it’s music or clippings from another video, photographs or an even a gif, will almost always require some form of clearance or authorisation or licence before you can freely use it as part of, or in connection with, your own content or platform.”
According to Khimani, the nature of how such third-party owned material is being used, which rights are likely to be utilised while creating fresh content, and its expression and communication on a platform are all determining factors for licensing in the digital content universe.
For instance, there are different licences for social media platforms like Instagram Live and YouTube, and for other pay-walled platforms like Zoom.
“The licences are dependent on platforms and programming,” said Gunjan Arya, CEO of artiste and event management company, OML Entertainment. “We had to take different licenses for ‘NH7 Weekender – Happy At Home’ that happened on Instagram and mostly featured indie musicians and international headliners, versus for YouTube ‘One Nation’ that had a plethora of Bollywood acts along with a host of YouTube creators.”
Apart from NH7 Weekender and YouTube One Nation, OML has also live streamed two edition of ‘The Circuit Comedy Festival’, ‘Stay Home For India’ with Kaneez Surka and Tanmay Bhat on Bhat’s YouTube channel, and ‘Chess For Charity’ with Samay Raina.
Experts feel that with entertainment going online, it has become crucial for entertainers and organisers to learn how to navigate the rights and licensing landscape in a seamless, effective and lucrative manner.
However, it is easier said than done. “This licensing topic is still under discussion, and there is no clear direction from the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) or Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL),” said one organiser.
Meanwhile, Blaise Fernandes, president of the Indian Music Industry (IMI), said the music industry and all the member record labels of IMI are supporting the online concerts and industry body is helping to smoothen up the licensing process for all artistes.