Legality of remixed music according to copyright laws in India


Do you remember iconic songs like Bachna Ae Haseeno, Badanpe Sitare, Kehdoon Tumhe and Laila main Laila from the 70s, 80s or 90s? They were all blockbusters. The trend you see in movies or web series these days is a remixed version of these several renowned Bollywood songs. YouTube and Instagram Reels are full of videos of people or influencers singing and lip-syncing to songs of their own caliber. Speaking of remixes, composers alter the musical harmony by adding or changing beats and lyrics. Will it constitute copyright infringement if done without the consent of the original composer?

A remix can be explained as a multimedia composition that has been customized from its original state by increasing, removing and modifying segments of the music/melody. In the current era of exceptional remixes, a lack of originality in the music industry is discerned as many people are of the opinion that any unauthorized excerpt taken from an already established work amounts to copyright infringement. author. Additionally, the remix has made a significant contribution to society by providing entertaining content and has become a consistent part of user-generated content (UGC). The remixes have also made a substantial contribution when it comes to social media, e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. Additionally, copyright law incorporates sound recordings that represent any song with or without music and can podcasts or audios. Taking the example of Spotify, all audios and podcasts are copyrighted. We are fully aware of the fact that as soon as something is created, it is conventionally considered a work protected by copyright (whether registered or not). If a remix is ​​created without obtaining the prior consent of the original owner, it will result in an unauthorized remix and other repercussions for the original owner. Therefore, to make it eligible, a legal checklist must be followed.


Indian copyright law has its origins in the colonial rule of 1847. In 1914, the copyright law was again enacted in India with some significant changes. The 1914 regulations continued until new legislation was enacted in 1957. The new legislation was called the Copyright Act, 1957. In 2012, Parliament proclaimed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012which aimed to bring Indian copyright laws internationally and in line with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties, for example, the WIPO Copyright Treaty. (WCT) and the WIPO Performance and Program Treaty (WPPT). The changes made in 2012 were as follows:

  • Changes in the right to artistic work such as motion pictures and sound recordings.
  • Changes in Licensing and Assignment.
  • WIPO Treaty Compliant Changes.
  • Maintain all copyright permission records.
  • Protection against Internet piracy.
  • Protect remix makers under copyright law.
  • Prior consent must be obtained from the owner of the copyrighted work.


Section 52(1)(j) Copyright The law says it will not constitute an infringement if a sound recording of the original literary or musical work prevails and the person seeking to copy it has duly consented to use it and create a sound recording and has also paid the original owner – the cost of royalties which has been predetermined by the Copyright Board.

The person seeking to create the remix may not make changes without the owner’s consent or may not make changes that are not required for the compliance of the work. The new phonogram should not be promoted with labels or covers that could mislead the public about the artist’s originality. The remix must not be produced before the expiration of two years after the end of the year in which the original song was created.

Ownership under the Act: The original owner has the right to review all recordings and postings with reference to the remix. The consent of the owner of the original song is consequential because the original sound recording was made by the owner and therefore he owns the exclusive right to the title. If the copyright owner files a complaint that the royalty has not been paid, or if the Copyright Board is prima facie satisfied with that complaint, it may warrant an order terminating the production of sound recordings and after carrying out additional investigations, it may adopt the necessary measures according to its convenience. Section 52(1)(j), stipulates that works as music and sound recordings must acquire permission from the copyright holder for specific performance and modifications. This acts as a legitimate sanction to use the copyrighted work in a certain way provided the user pays the required fee or complies with the stipulations of the law.


According to Article 51 of the Law, if a person violates the right granted to the copyright holder, it will be considered an infringement. However, it will not constitute an infringement in such cases, where:

  • A person copies a musical work, an artistic work or any other work by giving his prior consent and paying a deposit to the owner of the original work.
  • The new work must not be promoted with labels or covers that could mislead the public as to the identity of the artist.
  • The new work must not be created before the expiry of a period of two years following the end of the year in which the original work was created.
  • The owner should be granted the right to examine all books and publications with reference to the new work.
  • It is understandable from the above points that the consent of the original owner of the musical work is of paramount importance and the remix should not be done before the expiration of 2 years from the end of the year in which the original song was created.


The law is unwilling to disclose information about legal licenses to make remixes. Section 31(c) of the The law stipulates the licensing of cover versions. The provision appears to prohibit the making of cover recordings without prior consent. He proclaims that “The person making these sound recordings must not make any modification to the literary or musical work which has not been previously made by or with the consent of the rights holder, or which is not technically necessary for the purposes of making the recordings. sound.”.

Nonetheless, for all practical justifications, an individual can create remixes without permission, thereby mitigating the rights of the original owner. To this day, it is unclear whether the law apprehends remixes as covers under said law.


Obtaining consent from the original manufacturer is consequential the business of Ganpati Aarti Ashtvinayak Geete, the defendant wanted to create audio tapes with reference to the Ganpati Aarti. He requested the original sound recording from the plaintiff and offered a license fee, but the plaintiff declined his offer and therefore consent was not granted on the plaintiff’s behalf. Nevertheless, the defendant purchased the sound recording for the manufacture of the cassettes which were then held as an act of infringement.

Working without the permission of the original owner will result in an offence: In Gramophone Company v Mars Recording, In this case, the court ruled that compliance with the requirements mentioned in article 52, paragraph 1, will not be considered an offense and that there will be no obligation to grant consent or a license.

In the case Super Cassette Industries Ltd v Bathla Cassette Industries Pvt Ltd, it was felt that as such no changes should be made to the vocalist’s voice as the voice is the soul of every song.


  1. the statutory license system: The license that must be obtained to play any remix song must be updated.
  2. Royalties: the royalties to be paid to the original owner of the song should be prescribed because the cost of the royalties to be paid is not mentioned in the law.


Copyright law protects the work of the artist/owner and gives the owner the right to sell and distribute their work. A remix song is only legal when the owner of the remix song gives notice via a notice stating their intentions behind the remix song and pays a royalty to the original owner. It may sound simple, but there are few loopholes in the law that require rectification, as the requirement for copyright protection increases in the music industry. With the changing trend in the music industry, the laws and regulations also need to be changed to meet the need of the industry. A clear definition of a remix song must be proclaimed with the specific cost of the royalty that must be paid to the original artist so that the freedom of the owner is not exploited.


Whether you’re creating a personal mash-up for your playlist or gearing up to spin your first set at the club, your remix could turn out to be worth a royal ransom if a copyright owner sues you for infringement. Creating a remix is ​​a much more complicated legal matter than just using a segment in one of your songs. Now why is this happening? Well, when you create a remix, you produce something which is popularly known as “derivative work.” To record a derivative work, you must obtain consent from the owner, specifically the artist or label that owns the master recording and the person/company that owns the publishing rights to the song. There are some steps you need to follow to create a legit remix from copyrighted music:

  1. Buy a copy of the song(s). Pirated music is always illegal regardless of its effortless availability.
  2. Obtaining consent from the copyright holder. Each segment of recorded music has at least two copyrights: first, for the song and second, for the master recording. You must obtain permission from both copyright holders.
  3. Maintaining an authorization file. It is essential to have a paper trail indicating that the copyright holder has authorized you to make a remix of their song.

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