July 5, 2024

Surviving on Creativity: The Struggle for Fair Royalties and Copyright Protection

Behind the bright stage lights and booming cheers from adoring fans, many Indonesian musicians still face challenges related to the  copyright protection of their works. Photo by Ivan Hermawan on Unsplash.

The rapid growth of the Indonesian creative industry continues to inspire creators to produce quality works, not only as a form of self-expression but also as a source of income. And yet, the lack of understanding regarding the intricacies of intellectual property (IP) protection among creators often renders them vulnerable to exploitation, both in terms of profit and broader artistic development.

Young, talented creators finding themselves stuck in unfavorable positions is nothing new. Other than having to face plagiarism cases, illegal distribution, and exploitative business contracts, one set of problems stood out especially among upcoming and aspiring music artists: unfair royalties and tricky copyright protection. 

This issue was highlighted by Ratri Ninditya, Research Coordinator of Koalisi Seni (Indonesian Arts Coalition), during her presentation as one of the panelists of the discussion Timeout Episode 3 “IP:101 Own & Protect Your Creative Works” on Thursday (27/06). 

The newest research conducted by Koalisi Seni Diam-diam Merugikan (“Quietly Harmful”) exposes the many problems plaguing the digital music copyright protection in Indonesia. “Copyright often only protects intermediaries such as record labels and digital platforms, not the musicians themselves,” said Ratri. 

The Bitter Reality Faced by Many Local Musicians

There are still many gaps that make Indonesian musicians and songwriters vulnerable. In this digital era, where widespread distribution renders the access to music increasingly easy, the challenge for musicians to earn a fair income from their work has become increasingly complex. 

Ratri pointed out several areas within the Indonesian Copyright Law that many creators found rather problematic. “In practice, it’s actually ambiguous. Article 82, Paragraph (3) of the Copyright Law prohibits license agreements from eliminating or taking over all of the creators’ rights to their work. However, this contradicts the law regarding commissioned works, which allows outright sale. Therefore, creators need to be cautious,” she explained.

Ratri Ninditya gave her presentation at Timeout! Ep.3 IP 101: Own and Protect Your Creative Works alongside other speakers Mochtar Sarman (left) and Rahadian Agung (second to right), with Ezra Mandira (right) acting as moderator.  ©ACE-YS/Gani Amin

In addition to this, the research also highlighted the law’s lack of regulation pertaining specifically to digital music, as it only provides copyright protection within a very general scope, accommodating forms of art other than music. As a result, the definition of rights and parties becomes too broad to be effectively applied to the specific workings of the digital music industry.

“In the past, selling one million copies of a song could generate huge profits. But, how about now?” Ratri said, pointing out the economic irony faced by musicians in today’s digital era. 

The Need for a Paradigm Shift in the Ever-changing Industry

To remain competitive and sustainable in the fast-moving environment, creative workers need a safe ecosystem that provides a more comprehensive copyrights legal protection. 

“The government should take into consideration the ecosystem and encourage its development. We need to have entertainment companies to accommodate creators in various fields, such as filmmakers, musicians, etc., to optimize discussion and collaboration,” said Mochtar Sarman (CEO of Juara Raga Adidaya & The Licensing Guy) who also came as a speaker in Timeout Ep.3. 

Another speaker of the session, Rahadian Agung (VP of Business Development at SpringBoard), added the importance of creators’ roles in the creative industry. “Creators should also have an understanding of running a business. It is highly recommended to find the right business partners who can collaborate to advance the realization of the creators’ works,” he said.

At the end of the day, copyright protection is a shared responsibility among every stakeholder involved in the creative ecosystem. Only then, local musicians and other creative workers are able to not only survive, but actually thrive in the industry.

Writer : Ramos M.Y. Siahaan & Khalid Rismoyo
Editor : K. Langit Rinesti

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