04 Feb

What is IRRO & How it Works

In the area of publishing, reprography is the most common form of reproduction. For this reason, remuneration for reprography from Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs) constitutes an important revenue stream for authors and publishers in many countries.

Many acts of copying are either difficult to control or difficult to administer. Authors and publishers therefore often mandate organisations to manage their copyrights collectively, either through a voluntary private agreement (with or without legislative support) or through a legal license system enshrined in a statute. This where RROs step in to bridge the gap.

RROs exist in more than 50 countries around the world, linked by their umbrella organisation, International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations. In India, the registered “copyright society” for reprographic works is the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation (IRRO).

The Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation was established in the year 2000 under section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. It represents the rights of authors and publishers of literary works, and has global affiliations with international organisations like IFRRO.

Registered by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, IRRO is exclusively permitted to commence the copyright business of “reprographic rights in the field of literary works” in India. It is the sole licensing authority to issue licenses to users of copyrighted works of its members, and collect royalties on the behalf of rights owners and distribute them. The organisation also provides license to content users on behalf of the creators.

Apart from this, IRRO is also responsible for:

  • Accepting mandate from an owner of rights for exclusive authorisation to administer any right in any work by issue of licenses and collecting license fees.
  • Issuing blanket licenses to organisations. The licenses are issued on an annual basis subject to an annual fee, which covers copying throughout the year (eliminating the need to seek permission every time you want to copy!) and includes indemnity from IRRO from all copying done within the T&C of the license.
  • Collecting data from various surveys or other data collecting techniques, and then preparing a distribution scheme based on collected data.
  • Distributing license fees as per its distribution scheme to rights owners, subject to a deduction not exceeding 15% of the collection on account of administrative expenses incurred by the copyright society.
  • Entering into a bilateral agreement with any foreign copyright society, collecting license fees and distributing them to Indian rights owners as per the distribution scheme.

Regulation of reprography is not only important, it is also far more plausible than total abolition. The RRO system has been a phenomenal success worldwide. It’s time for India to follow the same legal footsteps and protect the rights of its authors, publishers and the public in general.