Songwriters Complain of Copyright Infringement on Digital Platforms

The Petitioners’ witnesses taking oath before testifying at a material judicial review hearing of Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyright, Thursday (11/16/2023). Photo by MKRI/Ifa.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — The composer of the popular song Harta Berharga, the theme song of past TV series Keluarga Cemara, Hari Tjahjono, was present at a judicial review hearing of Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyright (Copyright Law). He testified as a witness for the Petitioners, PT Aquarius Pustaka Musik, PT Aquarius Musikindo, and singer Melly Goeslaw. The sixth hearing for Case No. 84/PUU-XXI/2023 was held on Thursday, November 16, 2023 in the plenary courtroom of the Constitutional Court (MK). At the hearing, the Petitioners also presented two other witnesses, songwriter Yudis Dwikorana and music label owner Ruli Afian Yusuf.

At the hearing chaired by Chief Justice Suhartoyo, Hari Tjahjono recounted the work he had produced. He hopes that as an artist, the creative works in the form of songs that he created when he was young can be an asset for his retirement in old age.

“However, the current conditions and situation have dashed my expectations due to the emergence of platforms or applications that provide space for anyone to upload their work. The uploaded works are not always original works and used without the permission of the creators, for business purposes and so on,” he said.

Hari also revealed that the digital platforms are directly proportional with printed press, which is equally consumed by the public. He believes that the press mechanism of the right to revision, the right to reply, and the Press Council in the event of cases should also be adopted to digital platforms.

“Throughout my experience as a journalist, there is one particular case, when tabloid Monitor held a poll on ‘who Indonesians like the most.’ The name Arswendo Atmowiloto, editor-in-chief of tabloid Monitor, emerged as winner. The poll was conducted by the advertising department and the voters were Monitor readers. In the mechanism of the printed press, there is a system of rectification, the right to reply, the Press Council, and the law. When [these] could not handle a case, the case was brought to court and Arswendo was sentenced to 5 years in prison and tabloid Monitor was disbanded,” he explained.

Unfortunately, Hari said, if there is content on digital platforms that harms other parties, the sanction is only the removal of the harmful content. A songwriter who has been harmed does not have any other solution, even though the content has been copied, pasted, downloaded, and circulated on social media. “There is no responsibility at all from the digital platform that first provided space to upload the content for public consumption,” he said.

Hari said such incidents are very detrimental to songwriters as victims due to the exploitation of content that plagiarizes and uses their creative work without permission.

“Our songs and creative works may be just for entertainment, but what if the songs that are exploited without permission are national songs? Would the sanction also only be taking down or deletion, and the case is deemed closed? What if these national songs are used to sell inappropriate things, or even promote prohibited ideologies in Indonesia?” he said.

Aquarius Musikindo songwriter Yudis Dwikorana echoed the same sentiment. He has created several hit songs such as the song sung by Agnez Monica Tidak Ada Logika and the song Bebas sung by Iwa K. In his testimony, he asserted that digital platforms do not care about royalties for songwriters like him.

“However, I am still grateful that social media such as YouTube has a partnership that pays royalties, even though it is very far compared to the old days of CD or VCD sales. Of course, what I regret is that there are similar platforms that don’t care and do not cooperate while letting their users use our songs. For example, Likee app. My song (Tak Ada Logika) was uploaded and used as content in the application but my name as the creator was not written down, and Aquarius Pustaka Musik has been warned but it goes on and on,” he said.

Meanwhile, music label owner Ruli Afian Yusuf revealed his experience related to song copyrights. He said that after a song is created, there will be production and distribution of the musicians’ work to digital service providers to be enjoyed by the public.

“There is one time when our musician’s trending song appeared on one of the digital service provider platforms with a modified singer and songwriter, re-registered with new attributes including a publisher from abroad. We asked the publisher to take it down, now the song is no longer on the platform even though the process took quite a long time,” he said.

After investigation, the song’s audio was apparently taken from a cover song on a digital social media sharing platform without his permission as the label/owner of the master and representative of the songwriter. The cover video content can be played and monetized by the perpetrator and gets a pretty good response and produces significant monetization value.

Also read:

Unable to Sue Platform Providers, Aquarius Musikindo Challenges Copyright Law

Aquarius Musikindo Revises Legal Standing

International Treaties Ratified for Protection of Indonesian Copyrighted Works

PT Aquarius Pustaka Musik, PT Aquarius Musikindo, and singer Melly Goeslaw challenge provisions on the prohibition imposed on managers of places of commerce against allowing the sale and/or duplication of goods resulting from infringement of copyright and/or relevant rights at the places they manage in Articles 10 and 114 of Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyright. The Petition was registered with Case No. 84/PUU-XXI/2023. 

The Petitioners revealed a concrete case in which social media platforms broadcast songs or master recordings belonging to the Petitioners without their permission. However, the Copyright Law has not regulated the accountability of digital service providers, especially ones that have user-generated content (UGC)

The Petitioners sued one of platform providers over the prevalence of contents that violated the Petitioners’ copyright of their songs or masters, but it claimed that based on statutory regulations, platform providers are not liable for contents uploaded by users nor for taking down those contents upon objections by the copyright holders.

The Petitioner believes the Copyright Law has not regulated such things so Articles 10 and 114 of the Copyright Law are the chief harbor of prohibition against any place of commerce allowing services or duplication of contents that infringe on copyrights. However, those articles have not accommodated current phenomena such as UCG-based social media.

As such, in the petitum, the Petitioners request that the Court declare Articles 10 and 114 of the Copyright Law conditionally unconstitutional and not legally binding.

Author              : Utami Argawati
Editor                : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR                    : Tiara Agustina
Translator         : Tahlitha Laela/Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 20:09 WIB 170