A public discourse has been ongoing in various mainstream and social media platforms since the last four months concerning performing rights permission particularly for songs or musical compositions. The discourse first caught wider public attention when following a reunion concert Ahmad Dhani, the founder of an influential Indonesian rock band Dewa 19, openly forbid one of the band’s former main vocalists, Once Mekel, to perform any of Dewa 19’s songs in his own shows.
The discourse was soon joined with a number of other musicians having much or less similar problem. One example is when a former songwriting member of another rock band named Kerispatih granted his former band permission to performs songs that he wrote only under special agreement that needed to be renewed annually. Another case is when a groove jazz band made a bold statement that they do not want to share any stage with their former vocalist, only for the vocalist to return with refusal to allow the band to perform any song that she claimed to have authored.
The discussion soon developed into a heated public debate across different medias and platform, and there is concern that the situation may potentially be dragged into becoming more political as some musicians involved are known to maintain their aspiration to run as member of parliament in the next year general election. Lately the discussion has even arrived at one point where there is a push for legislation change.
The focal point of the debate is actually Article 9 of Law no. 28 of 2014 concerning Copyrights, where an author of a copyrighted work is granted the economic rights to exclusively use the work, including to perform the work in public either directly or indirectly, which is familiarly known as the performing rights. In the second paragraph of the Article, it is clearly stated that no one can use the work without permission from the author.
The Law no. 28 of 2014, however, also provides in Article 23 (5) that anyone may perform any work without necessarily having to seek permission from the author, as long as the aforementioned user has paid for the license through the respective collective management organization (CMO). Those who are in agreement with songwriters’ rights to forbid anyone from performing the song are generally holding to Article 9 of the Law by holding that Article 23(5) is mere optional. On the other hand, those in favor with freedom for anyone to perform any song they like insist that Article 23 (5) is a specific exclusion to Article 9 especially with regards to performing rights.
In response to how the situation develops, the Indonesian IP Office – Directorate General of IP (DGIP) – held a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) at Gran Melia Hotel in Jakarta on Thursday, May 11, 2023, by inviting stakeholders to Indonesian music scenes and industry. At the morning session a panel discussion was held with panelists representing different interests . First panel is Chandra Darusman, a senior musician who happened to spent years working at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and spoke in his capacity as the President of Indonesian Federation of Musician Unions (FESMI). Second panel was Professor Asep N. Mulyana, the Director General of Legislations of the Ministry of Laws and Human Rights. The third was Panji Prasetyo, legal counsel of Once Mekel, while the fourth was Badai, the former member of Kerispatih. The last two panels represented academic point of views through Professor Agus Sarjono from the University of Indonesia and Professor Mas Rahmah from Airlangga University. The panel is moderated by the Director of Copyrights, Anggoro Dasananto, while Director General of Intellectual Property Mien Usihen gave opening speech.