BMG Music Publishing has formed a joint venture with New Delhi-based Deep Emotions Publishing, a publisher that has licensed BMG's catalog for several years.

Under the deal, the two publishers will jointly sign local lyricists and composers to publishing agreements and provide them with creative, financial, promotional, administrative and legal support.

Experts in India say that 90% of the songwriters in India do not own any rights in their works. Usually they assign all rights to film production companies.

"Often those who create the songs that are on the lips of millions are faced with insurmountable financial struggles and have the greatest difficulty in retaining and protecting their copyrights or collecting a fair return for their critical creative efforts," says Achille Forler, Deep Emotions managing director. "This is a landmark deal which will immensely benefit the songwriters, in particular, but also the Indian music industry as a whole."

BMG is reportedly the first major publisher to sue Indian record companies over the failure to pay songwriter royalties for international artists. The case is still pending.

Once rights are enforced, publishers could benefit from the market. The Indian entertainment industry, which BMG says is currently estimated at $8 billion, has benefited from the strong performance of the Indian economy and is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 20% over the next five years.

"Together we believe we can be pioneers in the field of music publishing on the Indian subcontinent," says Andrew Jenkins, president of BMG Music Publishing International. "I fully expect our joint venture company to sign up the most exciting and innovative songwriters working in India today. With BMG's global resources, we will be able to provide them with the same respect and support that we do for Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Coldplay and all of the other songwriters who have entrusted their works to us."