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New year parties may give latest Bollywood hits a miss

MUMBAI: Party going types hoping to welcome 2020 to the accompaniment of Lamberghini, Saki Saki or even Aankh Maare could end up being disappointed. Many Indian clubs and hotels may not be playing the latest Bollywood chartbusters because party organisers grouse that up to four different agencies need to be paid for performance rights and that the process is too cumbersome. The agencies contend that they are merely enforcing the rules and making sure that their clients get paid.

The agencies include Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) India, Novex Communications, Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and the Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA). PPL and Novex between them have the rights to more than 3 million songs.

The issue comes up every year at about this time as PPL and Novex file injunctions in various courts against clubs and hotels. PPL, Novex and IPRS have got restraining orders from various high courts against more than 600 hotels, pubs and restaurants across the country that have been playing music without obtaining proper licences. Bollywood songs and remixes top the charts at most events that feature dancing in India.

PPL says it has more than 340 labels on its roster. Novex has licensing rights for the catalogues of Zee Music, Yash Raj Films, Eros and Tips, along with the songs of Sukhbir and DJ Nucleya. IPRS is authorised under Section 33 of the Copyright Act to collect licensing fees for public music performances from organisers.

‘Want to deal with one player’

ISRA, on the other hand, charges royalty from organisers for singers.

“There is so much confusion and all these bodies are behaving like extortionists,” said the head of a large event company. “Each one of them says they are authentic. I want to deal with one player. If I start paying all of them, the music rights alone will cost me between Rs 5-6 lakh in a category A city, which usually is entire cost of a party.”

Many event organisers and club owners voiced the same concerns. They said that every agency has a different rate card starting from as low as Rs 5,000 for a non-ticketed event to as high as Rs 3 lakh.

The rates depend on the city, number of guests and duration of the event.

“Usually, venues pay for the music rights, but lately it is becoming more and more difficult,” said a Mumbai-based club owner. “For a four-hour party, a DJ will play around 120-130 songs. A lot will be requests. Do you think he will have time to check if he has the rights to play those songs? We need to simplify this whole process.”

The restraining orders have been issued by the high courts of Bombay, Madras, Punjab and Haryana and Calcutta.

Mumbai-based PPL had approached the Bombay High Court against hotels and restaurants such as the Radisson, Olive Bar & Kitchen, Impresario Hospitality (Social, Smoke House Deli), Massive Restaurants (Masala Library, Papaya, Farzi Cafe) and British Brewing Company to persuade them to seek licences.

Rajat Kakar, managing director and CEO of PPL India, said the cost of not complying and then facing court action is much steeper than paying the fees. He also denied that the process was cumbersome. “We have seen a major change in people’s behaviour and now most of the people are willing to pay fees,” Kakar said. “We have made the process very easy to obtain permission and licences through the online process, which has also resulted in good turnaround.”

PPL India has also entered into reciprocal agreements with counterparts abroad, with local associations collecting fees on its behalf in jurisdictions such as Canada, Nepal, the UK, the US, Malaysia and Australia. The licensing agency is in talks with groups in other countries where Indian music is popular or that have a large Indian origin community for similar arrangements.

Source: Economic Times