Delhi may fall short of venues to celebrate and welcome the New Year this time around as Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) has served notices to several well known hotels and pubs. These legal notices have been issued to venues that have not paid the requisite music license fee to play music at their year-end events. PPL plans to initiate strict legal action against defaulters in case the license fee does not get paid ahead of their planned events.
The following is the list where interim injunction given by the Delhi High Court: Radisson Blu Hotel, Paschim Vihar; Hype at Shangri-La Hotel; QBA; Sheraton Hotel; Hilton Hotel; Double Tree Hilton; ChalChitra; Crowne Plaza; Wyndham Hotel; Club Sirocco; Nautica; Play Lounge Bar; 3 Stories; The Glassy Junction; Hang Out; Club Headquarters, Pitampura.
PPL has issued notices to all prominent places that have failed to pay music license fee across the country.
Commenting on this issue, Vipul Pradhan, CEO, PPL, in a release, said, “New Year parties attract people by promising them a good time through a combination of entertainment, food and beverage. A significant component of the sum charged from the customers is for music – an integral element of entertainment. Therefore, the music companies whose sound recording is regularly used have a right to claiming their due because their product is getting consumed too.”
Under the statutory sanction of section 35 in the Indian Copyright Act, playing commercial music in public without paying the requisite license fee is an offence liable to contempt of court. Section 35 grants exclusivity to PPL to issue licenses to hotels/ pubs for playing music during the events in their respective premises. The tariff for the same is calculated on the basis of the number of hours the music is to be played and the number of people expected to attend the event.
According to Sowmya Chowdhury, Country Head, PPL, “Musical nights and customised New Year events rake in huge revenues for pubs’ organisers. A year-ending event cannot be imagined without music. Yet, when it comes to paying for the commercial use of music, the event organisers chose to evade the license fee.”
According to Avinash D'Souza, National Sales Manager, PPL, “Music labels have complete authority over the sound recordings and using them without a proper license can bring the events and parties to a standstill. People should also act proactively and check with their chosen properties to avoid a last minute inconvenience or embarrassment. To prevent such situations, this year we have expanded our operations to a national campaign in all major cities.”
Every year, pubs/ hotels target revenues with customised New Year packages, but are reluctant to pay a nominal license fee (which varies depending on the number of hours for which the music is played) to PPL. Thus, flouting the norms and eating into the royalties of the music labels. Disc jockeys, too, need to abide by PPL guidelines if they continue to play music without paying the license fees.
Music Licencing Laws in India
Any performance of Indian or even international music in public places or commercial establishments such as hotels and resorts, restaurants, bars, pubs, shacks, discotheques, DJs, cruise liners, cinema halls, shops, banks, offices, amusement parks and so on, rendered without first having obtained a licence from PPL, constitutes an infringement of Copyright under the Copyright Act, 1957.
Incorporated in 1941, PPL is the apex-licencing arm of the Indian Music Industry (IMI) and was formulated to administer the broadcast, telecast and public performance rights of its member companies. Formerly known as Indian Phonographic Industry (IPI), PPL currently has over 241 member companies and is registered with the Registrar of Copyrights since 1996.
The member companies of PPL have assigned their performing rights in sound recordings to PPL, by virtue of which it is the designated authority to issue public performance licenses all over India and also ensure fair payment of tariffs to all the recording companies. This includes the communication of music to the public in any form, be it acoustic or visual, and covers music recorded in any format or communicated by way of a radio, a World Space receiver, a television set or a cable network.