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Quiet festive nights likely if hotels, pubs fail to pay music license fee to PPL

25-December-2007
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Quiet festive nights likely if hotels, pubs fail to pay music license fee to PPL

The Capital may fall short of venues to celebrate and welcome the New Year this time round as the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) has served notices to many well-known hotels and pubs. These legal notices have been issued to all venues that have not paid the requisite music license fee to play music at their year-end bashes, and action would be taken against those who fail to pay up. PPL has also issued notices to other cities like Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai.

Incorporated in 1941, PPL is the apex licensing arm of the Indian music industry and was formulated to administer the broadcast, telecast and public perrformance rights of its member companies. Formerly known as Indian Phonographic Industry (IPI), PPL currently has more than 140 member companies and is registered with the Registrar of Copyrights since 1996.

The defaulters list this year includes some of the Capital’s top venues like Decibel, Nirula’s, City Park Hotels, Delhi’s Devils, V3S Mall, Lovely Obsession, Splash Hotels, Parikrama, RPM and several others.

According to Sowmya Chowdhury, National Sales Manager-Events, PPL, “Musical nights and customised New year packages are some of the most prolific means of revenue for pubs and hotels. A New Year’s bash cannot be imagined without music. Yet when it comes to paying for the commercial use of music, the profit makers choose to evade the license fee. The defaulters would have to pay Rs 2 lakh and face three years’ imprisonment. About 75-100 people are going around the places to keep a check. We will be going to these hotels to record the show and then approach the court. There were 300 hotels, pubs, discotheques in Delhi who were given notices, and 50 per cent of them have paid up.”

Chowdhury explained that playing commercial music without paying a copyright license fee is liable to contempt of court under Section 35 in the Copyright Act.

“To control the situation, this year we have expanded our operations to a national campaign in all major cities,” she elaborated.

Section 35 grants exclusivity to PPL to issue licenses to hotels and pubs for playing music during the events in their premises, and 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 do.

Each year pubs and hotels rake in revenues with customised New Year packages ranging from Rs 1,500-20,000, but refuse to pay PPL the nominal tariff of Rs 40,000 onwards, which varies depending on the number of hours for which the music is played; thus flouting the norms and eating into the royalties of artistes. The DJs too will not be spared if they continue to play music without paying the license fees.

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