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Bengaluru’s Dec 31 party suffers PPL’s copyright bogey


“You could be using our copyrighted music” states PPL’s letter. It wants to “facilitate you to lawfully organise events free of legal risks and problems arising from the copyright owner.”

From 2012, social clubs have been paying up PPL its fee under the Indian Copyright Act of 1957 for using commercial music for their year-ender cultural events. The fees would start upwards of INR 30,000 and touch even about a lakh.

But this year, the Federation of Clubs, Karnataka, is up in arms against PPL collecting the fees reportedly on behalf of the music companies. The federation has sought police intervention into the issue. The clubs got together and following some background checks wherein the Club representatives have smelt a rat, has approached the police commissioner to look into the issue wherein thousands of rupees are collected from each club in the name of royalty with no clarity.

On December 28, the federation registered a complaint with Bengaluru’s Commercial Street police wherein it has raised serious apprehensions over the private company collecting the fees without being registered as a ‘Copyright Society’.

This echoes the NRAI’s long-running effort against PPL. “PPL has been approaching our restaurant members for taking mandatory music licences under the Copyright Act. It is relevant to mention that since you are admittedly seeking administration of rights for sound companies, you are required to be registered as a Copyright Society under the Act. You are not registered. Thus the business of issuing licenses under the Act can be done by a Copyright Society. In view of this, you are requested not to approach our members for demanding the above licences,” NRAI secretary general, Prakul Kumar wrote in his letter to PPL.

PPL sent the following notice to a Bengaluru club earlier this month: “Mandatory public performance licence under the Copyright Act 1957 for usage of copyrighted music in Christmas/New Year events to be organised by your premises”, says: “We would like to bring to your attention that in the absence of a public performance licence from our organisation, you will not be able to legally communicate to the public any copyrighted music forming our repertoire. Due to extensive nature of our repertoire which includes copyrighted music of organization that own both Indian and international music, you could be using our copyrighted music. We would like to facilitate you to lawfully organise events free of legal risks and problems arising from the copyright owner, without whose sound recordings your events would be incomplete. Playing music without our licence is a cognizable, non-bailable offence attracting heavy penalty and imprisonment.”

Also Read: PPL & IPRS making unauthorised demands for copyright fees
Also Read: NRAI’s letters to PPL, IPRS & Novex

The complaint says: “Since the last few years, social clubs are faced with imposition of public performance licence to be obtained from a private organisation, Phonographic Performance Ltd, by paying several thousands, and in some cases, beyond a lakh of rupees. Failing which the company threatens that it is empowered to raid the premises, seize the instruments and systems and initiate criminal proceedings. Many of the social clubs, with no alternative as the event managers express fears and to avoid any confrontation, succumb and pay the amount. With no clarity, serious doubts arise whether they (PPL) are duly authorised to collect, use discretion to levy the amount, (and) if their claims are legitimate. We seek a probe into this.”

Wasimuddin, the branch head of PPL’s Bengaluru office says the company represents 250-plus music companies to collect public performance licence fees under the Copyright Act for usage of music commercially. “We are just a facilitation centre; we collect fees on behalf of the music companies and pass it on to them. As per law, any music used beyond your house and personal car attracts Copyright violation,” says Wasimuddin, maintaining that he has no idea about the clubs seeking police intervention.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

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