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Music guard warns of licence fee frauds

A group of impostors has been trying to trick owners of Calcutta’s party hangouts, demanding cash on behalf of the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) ahead of New Year’s Eve.

Clubs, restaurants or other commercial places, where copyrighted music is played, are required to pay a licence fee to PPL, the umbrella body of music labels.

But frauds posing as PPL representatives are going around asking for the copyright fee in cash.

“Calcutta has been a model city for the past many years. Violation is not as much as it used to be and people pay in advance. This year, a new problem has cropped up. Some guys are visiting venues on behalf of PPL but they are actually unscrupulous people. We have received complaints and this is worrying us. These guys ask for cash… a mode of payment we generally don’t accept,” said Sowmya Chowdhury, the PPL country head and director (operations), from Delhi.

The problem is unique to Calcutta. “We have written to the venues not to make any payment without checking the guy’s identity card. It’s not possible to pay in cheque in situations such as a programme scheduled for the evening when the PPL guys call in. It’s okay to pay cash, but check the identity card first,” Chowdhury added.

“We don’t know how many of these frauds are doing the rounds. We need to catch them red-handed.”

PPL, a copyright society registered with the Union government and formed in 1941, has so far received 10 complaints of which five-six are “expected” to be resolved.

The ombudsman for music labels has stepped up vigil with reinforcement from other states to catch the cons and make them face the music.