The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pay-up time for talent TV
- HC tells Zee not to use copyrighted music without licence

Mumbai, July 17: The pioneer of talent hunt shows in India is facing the music over copyright violation.

Zee TV has been asked by Delhi High Court to stop featuring published music in its programmes, shows and serials without obtaining mandatory licence from the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) and the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL).

If the broadcaster does not reach an agreement with the two organisations soon, Zee’s ongoing music talent hunt show — Saregama Challenge 2007 — will find it difficult to stay on air this week. The programme, aired on Fridays and Saturdays, boasts composer-cum-singer-cum-actor Himesh Reshammiya among the judges-cum-mentors.

This is the first time a broadcaster has been dragged to court over violation of music copyright, though hotels and other establishments had faced legal action earlier.

“IPRS and PPL went to court last month after Zee continued to play copyrighted music without licence despite repeated reminders. This is the first time IPRS and PPL have gone to court against a broadcaster over such an issue,” said Savio D’Souza, the general secretary of the Indian Music Industry, the umbrella body to which IPRS and PPL are affiliated.

Playing or performing copyrighted music for commercial gain without paying a licence fee to IPRS and PPL is a violation of the Indian Copyright Act of 1957.

This means even Lata Mangeshkar cannot sing her own songs on a stage or television show in case she has sold the rights of the song to someone else. She will be able to perform such copyrighted songs only after obtaining a licence. But individuals need not get a licence for a party inside private homes.

“The rates are decided on a case-to-case basis. Till now, all channels or producers of serials and music talent shows have applied for a licence before going on air. In cases where the broadcaster has not complied, a gentle reminder from us has solved the matter. But Zee decided to turn a deaf ear,” D’Souza said.

The order passed by the court on July 10 and made available to the complainants on July 16 says: “Till the next date of hearing, the defendants, their servants, agents, employees are hereby restrained from causing the reproduction, broadcast or broadcasting/performing or communication to the public literary and/or musical works and/sound recordings of the plaintiffs’ societies or those of the foreign societies... without obtaining the licences from the plaintiffs.”

“It is well known that music talent shows extensively make use of existing compositions, lyrics and songs belonging to IPRS and PPL. The order highlights another instance of the court upholding the copyright act and sends a strong warning to violators of the law,” said D’Souza.

IPRS is a non-profit making company made of 1,500 local composers, lyricists and song publishers and it operates as a copyright society. PPL is also a non-profit making company and its members include music companies that control lakhs of domestic and international songs.

Zee will have to explain to the court by Thursday why it continued to play copyrighted music.

Zee officials did not respond when contacted.

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