Mumbai hotel faces the music for playing film songs without permission

Novotel hotel in Juhu has been accused of playing popular Hindi movie songs on New Year's Eve without acquiring performance licence; FIR filed five months later, after court order

The Juhu police on Sunday registered an FIR against Novotel hotel and its manager Tejas Jose for playing famous Hindi movie songs on New Year’s Eve without acquiring performance licence. The case was registered by Novex communication, a satellite channel distribution company and authorised copyright holder for Zee Music, Shemaroo, Yash Raj films and other music labels.

Novotel hotel in Juhu. File pic
Novotel hotel in Juhu. File pic

The FIR was registered under section 418 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 63 and 69 of the Indian Copyright Act for playing Teri meri kahani (Gabbar Is Back), Manali Trance (The Shaukeens) and Gulabo jara ittar girado (Shaandar).

The incident
On New Year’s Eve, Novex investigator N Gopalkrishnan entered the hotel after paying a cover charge of Rs 4,999. Upon discovering that the hotel management was playing the aforementioned songs illegally, he recorded a video of the party so that it could be used as evidence against the hotel and approached the Juhu police on January 1.

To the dismay of the Novex representative, the police refused to file a complaint. Later, help was sought from the deputy commissioner of police. However, here too, the firm’s plea of filing a complaint against Novotel fell on deaf ears, following which Novex moved Andheri court. In the first week of May, directives were issued to Juhu Police to investigate the matter, register a case and submit its report in the court at the earliest. Based on the court’s order, an FIR was finally filed on Sunday against Novotel and Jose.

An officer from Juhu police station said, “The reason we didn’t file an FIR was because it wasn’t a regular crime. This case comprises copyright infringement. Protocol dictates we await court orders before lodging an FIR in such cases.”

Speaking to mid-day, Novex spokesperson said, “We had been informing the hotel and its manager since June 2015 about securing a licence for playing music, but they paid no heed to our requests. So we decided to take matter into our own hands, and recorded the illegal activity. We have faith in the judiciary and now an FIR has been filed following the court’s order.”

Despite repeated attempts, Jose remained unavailable for comment.

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