With Navratri mandals all set to belt out peppy numbers you can tap your feet to, the ongoing tussle between them and the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) -- which issues licences and collects royalty for copyright music -- has seen an intervention in favour of the former.
The Stage Performances Scrutiny Board (SPSB), also known as Rangbhumi Prayog Parinirikshan Mandal, recently issued a notice to all theatres, auditoriums and mandals, asking them not to pay any licence fee to IPRS.
The order copy (with MiD DAY) says that SPSB is the ultimate authority to issue licences for any stage performance; that bodies like the IPRS, which claim to be the final authority, are fake, and if they are found asking for fee, it should be brought to the notice of the police.
"We have received more than 200 complaints from artists, informing us that the IPRS was extorting money in their name, which was never passed on to them. Acting on these complaints, we were forced to issue the letter informing theatres, mandals, etc to stop taking the IPRS licence. The licence issued by us is final, and it is all that is required," said F Shinde, chairman, SPSB.
Shinde has decided to write a letter to the Home Ministry, seeking an enquiry into the the functioning of IPRS. "Even the High Court has pulled up the IPRS. However, they are still extorting money," he said.
'We are legit'
However, GG Prasad, senior regional manager, licensing, IPRS has a different tale to share. "Navratri mandals informed us that SPSB had sent them a letter asking them not to pay us. We were never consulted before they issued this notice. Since the society's institution in 1969, we have been collecting the licence fee on behalf of our members. Who is SPSB to issue such notices? We are a copyright society listed with the registrar of copyright, HRD Ministry. The claim made by the board is wrong and we will take them to court."
He added, "The society was formed to work on behalf of our members who cannot individually travel to all places and collect licence fee."
Meanwhile, mandals are more than happy to be playing popular music and draw in more footfalls.
Devendra Joshi, the organiser of Sankalp, said, "Festivals such as Ganeshotsav and Navratri should be exempt from paying the licence fee. There are bodies that try to extort money; the government should clarify which the authorised body is. We will follow the SPSB's notice as it is a government body."
'No royalty for live music'
In a landmark judgment recently, the Bombay High Court has upheld the right of the music companies over a song recording. Music composers and lyricists were demanding a separate royalty every time their music was played. The court ruled that the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS), a body that safeguards the copyrights of composers and lyricists, was not entitled to claim royalty or licence fee for stage performances for recorded song and music, including that played on radio stations.