HC rejects plea by hotels to allow them to play movie songs on NYE

Updated: Dec 27, 2017, 16:28 IST | Suraj Ojha | Mumbai

Rejecting a plea by hotels to allow them to play movie songs on New Year's Eve, the court said that it is mandatory for hotels to procure licences from the copyright owner of the songs

Don't have licence, can't play movie songs – this is the diktat that the Bombay High Court has issued dampening party plans of thousands in the city who are gearing up to usher in the new year in a gala way. Rejecting a plea by hotels to allow them to play movie songs on New Year's Eve, the court said that it is mandatory for hotels to procure licences from the copyright owner of the songs, otherwise they will be liable for infringement under the Copyright Act. With NYE already knocking on the doors, hotel and restaurant owners in the city are scrambling to seal deals with various DJs to attract revellers on December 31. However, fears of flop festivities loom large.

Representational Pic

Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) is the copyright owner of 271 music labels under Section 18, which clarifies that copyright owners may in future assign copyright to any person if certain clauses are adhered to.

The PPL's repertoire consists of approximately seven lakh songs in Hindi, regional languages and in English. On learning that hotels commercially play songs of labels they own rights for without purchasing rights from them, the PPL deployed a team to visit hotels and ascertain the authenticity of such claims.

The petition
Apparently, PPL officials had urged the hotels to purchase rights for the songs before using them commercially, but most hotels refused to comply. Soon after, the PPL moved the high court in five states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, MP and Chhattisgarh, and filed a petition against 60 respondents (hotels and pubs).

The list of respondents from the state include big names such as Olive Bar and Kitchen Pvt Ltd, Pan India Paryatan Pvt Ltd, Pallazio Hotels and Leisure Limited, among others.

PPL speak
Speaking to mid-day, Shruti Shidhaye, senior manager legal at PPL, "The hotels had refused to buy the rights, so we moved court. The court has passed an ad-interim injunction restraining the defendant establishments from communicating the sound recording works of PPL to the public without licence from the plaintiff. Failure to abide by these rules would mean that strict action would be taken against these hotels."

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How PPL charges

For occasional galas, PPL procures the seating capa­city of establishments and gathers the number of ven­ues where their music wo­u­ld be played before is­s­uing rights for the songs. For daily use of their music, PPL grants licence on the basis of the size of the establish­ment where the songs would be played. Once the rights are procured, the establish­me­nts or event organisers can play a song as many times as they want.

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