Music firms take up the cudgels against TV channels over piracy

Right or royalty

Music firms take up the cudgels against TV channels over piracy

Copyright infringement becoming their second nature, and piracy easy pick at promotion, be it the film industry or TV channels, music industry people have been facing the “music” literally.

This, despite the fact that, Mumbai-based Indian Music Industry (IMI) singularly striving to ensure that the industry received its due by fighting against the rampant practice.

According to IMI, umbrella organisation of music industry, responsible for combating piracy in India, the industry faces losses of about Rs 2,000 crore annually due to copyright infringement.

And caught in the wanton web of piracy, like their counterparts elsewhere, are Kannada music companies, deprived of their rightful royalty for playing their songs across various media.

Despite the explosion in the music industry in the past decade, local music companies, however, have not reaped the benefits, thanks to piracy and mismanagement of digital rights of music, opine industry players.

However, determined to take on persistent offenders, is Lahari Recording Company’s Tulasiram Naidu, popularly known as Velu. According to Velu, both TV channels and FM radio stations are flagrantly violating the Intellectual Property Rights and using their songs with scant respect to original copyright owners.

According to Copyright Act, 1957, rights of songs rest with music companies. If anybody wishes to use them, permission must be taken from the music company that holds its rights. The permission is provided for a small sum of royalty.

“However there is no such ethical culture of seeking permission to use the songs, let alone paying royalty. It has been a free game at our cost,” rues Velu.

Film director Nagashekar had used the song — ‘Kaanada kadalige hambaliside mana’ — by noted poet G S Shivarudrappa and sung by C Ashwath, in his film ‘Mynaa’ claiming that he had permission from the poet and the singer. However, Velu, whose Lahiri had the rights to the song, sued the filmmaker and won a Rs 5-lakh royalty for the song. He has now filed two more suits against leading Kannada entertainment channel — ETV Kannada.

According to Velu, the recently concluded reality show Bigg Boss, hosted by actor Sudeep, used songs from ‘Prema Loka’, ‘Ramachari’ and ‘Rayaru Bandaru Mavana Manege’ without his permission. He has sued the producers of the show for Rs 3 crore. The court has given an injunction for further use of songs without permission on the channel.

He has also filed a separate suit against the channel for using songs that his company holds rights to for the past many years without permission. He said even in shows like ‘Ede Tumbi Haaduvenu’, hosted by S P Balasubramanyam, if any contestant sings a song, owned by Lahari, they were entitled to royalty according to law.

He said his legal counsels were in the process of collecting evidence of use of their songs in television programmes. He further added that the final claim of losses would be not less than Rs 25 crore. He termed the attitude of channels “day light robbery and lack of respect for their rights.” The next hearing of the case is on July 26.

Concurring, Bharath of Jhankar Audio, leading music company for 30 years now, said the industry was behind Velu and are waiting for the outcome of the case. He said they would also toe the line on all media channels for their rightful claim.

Velu, as Chairman of Karnataka Audio Video Association, said very shortly the association would evaluate all media channels and FM channels for infringement of copyright laws and sue them legally in courts for compensation.

He further said company like T Series had taken up similar campaign years ago and today their annual revenue out of royalties was close to Rs 500 crore.

“Our FM channels who use Hindi songs pay royalty for these companies. But they rob us – the local companies. The royalty rates that have been fixed for FM channels is phenomenally low at Rs 700 an hour. But even that they don’t pay,” he bemoaned.
“We are well within our legal rights to demand royalty for the music we have invested in. The channels act as if, the harvest doesn’t belong to the farmer who sowed the seeds. A culture of respecting copyright laws needs to be developed,” said Bharath.

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