Mysuru: The end-of-year parties are just hours away and revellers are waiting to set the dance floors on fire. However, they may not get to groove to some of the biggest hit songs of 2019 tonight due to copyright claims over the songs.
Due to this issue, many hotels in city have cancelled their New Year Eve parties today as they fear that they will be liable to face copyright infringement cases if they play such songs or will be forced to shell out huge money as “licence fees” to the company that owns the copyright over these songs.
A Mumbai-based satellite channel distribution company called ‘Novex Communications’ which claims to be the assignee to Zee Music and the authorised agent of Yash Raj Music has served notices on several hotels in Bengaluru barring them from playing music from hit films or the songs that they own. Another company, Phonographic Performance Limited has also initiated legal action against hotels, pubs and restaurants for playing copyrighted music in their portfolio. According to Novex Communications, hotels, clubs and even wedding parties have to obtain the Novex licence to play copyrighted songs.
The company has even moved the Bombay High Court for injunction against hotels that have refused to comply and the Court has ordered in the company’s favour.
Hotels, clubs and lounges can take a licence from Novex per event or for a year. Every place playing music for commercial purposes needs to take the licence. Not only Bollywood hits, even playing ghazals that belong to audio companies is not allowed, say company sources. Hotels are only allowed to play mellow music by a live band.
Speaking to Star of Mysore this morning, a General Manager of a reputed hotel, who wanted to be anonymous, said that they were forced to cancel today’s New Year Eve party at their hotel because of this issue over music. “Event management is an expensive affair and restrictions over music, liquor licence fee and the extra money demanded by the officials, DJ and live music charges have taken the sheen off the celebrations,” he said.
“These people who claim to be the copyright owners barge into party venues demanding money. They came to our hotel a few days back where a live music party was being hosted and they demanded Rs.1 lakh as the music licence fees. If they had issued a prior notice, we could have made alternative arrangements. But barging into a party venue and demanding money on-the-spot is uncalled for and this is harassment. They even threatened to sue us if Hindi songs are played,” he said.
No outside crowd
Many hotels are only organising New Year Eve parties for their in-house guests without inviting crowd from outside. “Paying all the fees and staging parties is a daunting task and if we do, we will end up overcharging our patrons. So we thought of cancelling the party,” said an Operations Manager of another star hotel in Mysuru.
Mahesh Ballal, who owns ‘Rock Salad’ Event Management Company and who has been in this business since the last 25 years, told SOM that the music copyright issue has hit the entertainment and hotel industry hard. “We cannot play movie songs and we are liable for legal action if we play. Forget New Year Eve parties, even birthday parties cannot play such songs,” he said.
Licence fee expensive than the party costs
This is the reason why many hotels are cancelling the parties and for people to prefer small private parties at their farmhouses. “Marriages cannot play such music. And many times, the copyright licence fee is more expensive than the money spent to organise the party. According to the copyright owning companies, loud and big mikes cannot be used to play Bollywood hits but playing the same music in a small speaker is allowed. This defies logic and is ridiculous,” Ballal said.
Many technology companies have music concerts on their campuses as stress-busters for their employees. “If a concert has to be organised, the event management company has to pay the copyright fees on behalf of the IT company first and then organise the event,” he said.