Zee TV and music industry professionals lock horns over rights
For once music is making news. Recently Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) secured an “ex-parte and interim injunction” from the Delhi High Court restraining Zee TV from featuring published music in its programmes, shows and serials without obtaining prior license from IPRS and PPL. IPRS and PPL are non-profit making companies authorised under section 33 of the Copyright Act 1957 to operate as the copyright society for musical and literary works and sound recordings respectively. IPRS has some 1500 members who are composers, lyricists and song publishers, while PPL has some 140 music companies as its members. The order has put a question mark on the telecast of Zee TV’s popular show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007.
Says Savio D’Souza, Secretary General, Indian Music Industry (IMI), which works in tandem with IPRS and PPL, “The bodies provide a single window clearance to the radio stations and television channels that want to use musical content in Hindi or any regional language. It’s unbecoming on the part of Zee to run a programme which is completely based on the musical content without taking the licence.”
Counters Ashish Kaul, Executive Vice President, Zee Entertainment Private Limited, “The order is ex-parte. It is returnable till October 10. We have filed a counter appeal and are not taking the show off air.” Ashish feels the issue is complex. “When we buy the rights of a film to be shown on Zee Cinema, the songs come with it. So there is no need to buy the rights of those songs again. Similarly, we have bought rights for musical content played on Zee Muzic. When we sign the deal it is with Zee Network, so we can use the songs on any of our channels. Then there are films like Gadar that we have produced. Also, we have a deal with T-Series which allows us to play its songs. So our lawyers are going to ask which songs they are talking about.”
Similar shows run on Star and Sony, but Savio surmises they have the licence. Ashish agrees the two organisations were in contact with Zee. “But they were asking for an astronomical sum. I believe it’s a publicity gimmick.” Savio says there is a government approved rate card and different plans to suit the channel needs. “If they want to play a song once, there is a different rate, and for multiple use there is a blanket licence.” Copyright issues in India have seldom reached a conclusion, and this one also seems to be heading towards a controversy that ends with a compromise.