Ilayaraja asserts his copyright over songs

The citizens of Tamil Nadu may have to go to sleep without listening to Ilayaraja’s songs at night after the maestro warned FM and television channels of legal action if they continued to play his songs without his consent.

The Madras High Court had given an injunction against four music labels – Agi Music, Echo Recording, Unisys and Giri Trading from monetising Ilayaraja’s musical works. “Only I hold the right to all my songs. The agreements that I signed back in the day were valid only for five years. Since they were not renewed and no royalties have been paid, all agreements stand void,” said composer Ilayaraja and added that the money he would get by selling the rights would be shared with the producer of the film, singers, and lyricists.

“Anyone wishing to obtain the rights of his songs may approach the producers’ council,” said Kalaipuli. S. Thanu, president, Tamil Film Producers’ Council.

The composer said the companies were granted the right to sell the music on the condition that they would pay royalties. “I cultivated the land and I agreed to give my produce to the seller for a fee. But that doesn’t mean the seller can stake a claim to the coconut tree that I planted,” he said.

While Ilayaraja holds the absolute copyrights for his songs, this move was sure to revive the debate on intellectual property rights as young composers were being coaxed into signing unreasonable agreements by big audio labels.  

The announcement by Ilayaraja has put FM and TV channels off guard as Ilayaraja songs dominate radio and television channels at night.

An executive responsible for content in a popular Tamil FM channel said the case was only against select companies and there was no need to consider the rights obtained from other music labels as null and void. “There are other big labels which have bought the absolute rights from Mr. Ilayaraja. Last year, the composer had sent a letter saying that payments must not be made to select companies. We have abided by it. Until we get some clarity on which of the songs that we are not supposed to play, we will continue to play his songs,” the executive said.

A senior executive from a leading Tamil channel said that they were yet to see what this would mean legally even as he insisted that they did not violate any copyright.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 9:43:10 pm |