Tamil Nadu

Karaoke app Smule barred from using Ilaiyaraaja songs

Melodies that linger Ilaiyaraaja Photo: R. Ragu  

In what could be a major disappointment to fans of music director Ilaiyaraaja, who have enjoyed singing along to his famous tunes over the years on the karaoke app Smule, all the songs of the maestro might go off from the platform for copyright infringement.

The app currently allows people to record themselves singing to a host of songs on their database and store them as video formats for a fee around ₹110 per month. While a few songs and features of the app are accessible free of cost, a bulk of the features are accessible to members who pay a monthly fee.

The app had become popular among music buffs who took to rendering their favourite hits.

E. Pradeep Kumar, Legal Adviser to Mr. Ilaiyaraaja, said that they had sent a mail to the owners of the app questioning how they could use them without taking permission.

“We do not in any way want to dampen the joy of the fans, but are merely asking them on what grounds they have used the maestro’s songs for commercial purpose. A person’s hard work, in this case Mr. Ilaiyaraaja’s compositions spanning over 35 years, deserves respect,” he said.

When asked about the numerous covers or versions of the music composers songs uploaded by his fans on platforms such as Youtube and shared across other social networking websites, Mr. Pradeep told The Hindu that they were okay with anything as long as the fans weren’t being charged for it.

“Questions arose about why Mr. Ilaiyaraaja has been constantly speaking about the issue of copyright infringement. This issue is not limited to him alone and he has the best interests at heart when he is questioning such platforms which are making money off other people’s work,” he added.

On Monday, while a few songs of the composer were visible on the app, many were inaccessible and were accompanied by a message that said recording by users had been disabled for licensing reasons.

The legal team of Mr. Ilaiyaraaja is awaiting an explanation from Smule’s team and will then decide on legal action.

Fans disappointed

S. Aparna, a student and a user of the app, said that she was disappointed with the move to take off the composers songs. “Most of us find it tough to find karaoke versions of the songs and didn’t have access to facilities to record our own covers,” the aspiring singer said.

Prasanna Venkatesan, a professor, said many of them had assumed that since the app was charging them a fee, they had access to the original content.

“I don’t think the composer is wrong in demanding a royalty for his compositions on the app,” he added.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 1:01:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/karaoke-app-barred-from-using-ilaiyaraaja-songs/article19754082.ece

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