Music to the ears

The wedding industry in Rajasthan heaved a sigh of relief when Jaipur Police released a circular stating that licences to avoid Copyright Act infringement will not be needed by hotels or wedding venues for playing music at events.

Nisha Verma

The statement from Jaipur Police has come in response to many local agencies asking for money from the organisers and venues to avoid the infringement of Copyright Act, 1957, claiming that playing songs of any artist/ media company would be considered as violation without their consent. Many facilities had to secure a licence in advance to avoid this harassment at the time of the event. The circular clearly states that under Section 52 (1) (ZA) of Copyright Act 1957, “The performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work or the communication to the public of such work or of sound recording in the course of any bona fide religious ceremony or an official ceremony held by government or local authority shall not amount to copyright infringement. Therefore, no license is required in furtherance of the same.”

Interpret the law correctly

The news came with a wave of appreciation for Rajasthan Police from across the industry, including hotels and wedding planners. MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India (HAI), said that they welcome the statement by Rajasthan Police. “We are in cognizance of some organisations who have been filing cases regarding the same and two-three cases are still in court. Whatever the final verdict may be, if Rajasthan Police has released such a statement, it would remove any confusions and issues in future. We have always maintained that playing music at social functions should not come under Copyright infringement, and the way it was interpreted by certain organisations, is not correct. We have always contested this case, and now this circular has come as a relief for all of us,” he claimed.

Welcome move

Jaison Chacko, Secretary General, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), said, “This is a welcome move by the Jaipur Police, which will help alleviate the hospitality industry’s pain to a large extent. Section 52(1) (ZA)  of the Copyright Act 1957 provides an exemption on payment of royalty or licence fees for any bonafide religious functions, including marriage processions and other social festivities associated with a marriage. Yet, certain Copyright licence agencies intimidate hotels and patrons to bully them into paying for licences. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this exemption in the law and unethical Copyright agencies are misusing this to extort money from businesses and patrons. Such incidents peak especially, during the wedding season. We thank the Jaipur Police for issuing the circular clarifying that no licence will be required for hotels or wedding venues in the State to play music during religious events, including weddings. FHRAI has been campaigning to create awareness about this law and has been reaching out to law enforcement agencies across the country to make them aware of the illegal activities of such agencies.”

Appeal for country-wide rule

Lauding the move, Rajeev Jain, Founder & MD, Rashi Entertainment, has said that this is a lawful thing that Jaipur Police has done. “Organisations like PPL and NOVEX were extracting money under this guise. It’s a law that the Police has now endorsed. It’s a great move by Jaipur Police, as they have done what nobody could do. Earlier, people didn’t have the understanding. Under Section 52, it is very clear that these licences are not required for using music in such events,” he said. “We appeal to the Home Minister to go into this issue and understand what it is. Wedding industry is a responsible industry and if lawfully there is any money, we will pay. However, in this case they were extracting money illegally. Jaipur Police’s move is appreciated and we appeal that the police should implement this in every city and in every state.”

 

 

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