Let the music play: Licence woes for New Year’s eve bashes sorted

Kolkata, Dec 31 (IANS) Forget your worries about ushering in the New Year sans music.

Better sense seems to have prevailed on organisers of New Year’s eve bashes as a chunk of leading pubs, lounges and live performance venues have applied for the mandatory licences for commercial use of music, said the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), the owner of copyright on musical and literary works.

The IPRS had issued legal notice to event organisers and venues in Kolkata (along with a few in Ranchi, Patna and Guwahati) for evading mandatory licences for commercial use of music. There were chances of last-minute cancellations.

“We had sent out legal notice to at least 20 such venues and organisers. Around 30 to 40 percent have applied for the required licence. Better sense seems to have prevailed,” IPRS regional head (east) Avishek Basu told IANS on Thursday.

“A year-end evening cannot be imagined without music. Yet, when it comes to paying for the commercial use of music, event organisers choose to evade licence fee,” he said. The tariff starts at Rs.21,000.

Playing music in public without obtaining licence from the IPRS is an offence under Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Since this is a cognizable, non-bailable offence, it could mean a penalty up to Rs.2 lakh or three years’ imprisonment or both, he said.

The Park Hotel’s Someplace Else, a popular pub in Park Street, the party hub of the eastern metropolis, has its permits in order.

“We have an annual license and that covers necessary permits for December 31 events,” Gautam Singh, associate director – bars at The Park Hotels, told IANS.

Similarly, organisers of the annual Rajasthan-themed fair ‘Aapno Gaaon’ are all set with appropriate license for the DJ night and other musical and dance attractions on Thursday.

“We have not compromised on anything. We have paid the necessary amount for the license,” Kamlesh Kejriwal, secretary of the organisers, Saltlake Lok Sanskriti, told IANS.

He hoped other event organisers would pay up as well.

“Why should a simple clause become a sour spot for party goers? They should not be deprived of music just because organisers try to evade the license fee,” he added.

However, IPRS regional head Basu said there were routine defaulters who simply do not care to cough up the fee.

“There is a section of organisers who are actually reluctant to apply. And we are going to take legal measures against them,” he added.

Recently, the Bombay High Court restrained a Mumbai restaurant/bar from performing/communicating musical works owned by the IPRS from December 25 to 31 without obtaining a licence.

In the same vein, the Delhi High Court recognised the IPRS’s rights as owner of works on December 23 in a copyright infringement filed by the society against the Great Indian Nautanki Company Pvt. Ltd. (GINC).

The GINC was directed to deposit Rs.15 lakh with the Registrar General of High Court to continue to play musical and literary works belonging to the repertoire of IPRS, informed Basu.

The IPRS grants public performance rights as the owner not only for Indian musical works but also for international music.

The society has reciprocal agreements with foreign copyright societies such as ASCAP (US), BMI (US), GEMA (Germany), PRS (Britain) etc.

It has a membership of over 3,500 musicians, publishers and lyricists in India.

It distributes 85 percent of the license fee collected as royalty to its members while the rest goes for running the society.

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