Playing music sans licence at New Year bash on copyright radar

Kolkata, Dec 29 (IANS) In what could be a dampener for partygoers this New Year’s Eve, the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), the owner of copyright on musical and literary works, has decided to issue legal notice to event organisers for evading mandatory licences for commercial use of music.

Courtesy the licence clause, live performances may be cancelled at the last minute.

“The exploitation of music by way of live performance and/or sound recording or by any other means within the restaurants/ bars/ hotels/ hospitals/ departmental stores/ malls and events amounts to public performance and/or communication of music to the public. It requires authorization/ public performance license from IPRS,” IPRS regional head (east) Avishek Basu said in a statement.

“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.

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

The IPRS grants the 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.

The IPRS 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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