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Bombay High Court bans venues to play copyright music without PPL licence

In a series of orders issued against individual establishments in December 2022, the Bombay High Court has restrained the use of copyright-protected sound recordings of Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) without license by hundreds of popular commercial establishments like Hotels, Resorts, Lounges, Pubs, Clubs, Bars etc. such as Xeco Media LLP (Discover Resorts), Digi1 Electronics, The Bar Stock Exchange, Snow World Entertainment, Adyar Gate Hotels, Byke Hospitality, Siddhivinayak Hospitality, FML Hospitality, Sai Silks (Kalamandir), Ambuja Neotia Holdings, GRT Hotels and Resorts and their outlets across the country.

The recent court orders assume great significance, as the order applies to all usage of music including ones being played in public places on New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and any other events or in the background throughout the year.

The 80-year-old establishment PPL India is a music licensing company that control/ owns on ground performance rights of more than 350 music labels controlling over 4 million domestic and international sound recordings in several languages like Hindi, English, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Haryanvi, Bhojpuri, etc. It controls rights for on ground usage of recorded songs of some of the biggest record labels, such as Aditya Music, Ananda Audio, Divo, Diljit Dosanjh, Lahari Music, Saregama, Sony Music, Sonotek, T-Series, Times Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, and many more.

The commercial establishments are required to obtain two types of licenses, one for playing Copyrighted songs in background in the premises throughout the year and another for events like New Year, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Holi or corporate events etc. helping people to celebrate featured usage of music.

G.B Aayeer, MD & CEO of PPL India said that “The music copyrights are very expensive world over where the investments by music companies run into several billions and trillions to make and acquire music. The license fee that PPL seeks from the establishments who are using its music is very nominal and are based on rationalised / published tariffs. Even though in India, music plays an essential part on every occasion, many people have a mindset of not paying for its usage resulting in huge loss not only for the rightful owners, but also for the entire creative community. While PPL earnestly thanks all the establishments who have come forward and procured licenses in advance, it has no other alternative but to seek relief from courts against the adamant infringers.”

After hearing about the restraining orders issued by Bombay High Court against the few non-compliant users, many other establishments have voluntarily come forward and have obtained licenses from PPL.

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