Pune: Extortion, Cheating Case Registered Against Music Companies Agents For Demanding License Fee For Playing Songs In Ceremonies

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Mubarak Ansari

Koregaon Park, 1st October 2021: An FIR has been registered by Pune city police against Phonographic Performance Pvt Ltd and Novex Communications Pvt Ltd for extortion, cheating and conspiracy.

Their field officers allegedly used to make organisers of weddings at hotels pay hefty amounts after threatening various provisions under the Copyright Act for not obtaining a license (PPL) before playing songs of different companies. 

Based on a complaint from Venus Traders Stationery-owner Pramod Karamchandani (30), a resident of Modi Baug, Ganeshkhind road, Koregaon Park police station has booked directors, office-bearers, field officers of the two companies, who claim to be authorised agents of the music companies to issue performance licenses at various programs. They have been charged for offences under sections 384, 385, 420, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

According to Senior Police Inspector Rajendra Mohite, Karamchandani had booked a hall at Hotel Conrad at Bund Garden for a wedding ceremony in the family. The office-bearers of the two companies reached there demanded a no-objection certificate (NOC) and license for playing songs. They took Rs 89,600 from Karamchandani for the NOC and license. In another incident, they had taken Rs 47,400 from Rahul Manoj Shirodkar who had also organised a family function at Hotel Conrad.

The complainants told police that the NOC and license issued by the companies did not mention the wedding but stated that the amount was taken for the DJ party and the get-together.

Police officials said that people have been duped similarly at Hotel Blue Diamond, JW Marriott, etc on different dates during wedding functions. The companies are not authorised by government to collect license fees, police said.

According to Phonographic Performance Limited India, also known as PPL India, owns and/or controls the Public Performance rights of 400+ music labels, with more than 4.5 million international and domestic sound recordings. Under the Copyright Act 1957, every business entity or individual must receive permission from the copyright owners of the sound recording before any public performance takes place. PPL India enforces the rights of members by ensuring that businesses comply with the law and pay copyright holders for the music they consume.  

PPL’s Copyright Registration: Pursuant to the amendment to the Copyright Act, 1957 ( the Act) in 1994, PPL was registered as a Copyright Society from 1996 till May 2014. The Copyright Amendments in June 2012 required PPL to obtain re-registration as a copyright society under section 33 of the Act; which is currently pending before the government. Presently, therefore by virtue of Assignment Deeds and/or exclusive Licenses executed by its Music Member labels, PPL issues licenses under section 30 of the Act and such licenses are valid under copyright law as held by several High Courts across India.

“We are a non-profit organisation and the royalties we collect are given to the rightful owners of the music”, PPL India states on its website.