Delhi hotels charged with violating music copyright

February 2005

Record Labels

The Delhi High Court has restrained 14 hotels and pubs in Delhi from playing music for which Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) holds the copyright. PPL is the collection society formed by more than 100 audio firms including the global majors Universal, Warners, EMI Virgin and Sony BMG. The dispute revolves around whether or not special licences are needed from PPL. PPL issues two types of licences – the annual licence required for playing background music, and secondly the event licence which is needed for special events such as fashion shows, film awards, Christmas or New Year celebrations. The controversy is over how an ‘event’ is defined. The fee for a single event can sometimes be almost equal to the cost of an annual licence for the hotel and the hotels claim that many events where PPL are asking for special licences are nothing more than normal nights in a restaurant or room. The cost of event licences are based on factors such as the type of event, number of guests and duration: the Federation of Hotels and Restaurant Association contend that the annual fee includes the fee for the event also. The matter will be heard in court on January 17.

In Australia, Eyre Peninsula hotels with dance floors or cover charges are facing huge fee increases to play recorded music. Local hoteliers have labelled the proposed hikes as “totally outrageous and unjustifiable” and fear they will have to stop playing music. The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) is proposing changes to the tariffs it charges for nightclubs and dance parties to play foreground music in bars. Clubs and dance parties currently pay seven cents per person per night for the playing of recorded music but under the current proposal the PPCA is looking at increasing that fee to $1 per person per night. The PPCA collects the fee on behalf of recorded music while the Australia Performing Rights Association collects a fee on behalf of songwriters. The Australian Hotels Association is fighting the new fee structure in the copyright tribunal in Sydney.

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