Delhi High Court Directs Top Hotels to pay music license fees

New Delhi: In a landmark judgement, the Delhi High Court has directed 14 prominent hotels and restaurants to either pay the copyright license fee for the party they hosted on New Years eve, or face legal restraint from playing any music at all until the next hearing on January 17. The hotels include Intercontinental Grand, Park Royal, Vasant Continental, Turquoise Cottage, Geoffreys, Hotel Siddharth, Tivoli Garden, Opus Lounge and more.

The injunction order passed by the court states, "Accordingly, the defendants … are restrained till the next date of hearing from playing any sound recording in which the plaintiff or its members have copyrights without paying the requisite license fee to the plaintiff within a week of service, which shall be paid and accepted without prejudice to the pleas that may have been raised by the parties."

The order, handed down today by Justice R. C Chopra, in response to a petition filed by Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), the copyright society registered under the Copyright Act.

Earlier, on December 31, 2003, the Bombay High court directed seven major hotels in Mumbai, to pay license fee for playing music to PPL, or face restraint from playing music at all. Similarly on February 14, 2003 a similar injunction was granted by the Bangalore High Court.

PPL, representing 60 music companies, had highlighted that playing commercial music without paying a copyright license fee is an illegal act, liable for action under contempt of court. Yet, most hotels, restaurants and pubs play music without paying the requisite license fee thus eating into the earnings of the music companies who make significant investments in promoting music.

The court injunction serves a respite to the ailing music industry, in the wake of the ever-increasing levels of piracy eating into the roots of the music companies. With losses topping Rs600 crore each year for the music companies and sale of pirated CD's clocking a record 1 billion this year, the Delhi High Court's decision has been welcomed by the music industry.