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Music License

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  • Gramophone Records
  • Music cassettes
  • CDs
  • Radio
  • TV
  • Audio-visual etc.
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Music License

We often plan for dinner and outings with friends and family for a fun evening. Apart from a break from the monotonous routine, it gives us a chance to unwind and relax in a good ambiance. What contributes to a perfect ambiance is music. As it is rightly said music is the food for soul. Music helps us unwind and is a great stress buster. What many of us are not aware of that every establishment or person willing to use any pre-recorded music for non-personal reasons is first required to acquire Music License.

What is Music License?

It is often assumed that purchasing a CD or DVD gives the owner an undisputed right to play it anywhere. However, in reality, this is not true. Music is an intellectual property and purchasing a CD only gives a right to enjoy it at leisure and in private audience. If anyone is willing to use it for public purpose either as background music or live performance then such person will be required to first apply for Music License.

As we have discussed that it is an intellectual property and subject to Copyright Act. As per the provisions of Copyright Act, 1957 to use any pre-recorded music for nonprivate purpose or to play in public places and establishments’ one is required to acquire permission in the form of Music License from Phonographic Performance Limited. Such pre-recorded music can be played in any of the following forms;

  • Gramophone Records
  • Music cassettes
  • CDs
  • Radio
  • TV
  • Audio-visual etc.

Note: License for Communication to public, Public Performance of music recordings is mandatory. All the licenses so applied and granted by PPL are conditional in nature and for a limited period of time. Here, conditional means that licenses are not universal and are valid for specific purpose it is issued for only. For example, if anyone holds a license for background music, then they cannot organize a live performance on the basis of that. For live performance, a separate license will be required.

What is the relevance of Music License?

Creating music asks for a lot of effort and creative talent. Starting from lyricist, producer, director, sound recorder, singer etc. everyone contributes to the process in a unique way which cannot be undermined in any way. Thus if anyone is willing to use such music in any non-private manner then with a view to protect intellectual property rights of such talented people requirement of Music License is prescribed. As it will be very unrealistic and cumbersome to get separate licenses from all such people thus a practical solution is implemented in the form of Music License.

This serves a twofold purpose;

Firstly, it makes the job of applicant easier as they are only required to apply for a single license and no separate permissions are required from different people.

Secondly, It helps the owners of such intellectual property to keep track of and be vigilant about their music.

Types of Music License

Radio License

  • Radio License is required to be applied before establishing any kind of radio stations including;
  • Private FM
  • Government-owned Radio Station
  • Community Radio Station

Public Performance (Background music) License

This license is required to play pre-recorded music as background music in public. With only this license one cannot organize any kind of show, event, concert dance shows etc. For such performances, a separate license is required.

Public Performance (Events) License

In case you are planning to organize a public event where music recordings will be played like promotion even, shows, DJ parties, fashion shows etc then you are first required to apply for Public Performance (Events) License for the same. Even shopping malls, restaurants, banquet halls who already have background music license are required to apply for it separately.

Public Performance (Storage) License

This license is required for temporary storage, embodiment or transfer of sound recordings. For example- DJs require thisPublic Performance (Storage) License for storing songs on their DJ system or for transmission or storage on computer servers by aggregators.

Who requires Music License?

Anyone who is planning to play or communicate pre-recorded music in either a public place or a commercial or non-commercial premises by anyways like TV, Cassette, records, radio, cable network etc. require Music License beforehand. This will also include any kind of public performance, shows, concerts etc.

Following is a non-exhaustive list of establishments which require Music License;

  • Restaurant
  • Amusement Parks
  • Airport Terminals
  • Hotels
  • Banquet Halls
  • Salons
  • Theaters
  • Events
  • Reception areas
  • DJs
  • Magic Shows
  • Railway station
  • movie theater
  • Sports stadiums etc.

What is PPL?

The Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) was set up by the Indian Phonographic Industry (IPI) in the year 1941. IPI is an association of phonogram producers whose main objective is to oversee the broadcasting license agreements in India. PPL is the specialized body which was formed with that objective of administering the Broadcasting rights and public performances.

Phonographic Performance Ltd. has more than 250 music labels as members.

All the member music labels small and large are associated with PPL and it is the responsibility of PPL to protect their Intellectual Property rights. With these objectives, it controls public performance rights and if anyone is involved in unauthorized use of pre-recorded music without a license then it will constitute as an infringement of intellectual property under the Copyright Act of 1957. This infringement will constitute a non-bailable offense and will attract high penalties

How to get the license

One can submit an application along with the applicable fees in the prescribed format for public performance of pre-recorded music along with the prescribed fee with PPL or IPRs as the case may be.

For any kind of radio broadcasting license, the applicant is required to contact and submit the application in head office of PPL located in Mumbai.

For any other kind of license including background music license, Event license etc. the applicant is required to submit an application in the nearest liaison or facilitation office. List of liaison/facilitation is provided on the official website of PPL.

The amount of application fee depends upon

  • The nature of license and
  • The identity of the applicant

In certain cases like gym, casino, waiting rooms, hotels, lodges etc. the fees are to be paid as a fixed amount on annual basis. However, in certain cases the number of fees will depend upon total area(for example spa), fee charged (for example salon, hairdressers) or seating capacity (for example pub, bars etc)etc. The list of prescribed application fee is available on the official website.

Penalty Provisions

As we have discussed it is mandatory apply for music license before using a pre-recorded music for any kind of non-private purpose. If anyone is involved in any kind of radio broadcasting or public performance of any copyrighted music without a valid music license to support such activity is punishable under Copyright Act, 1957. Such an act is considered as an infringement of intellectual property rights. Such an offense is Cognizable & Non-bailable in nature and attracts severe punishment.

Such offense is punishable under Copyright Act, 1957. Following are the punishments;

  • It can attract penalties under Section 63 which can extend up to Rs. 2 lakhs.
  • In severe cases, it can also lead to imprisonment under Section 51 of the Act which can extend up to 3 years.
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