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Music License

Music a vital aspect of our lives, and it is no secret that it can enhance our mood considerably. Whether it is at a restaurant, hotel or any public place, music is a must-have to create an ambiance that is pleasurable. However, did you know that playing music in public places for commercial purposes without acquiring a music license is illegal under the Copyright Act 1957 in India? Yes, you read that right! In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of music licensing in India, its benefits, and the process of acquiring one for your business. So, if you are a business owner, musician, or music enthusiast, read on to learn more about music licensing in India.

I. Introduction

A. Definition of music licensing in India

Music licensing refers to the legal authorization for the usage of copyrighted music in return for a fee. It is a form of intellectual property right governed by the Copyrights Act, 1957. In India, obtaining a music license is essential for commercial use of music, such as in restaurants, hotels, theaters, and pubs. There are two primary organizations that provide music licensing services in India: IPRS (The Indian Performing Right Societies) LTD and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited). These organizations collect royalties from users who commercially use copyrighted music and distribute them among members. There are different categories of music licenses in India, such as those for public performances, streaming platforms, CRBT or ringtone use, commercial purposes, and live performances. Music licensing is crucial for artists to safeguard their intellectual property rights, generate income streams, and showcase their talent to the world. In short, music licensing plays a significant role in the music industry, protecting artists’ creations and sustaining their careers.

B. Purpose of music licensing

The purpose of music licensing in India is to protect the rights of authors and to ensure that they are compensated for the use of their work. Licensing agreements allow copyright owners to license certain rights under specific conditions, such as usage, territory, and duration, in return for royalties. These royalties are the salary and Provident Fund of authors and the assets they will bequeath to their heirs. By licensing their work, authors can benefit from every licensed exploitation, which will generate royalties for their lifetime and 60 years after death.
One of the premiere organizations for music licensing in India is the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS). IPRS provides administrative and legal expertise in licensing, collecting, matching, and distributing royalties gained from the global use of your work. Additionally, licensing your music for public performances, streaming, physical media, CRBT or Ringtone use, and commercial purposes can also provide benefits.

Having a music license in India is beneficial for authors, as it allows them to control the exploitation of their works and ensures that they are rewarded on an equitable basis. Obtaining a music license can also help to protect against copyright infringement and safeguard the author’s interests. By licensing their music, authors can guarantee that they will receive the money that is owed to them and retain control over their intellectual property, which is their single source of revenue. Overall, music licensing is an essential part of protecting the rights and interests of authors in India.

II. Obtaining a Music License in India

A. Two premiere organizations for music licensing in India

Two organizations that work solely for providing Music License in India are IPRS (The Indian Performing Right Societies) LTD and P (Phonographic Performance Limited). Both ensure the fair distribution of royalties to the rightful owners of the music. IPRS Limited collects royalties on copyrighted music from the users who use the music. All members of the IPRS give their full-fledged consent to clients, and the fee received from those clients is distributed among its members after deducting the administrative cost of the organization. The administrative and the policy work of the organization is controlled by the board of directors elected by the members in every general meeting. There is always an equal representation of music authors and composers in each region. PPL, on the other hand, is authorized to collect royalties for public performance, broadcast, and communication to the public in sound recordings. The organization grants licenses to users who require such licenses. PPL has introduced the portal PLUS through which one can quickly obtain a license for sound recordings to perform on a public/ online platform, thus streamlining the benefits to the owners of the “sound recording.”

B. Need for a music license

Having a music license in India is mandatory for any individual or business entity that wants to play music for commercial purposes in public places. The Copyright Act of 1957 clearly states that cafes, restaurants, hotels, pubs, and bars must obtain a music license to play music on their premises. This legal requirement is aimed at providing musicians and artists with fair compensation for their creative work. Moreover, obtaining a music license ensures that the playing of music is legal and avoids any legal action. The license is issued by two premier organizations in India: PPL and IPRS. It is also important to note that using copyrighted music without obtaining a music license can result in legal and financial consequences, such as civil injunction, damages claim, and reputational damages. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses and individuals to obtain a music license to comply with the law, support artists, and avoid any legal trouble.

C. IPRS Limited

IPRS Limited is one of the two premier organizations for music licensing in India. It is a non-profit making organization that represents the owners of music – the composers, lyricists, and publishers of music. IPRS has been authorized by the government of India to issue licenses permitting the usage of music within the country by any person. The society has a vast repertoire of musical works, and it grants licenses for the same to users for a fee. IPRS also helps music creators get paid for their work by collecting royalties from users of music for and on behalf of its members and distributing the royalty among them after deducting its administrative costs. The organization has tie-ups with several music streaming services, such as Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Prime Music, and Apple Music, among others. IPRS membership for music creators and publishers is open, and the organization conducts regular events and workshops to encourage and support the music industry in India.

Collecting royalties on copyrighted music

Once a music license has been acquired, it becomes necessary to ensure proper payment of royalties to the copyright owner. The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) is one such organization that collects royalties on behalf of its members who are primarily composers, authors, and publishers of musical and literary works associated with music. IPRS is registered by the Central Government under Chapter VII of the Copyright Act 1957 as a non-profit making body. As per the Copyright Act, 1957, every work licensed shall generate royalties for the lifetime of the authors plus 60 years after their death. Through licensing agreements, copyright owners license their exclusive and non-exclusive rights under various conditions, including usage, territory, duration, and other aspects, in return for royalties. Collecting royalties can be an immense task that involves monitoring public performances, streaming, physical mediums, CRBT, ringtone usage, commercial purpose, and live performances, among others. The role of IPRS or other similar organizations is to streamline this process and ensure that composers and authors receive equitable remuneration for their creative work.

D. Benefits of acquiring a music license in India

Ac a music license in India comes with numerous benefits for artists, business owners, and customers alike. Here are some key advantages:

– Legality: By obtaining a music license, a business can legally play copyrighted music on their premises without facing legal action. This shows professionalism and fosters a good reputation among patrons.

– Royalties: A music license lets artists earn royalties every time their music is played publicly. This incentivizes musicians to create more music and helps them earn a livelihood for their work.

– Flexibility: A music license covers a broad range of activities, from streaming and physical media to live performances and use in commercials. This enables businesses to be more creative in their use of music and enhances the customer experience.

– Variety: By acquiring a music license, businesses gain access to a diverse catalog of songs and genres. This keeps the ambiance fresh and appealing to a wide variety of customers.

Overall, a music license is an important investment for businesses and artists alike, providing legal protection, steady income, creative flexibility, and a diverse range of music choices.

III. Types of Music Licenses in India

A. Public Performances

Public License (PPL) is a legal requirement in India under the Copyright Act 1957. It is necessary to obtain this license for playing pre-recorded music in a public place, be it a commercial or non-commercial establishment or event, such as hotels, bars, cafes, gyms, restaurants, offices, shopping malls, college campuses for concerts, fetes, festivals, etc. The license must be obtained from the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), which is authorized by the government of India for granting licenses for playing recorded music on television, radio, telecom companies, and other organizations. It is also mandatory to obtain a separate license for playing background music at events. The concept of PPL emerged to prevent unauthorized playing of pre-recorded music in public places. The license can be obtained by submitting an application along with the prescribed fee to the appropriate regional office of PPL. Playing recorded music in public areas without a license amounts to an offense. Exceptions include playing songs in the public domain or written by the performer themselves.

B. Streaming/OTT/Physical Medium

Another for music licensing in India is streaming/OTT/physical medium. This category includes services like broadcasting of non-interactive music, internet interactive music broadcasting services, and karaoke services on the internet. It also covers the use of motion pictures on electronic digital media, downloading, rental, distribution, and sale on physical media, along with the utilization of sound recording on electronic digital medium through downloads and physical mediums. Obtaining a music license in this category is necessary for commercial purposes, and it includes sound or music in advertising videos, audio and promotional videos. The introduction of digital distribution has significantly impacted this category, and companies can now easily license the song online. Thanks to the portal PLUS introduced by PPL. One can obtain a license for sound recording to perform on public/online platforms. This has streamlined benefits to the owners of the sound recording and has accelerated revenue collection. As of 2021, the value of the music licensing industry in India is Rs. 665 crore.

C. CRBT or Ringtone use

CRBT or Ringtone use is another area where a music license is required in India. A CRBT or Ringtone is a personalized ringing tone that a mobile subscriber can choose instead of the standard ringing tone. Any entity that wishes to use music for CRBT or Ringtone purposes needs to obtain a music license, which includes the usage and term rights that determine how the song will be used. Obtaining a music license for CRBT or Ringtone use is especially important because it helps to avoid legal action against the entity. The categories defined under IPRS for CRBT or Ringtone use include the following:

1. Ringtone use for ringing or call back tone

A music license is not only required for physical venues but also for digital platforms. Streaming services, as well as karaoke services on the internet, require a music license. The music license industry is worth Rs. 665 Crore, and with the introduction of digital distribution, it has become much simpler for entities to obtain a music license. PPL has introduced the portal PLUS, making it easier to obtain licenses for sound recording and perform on a public or online platform, resulting in revenue proliferation for the owners of sound recordings.

D. Commercial Purpose

When comes to using music for commercial purposes, acquiring a music license is mandatory in India. Without it, establishments such as hotels, restaurants, advertising companies, and shopping malls cannot use pre-recorded music or sounds in their commercials or on their premises. Music licenses for commercial purposes are issued by Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS). A commercial license is required for any event, show, concert, or DJ party that involves the usage of someone else’s songs. It is also essential for live performances and events held in private or public places like theatres, banquets, and sports events. Music licenses for commercial purposes include public performances, streaming/OTT/physical medium, CRBT or ringtone use, and live performances. Obtaining a commercial music license ensures that artists receive royalties for their work and protects establishments from potential legal action. Therefore, it is crucial for small and large businesses alike to comply with copyright laws and obtain a music license for commercial use.

E. Live Performance and General License

To a live performance of a singer or a band, one needs to obtain a music license from the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS). The license permits the business entity to host the live performance and use copyrighted musical work. Any hotel, restaurant, pub, or club that wants to host a live concert must approach IPRS for the required license. IPRS provides a comprehensive solution to ensure compliance with copyright laws and protect the commercial interests of all stakeholders. Additionally, IPRS issues general licenses that allow the usage of copyrighted musical work for non-commercial purposes like for internal corporate events, education, or research. The general license is suitable for businesses that want to use music in background scores of corporate videos, presentations, or any other non-commercial purposes. With the right music license, businesses can legally use copyrighted musical work without infringing on the owner’s rights and protect themselves against any legal action.

V. Conclusion

A. Importance of music licensing in India

Music licensing is an essential aspect of the Indian music industry. The importance of music licensing in India lies in the fact that it ensures that the composers, songwriters and publishers, who create musical works, receive due compensation for the use of their work. It also ensures that businesses, like hotels, pubs, restaurants and bars, who play pre-recorded music on their premises, are compliant with the law and avoid any potential penalties. Acquiring a music license is necessary for any form of public or commercial use of copyrighted music. There are two premiere organizations, IPRS and PPL, which offer music licenses in India. Obtaining a music license can enable businesses to hold public performances, stream music, play CRBT or ringtones, and use music for commercial purposes. The benefits of music licensing include royalty collection on copyrighted music, legal protection against copyright violation, and the opportunity to legally use music for various purposes. Therefore, obtaining a music license is crucial for businesses involved in any form of musical activity in India.

B. Benefits of music licensing

Acquiring a music license in India can be highly beneficial for businesses and organizations. Here are some of the benefits that come with having a music license:

1. Avoid legal complications: Without a music license, using copyrighted music can lead to legal complications and hefty fines. A music license ensures that you have the legal right to use the music in your business or organization and can save you from facing legal issues.

2. Access to a wide range of music: With a music license, you can access a wide range of music to suit your business needs. This includes music from different genres and languages, making it easier to cater to a diverse audience.

3. Increased revenue: By acquiring a music license, you can increase revenue by using music in commercial settings, such as in advertisements and promotions. This is because a music license allows you to use the music for commercial purposes, enabling you to make more money.

4. Improved reputation: Using licensed music shows that your business or organization is committed to following legal regulations and is concerned about the rights of artists and creators. This can help improve your reputation and brand image.

5. Better customer experience: Good music can enhance customer experience, keeping them engaged and entertained. Licensed music can also help create a positive atmosphere and improve the overall customer experience in your establishment.

In summary, acquiring a music license not only helps you avoid legal complications but also provides access to a wide range of music, increases revenue, improves reputation, and enhances customer experience.

C. Summary of key points

In summary, music licensing in India is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to use copyrighted music, whether it be for public performances, streaming, or commercials. The government mandates that organizations and individuals obtain a license for playing pre-recorded music in public places, and failure to obtain one can result in non-bailable and cognizable offenses. The two most prominent organizations for music licensing in India are the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS). These organizations issue licenses to users of music and collect royalties for the authors, composers and publishers of music. The benefits of acquiring a music license in India include protection for those involved in creating the music, hassle-free government services at affordable prices, and the ability to legally use copyrighted music for various purposes. Overall, music licensing is crucial for the protection of creators’ rights and should be a top priority for anyone looking to use pre-recorded music in public.

VI. Documents required for Music License in India

To obtain a music license in India, there are several documents required that need to be submitted:

1. Proof of identity: A valid identity proof such as a PAN card, Aadhaar card, or passport is required.

2. Proof of address: A valid address proof such as a utility bill, rent agreement, voter ID, or bank statement is required.

3. Proof of ownership of the venue: A document proving ownership of the venue where the music will be played, such as a property registration document or a lease agreement.

4. Declaration form: 
A declaration form stating that the music being played is licensed and that the license holder will be liable for any legal issues arising from unlicensed music played at the venue.

5. Music playlist: A list of all the songs and music that will be played at the venue.

6. Payment receipt: Proof of payment for the music license fee.

VII. Advantages of Music License in India

Music license in India provides several advantages to the license holder, including:

1. Legal comfort: A music license holder can enjoy legal immunity against any legal action arising from unlicensed music played at the venue.

2. Royalties: A music license holder is entitled to payment of royalties for the music played at the venue.

3. Copyright protection: A music license holder can protect the copyright of the music played at the venue.

4. Professionalism: A music license holder can showcase their professionalism and credibility in the music industry.

VIII. Disadvantages of Music License in India

There are a few disadvantages of obtaining a music license in India, which include:

1. Cost: The cost of obtaining a music license in India can be high, especially for small businesses or venues.

2. Hassle: The process of obtaining a music license can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

3. Limited music library: The licensed music library may not include all the songs or genres that a particular venue wants to play.

IX. Process of getting Music License in India

The process of getting a music license in India involves the following steps:

1. Identify the type of music license required based on the nature of the venue and music played.

2. Contact the relevant music licensing body such as the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), or Novex Communication Private Limited.

3. Submit the required documents along with the music playlist.

4. Pay the license fee.

5. Wait for the license to be issued.

X. Frequently Asked Questions about Music License in India

1. What is a music license in India?
A music license in India is a legal document that permits the playing of copyrighted music at public venues.

2. Who needs a music license in India?
Any establishment that plays copyrighted music in public such as restaurants, bars, and clubs needs a music license in India.

3. How long does it take to get a music license in India?
The process of obtaining a music license in India can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the type of license and the licensing body.

4. What is the cost of a music license in India?
The cost of a music license in India varies depending on the type of license, the frequency of music played, and the licensing body.

5. What happens if I play unlicensed music in my venue?
Playing unlicensed music can lead to legal action against the establishment and the license holder. They can be fined or face other legal consequences.

6. Can I renew my music license in India?
Yes, music licenses in India can be renewed annually or as per the terms specified in the license agreement.