Television

Zee Music proposes legal action against copyright infringement

MUMBAI: Zee Music is proposing to initiate legal action against those TV channels that air full songs, especially from Hindi films whose telecast rights have been bought by Zee Network.

This is part of Zee Music's plans to give and showcase exclusive content, which, it feels, can give a fillip to its viewership base. The channel has admitted that it's facing distribution problems.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com, Zee Music and Zee Cinema business head Bharat Ranga said, "We are proposing to take legal action against copyright infringement by other TV channels relating to those film songs whose rights lie with us."

Ranga, however, added, "As the (music) industry is small, we would not like to indulge in such acts involving other TV channels. But, if need be, we would ensure that the channel's (Zee Music) musical properties are protected."

The stridency in Zee Music's stance is the result of thoughtful acquisitions of some hot Bollywood properties by Zee Network. These include Munnabhai MBBS (very hummable music and songs), Pinjar, Rudraaksh and one of Feroz Khan's hit productions, Qurbani, which had some great songs.

Some other films acquired by Zee Network, which gives Zee Music exclusive rights to air full film songs in most cases (unlike other music channels who would be airing promotional short duration clips) include Rituparno Ghosh's just-released Raincoat, Aitraaz, Chalbaaz, Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Sath Sath Hai, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and most Manmohan Desai directed Amitabh Bachchan films.

"The Network's film acquisition has landed Zee Music song rights of as much as 60 per cent of the total Hindi film music available, which has made us think that such exclusive content should be exploited more forcefully," Ranga explained the reason behind the proposal on copyright infringement.

But Zee's reported move hasn't upset other music channels much, it seems. Rival music channels counter that buying a movie's telecast rights need not necessarily mean indefinite rights to film songs also.

Contacted by indiantelevision.com, MTV India director, programming and TAR, Ashish Patil, shot back, "Being a multi-national media company, we are very careful on the copyrights issue. Globally, we have very stringent rules that we follow as zealously in India too."

Pointing out that MTV would not air anything for which it doesn't have the legal rights, Patil added that, anyway, the music channel "gets" exclusive telecast rights of 50-60 per cent of all original Indian music software developed, which rules out possibilities of copyright infringement" as pointed out by Zee Music, some rare exceptions notwithstanding.

"Since January 2004, MTV has received 434 song clips for exclusive airing, some of which are for a particular period of time. "In short, if producers of music, filmi or otherwise, want to reach out to people, they should come to MTV," Patil countered.

According to Star India senior vice-president, marketing and publicity, Ajay Vidyasagar, "We at Star, work with the film and music industry to protect copyright of any intellectual property. We do license music for our music channel. We will continue to be on the right side of the law."

Star-owned Channel [V]'s programming line-up also does contain a sizable percentage of Hindi film music and Indipop.One of the reasons why Zee Music is threatening legal actions for copyright infringement is also because of its limited reach, which can be neutralised up to an extent through publicised exclusive content.

According to TAM data, Zee Music had an average 13 per cent reach in November in C&S 4+ Hindi-speaking markets. MTV's reach is much high at 24.23 per cent, followed by Channel [V] and ETC Music (20 per cent each).

Amidst all these posturing, what is the legal position? The legal framework says, as long as one pays, one can broadcast the music software, but the rates have to be negotiated with the other industry stakeholders.

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