In a significant development, the Union government has taken a major step to address a longstanding concern raised by the hospitality industry. They have issued a directive that allows the playing of Bollywood music at wedding ceremonies and related festivities without the risk of facing copyright infringement action. This decision brings great relief to event planners, hotels, and individuals organizing celebrations who have often found themselves entangled in unnecessary legal disputes and financial burdens due to demands for license fees by copyright firms.
DPIIT clarified matter through public notice
Although the Copyright Act of 1957 already permitted the playing of copyrighted music at such functions, copyright societies continued to insist on royalties for the songs, leading to conflicts and complexities for those involved. Responding to numerous complaints from the public and stakeholders, the department of promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) has now clarified the matter through a public notice on July 24.
Section 52 (1) (za) of the Copyright Act provides an exemption that allows the playing or communication of literary, dramatic, or musical works during genuine religious or official ceremonies organized by the central/state government or any local authority, without infringing copyright. This exemption encompasses marriage processions and social festivities associated with weddings, as they are considered religious ceremonies under this clause. In response to this provision, the DPIIT has explicitly instructed copyright societies to refrain from taking any actions that would contravene section 52 (1) (za) to avoid facing legal consequences. The general public has also been cautioned against complying with any unwarranted demands from individuals, organizations, or copyright societies that go against this section.
Hospitality industry warmly welcomes directive
A ToI report states that the hospitality industry has warmly welcomed this directive. Amit Sharma, president of the Poona Hoteliers Association and GM of Amanora The Fern, expressed satisfaction with the government's clear stance. He emphasized that obtaining permissions from copyright societies is no longer necessary for playing music during weddings and related festivities, which brings significant relief to both the industry and the general public.
Sharma further noted that certain association members had faced unjust defamatory lawsuits in cities like Kolkata and Guwahati. The hope now is that the government's decision will put an end to such harassments, allowing people to enjoy weddings and festivities without any hindrances. With this directive in effect, wedding ceremonies across the country can continue to be enriched with the vibrant spirit of Bollywood music, fosteringjoy and celebration without the fear of copyright-related disputes.