Getting into the waves of your favourite soundtrack is a mind-relaxing experience. Music unites everyone, repairs the broken soul, and keeps us alive no matter what the situation is. The enduring impact of music also encourages hotels and restaurants to use it to their advantage. Oftentimes, they arrange live performances of popular bands to ensure delightful experiences for their guests. But there is a legal restriction in this context as these venues cannot stream music unless they have a music performance license for live performance in place. That means the music performance license for live performance serves as a mandatory legal permit. Copyright Societies working under the aegis of GOI have the right to grant this permit. Let’s dive into the legal aspects of this license and explore the documentation required.
What is a Music License?
A Music License serves as a legal permit to stream or perform Copyrighted music at commercial venues like hotels and restaurants. In a nutshell, a Music License ensures legal fencing for a musical work. Let’s dive into the legal definition of the music mentioned under Section 2 (p) of the Copyright Act, 1957.
“Musical work is a work comprising music and entails any graphical notation of such work but does not cover any words or any action meant to be spoken, sung, or performed with music. Thus, a music license is secured when you are streaming or performing the music for commercial purposes in public”.
Note: Music performance license for live performance aims at protecting the rights of the original song creator or composers.
Different Types of Music Licenses
Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) grants the music license under six different heads, as shown below:
- Annual background license: It is mandatory for eateries, hotels, public entertainment venues, resorts, marriage homes, auditoriums, and so on seeking to organize a live performance.
- Radio Broadcast License: For streaming copyrighted music on air, i.e. Radio and Television
- Event License: An event license is mandatory for streaming soundtracks at an event like award ceremonies, fashion shows, product launches, corporate events, and so on.
- Music licenses for soundtracks used as the right tone by cellular companies.
- Music license for using copyrighted soundtrack in promotional videos or ads.
- Music license for playing or OTT, i.e. “Over The Top” platforms such as karaoke service on the web, music utilized for sound recording on a digital medium, interactive and non-interactive music streaming on the web, etc.
Which authority has the right to accord the Music License?
Copyright Society is entrusted with a responsibility to accord the music license. The institution grants this legal permit under Section 33 of the Copyright Act. Copyright Society protects the composer’s right by curbing activities that lead to the exploitation of their creation (musical work). In case of copyright breach, the society compels the defaulter to pay the royalties as a penalty for misusing the registered work.
Following are the institutions serving the role of the Copyright Society in the status quo:
1. Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)
Phonographic Performance Limited grants a music license for the pre-recorded soundtrack in the form of music cassettes, Compact Discs, Radio, Gramophone records and so on, which is streamed at the eating house.
2. Indian Performing Rights Society
The legal permits granted by the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) are mandatory for a live performance organized at a restaurant, concert, or store. In short, the society grants the music performance license for live performances only.
3. Indian Singer Rights Association
Indian Singer Rights Association (ISRA) serves a different role altogether. It aims at safeguarding the member’s creation, managing and controlling the illicit use of the creator’s work, collecting royalties as a penalty from defaulters, and dispensing the same among the members.
Prerequisites for Music License
Whether you want to secure a music performance license for live performance or a legal permit to stream music on air, it is vital to know the prerequisites to avert any legal complications. Here are some important parameters to consider before approaching society for a license.
- The audible range of music,
- The floor area to which the soundtrack is audible
- Detail of sitting arrangement within the restaurant (numbers of seats).
- List of areas where the organizer wants music to be heard.
- Detail music streaming devices such as DJ, radio, CDs,
Documents required to secure Music Performance License for Live Performance
Here is the listicle of documents required to secure a music performance license for a live performance
- License-seeker’s PAN and Aadhaar as an identification certificate.
- Address proof of the license-seekers such as Voter ID, DL, and utility bill.
- Premises registration certificate.
- List of copyrighted soundtrack license-seeker wishes to play at the premises.
Registration Procedure to secure Music Performance License for Live performances
Following is the registration procedure to get Music Performance License for Live Performances:
- Select the apt category for which you want the PPL approval.
- Head to the IPRS official portal, wherein you will find detailed information on the registration process. Here, select the license type after filing some mandatory information such as name, address, email ID, contact detail, etc.
- Wait till you receive the One Time password on your mobile. Use it to complete the verification formalities.
- After completing the registration detail, head to the payment gateway for fee submission. The online receipt for the same will be shared by the authority via email or SMS.
- Finally, a music license for live performance shall be granted by the authority in the prescribed format.
Fees charged by the Societies for granting the music license
The Music License pens down the norms around use, license validity, and royalty to be rendered to the creator/composer. Fees collected against the grant of a music license are aptly dispended among the creators or the copyright owners.
The Copyright society takes the following factors into account for estimating the license fee:
- The type of place where the license-seeker wants to stream the music.
- The timeframe for streaming the music within the proposed venue
- The number of soundtracks streamed at the premises
- The occupancy limit of premises where the license-seeker wishes to stream the music
- The type of business license-seeker engaged in.
However, where a music performance license for a live performance at the restaurant is secured from IPRS, the annual license fee has been capped at Rs 10,000 for metro cities and Rs 5000 for non-metra regions.
Various tariff schemes are accessible based on the type of events organized at the commercial premises; the minimum royalty fee for streaming music among audiences at stores is Rs 2500/5000 sq. ft. Meanwhile, for the music license secured from ISRA, the license fees or royalty would be computed at the cost of the least-priced alcoholic beverage on the menu card. However, the minimum annual fee has been capped at Rs 3,650.
Those who fail to furnish the license fees will be subjected to an interest of 18 percent per annum with a monetary penalty amounting to Rs 2 lakhs. Meanwhile, in case of non-payment, the defaulter will be subjected to an interest rate of 30 % p.a.
If you are a restaurant owner and wish to entertain guests with copyrighted music, you must obtain a music performance license for live performances without any second thought. Failure to secure this license can incur severe penalties, which may involve heavy monetary fines.