EMI Pakistan serves legal notice to LSAs

09 December 2015 - The Express Tribune news-open-img


This year’s Lux Style Awards (LSAs) seems to have been on a streak of bad luck. From celebrities having a go at the organisers for what they contended was a skewed nomination process to a few nominees even withdrawing themselves, the award show generated a storm of controversy. And the dust is far from settling even a month after the show took place. The latest thunderbolt to have struck the LSAs is a legal notice served by record label EMI Pakistan to organisers of the award show on account of copyright infringement for performing Bhar Do Jholi and Tajdar-e-Haram at the award ceremony.


Zeeshan Chaudhry, general manager of EMI Pakistan, told The Express Tribune that they decided to take legal action over the LSAs using the qawwalis without their consent. He acknowledged that the record label was approached by the organisers initially, adding that they had been offered Rs200,000 in exchange for permission to use the songs. They refused to accept the amount on the grounds that it was insufficient.




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Despite their disapproval, he claimed, the organisers went ahead with performing the songs on the show. “Unfortunately, this is the corporate mindset in the country where the indemnification process is done by third parties and the only time executives look into the matter is when it starts to deteriorate,” he lamented.


He added that EMI Pakistan had sent copies of the legal notice to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority, Intellectual Property Organisation and television channels. They requested them to not air the show until the issue gets resolved, stating that failure to comply may result in legal action. As per the legal notice, EMI has asked the LSAs to “pay a licensing fee of Rs1.6 million per song along with 100 per cent penalty for illegal use.”


Amjad Sabri, who performed both the tracks in question at the LSAs, doesn’t hold the rights to them, despite them being his father’s intellectual property, Chaudhry noted. “Amjad Sabri can only claim royalties to Bhar Do Jholi and Tajdar-e-Haram and for that too, he needs to present a succession certificate from the court,” he argued. “Even then, he needs to take permission from EMI before performing the qawwali.”


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When approached for comment, the PR representative of Unilever said, “To the best of our knowledge, we haven’t received a legal notice,” and so was unwilling to comment on the matter. It’s likely that the issue may linger on just like the copyright feud involving Bajrangi Bhaijaan and EMI Pakistan, which surfaced when the movie used the qawwali Bhar Do Jholi without obtaining rights to the track. This eventually culminated in an EMI-Sabri standoff, with both parties claiming ownership of the song. EMI Pakistan had earlier attempted to block the qawwali from the Salman Khan-film after Adnan Sami Khan’s rendition was featured in it.


Chaudhry claimed this isn’t the first time the LSAs have used a song registered with EMI without their permission. “Previously, Atif Aslam performed Lambi Judaai as a tribute to Reshma and Ali Zafar sang a rendition of Mehdi Hasan sahab’s [Mujhe Tum Nazar Se], both of which are registered with us,” he stated.