FHRAI & EEMA to Organize Nationwide Campaign to Sensitize Stakeholders on the Act

New Delhi, Oct 14: India's apex Hospitality Association - Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) and Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) have jointly planned to organize a nationwide campaign to sensitize industry stakeholders including the Police as well as general public about hotels or wedding venues not requiring to obtain license for playing any sound recording for marriage and related social or religious functions held at the venues.

The campaign is being organized as a result of a recent incidence where two Mumbai-based private firms extorted Rs1.37 lakh from businessmen under the pretext of issuing them copyright licences for staging musical performances at marriage ceremonies in a star hotel at Koregaon Park in Pune. An FIR of extortion and cheating has been registered against the firms.

FHRAI has cited the notification dated 27th August, 2019 issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, notifying that all religious and marriage related functions shall be exempted from payment of copyright charges. Such functions would include all religious functions, marriage functions, engagements and receptions. The Association has also stated that section 52 of Copyright Act 1957 provides an exemption on payment of royalty or license fees for all the religious functions including marriage procession and other social festivities associated with marriage.

“We have been receiving several complaints from members about certain copyright agencies using strong arm tactics including criminal trespass into wedding events to extort money from guests of the hotels. Since the wedding season begins this month, such incidences might become more rampant. We want to ensure that everyone in the events and hospitality industry as well as other stakeholders be made aware that the law exempts from obtaining licence for playing any sound recording for marriage events and related social functions held at hotels or other venues. A Public Notice to this effect has been issued by the Government in 2019. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this exemption in the law and the so-called copyright agencies are misusing this to extort money from businesses. FHRAI and EEMA will soon organise a nationwide campaign through its regional and local Associations to propagate this information to as many hotels, restaurant establishments as well as to all the events management companies as possible. We will also reach out to the law enforcement agencies including the Police across all the States in the country to make them aware of the illegal activities of these agencies,” says Mr Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI.

FHRAI has stated certain private agencies have criminal antecedents and operate just like bank recovery agents and indulge in nefarious activities, including threatening calls to hotel managers, trespassing in wedding events and taking under cover photos or video clips of events, sending threatening legal notices with claims running into lakhs of rupees to the hotel owners, as well as the guests failing which they threaten to file FIR and cases against the hotel and the guests. The Association has also stated that such agencies tend to make unauthorised entry at private venues to secretly record events. They send threatening legal notices to hotel owners and their guests, who hire banquet halls for their wedding events to extort money from them. Such acts have been held as criminal trespass.

“We have been constantly hearing these concerns from our community members. Certain agencies have been creating unethical issues during wedding and related events. There are a lot of people who do not understand these irregularities and while booking at these 5-Star hotels, turn victims and end up paying unjustified amount for these licenses. They harass families that are under immense wedding pressure and try to extort money at the eleventh hour under the name of such licences. EEMA along with FHRAI empathizes with them and opposes this illegal action conducted by them across the country. Weddings and weddings related functions are exempted under the Section 52 (1) (za) of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957,” concludes Mr Roshan Abbas, President, EEMA.