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(File photo: HT)
(File photo: HT)

Music labels slap copyright infringement notices on new TikTok alternatives

'Many content sharing mobile applications are taking advantage of TikTok’s ban in India and to gain immediate success are using popular music, most of which belongs to T- Series without our permission,' says an official

New Delhi: Four music labels have sent copyright infringement notices to various Indian short-video platforms, two sources familiar with the matter told Mint. According to the first source, India’s largest music label, T-Series, is amongst the music labels who have sent the notices. He couldn’t confirm who the other three were.

When contacted in this regard, Neeraj Kalyan, President, T-series, said, “Many content sharing mobile applications such as Roposo, Triller, Takatak (MX Player), Josh, Mitron, Snack Video etc are taking advantage of TikTok’s ban in India and to gain immediate success are using popular music, most of which belongs to T- Series without our permission." Snack Video is owned by Chinese Tencent-backed Kuaishou Technology.

Kalyan said apps like Roposo are “habitually infringing music content since their launch and are busy finding excuses to not respect the right of the music copyright owners". “In today’s time, we as a company have no choice but to serve legal notices and take legal action (civil and/or criminal) against these apps, which are blatantly infringing our copyright," he added.

The Indian platforms in question include Times Internet-owned Takatak, InMobi-owned Roposo, and viral platforms Chingari and Mitron, both of whom received seed funding recently, the sources said. Chingari founder Sumit Ghosh said the company doesn't comment on “legal speculations" but added that its business team is in “advanced stage talks" with T-Series and will be announcing a licensing deal with them very soon.

Mint has also written to the other short-video platforms mentioned here. This story will be updated to reflect the same when they respond.

Further, the second source said the short-video platforms have been asked to stop using music owned by the labels with immediate effect. Music is an integral part of short-video platforms like Roposo, Chingari and more, and not being able to provide creators with music could be a big detriment to user engagement.

According to industry experts, acquiring such licenses can take a long time and is a major hurdle for successful platforms. For instance, social media giant Facebook took over a year to add the music feature to its photo-sharing app Instagram in India. The company now has tie-ups with various music labels in the country, which allows it to provide music on its platforms.

In fact, Facebook launched the music videos feature last week, allowing users to stream such videos on its Watch platform. “Over the past year, we have been working with partners in the Indian music industry to build the foundation of a music video experience for our consumers," Manish Chopra, Director and Head of Partnerships at Facebook India had said at the launch.

Music licenses from social media have also become a cash cow for music labels, and a revenue stream that didn’t exist before such platforms came into being. Companies like Facebook, banned platform TikTok and other strike yearly deals. An industry insider from a large social media company said deals with music labels can amount to at least Rs. 20-30 crores per year.

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