Increased copyright prices of vintage Bollywood songs burning a hole in movie budgets


After an aggressive copyright enforcement drive by the music label Saregama India Ltd(here and here), reports suggest that the record company has also upped the costs of purchasing copyright of its songs. Contemporary filmmakers frequently use Bollywood classic songs to lend a vintage charm to their movies. Recently, some Bollywood filmmakers were in for a rude shock after they learnt that payment for using a couple of lines from a yesteryear Bollywood song was 30 lakh rupees. Earlier, the figure for a song used to be around 6-7 lakh rupees.

Further, 95% of classic film songs are owned by Saregama, so it enjoys a monopoly in this respect. In most cases, filmmakers became aware of the hefty price only at the stage of inserting audio, after they had shot the movie. Some chose not to use the classics and instead composed new music altogether for that particular sequence, which is a lot less expensive compared to buying copyright for  classic songs. The owners of the label declined to disclose their reasons for drastically increasing the costs. 

Anubha Sinha

Anubha Sinha

Anubha Sinha - @anubhasinha_ on Twitter — is a graduate of Dr. RML National Law University, Lucknow, and presently works at the Centre for Internet and Society. She also blogs on

One comment.

  1. Avataranushree rauta

    Unfortunately the producer cannot avail the option of compulsory licensing or statutory licensing in the given circumstances. There should have been a provision in Section 31 (b) of the Copyright Act for compulsory licensing even in situations where the owner refuses to grant license at reasonable price.


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