Almost a decade after veteran playback singer K J Yesudas kicked up a controversy for allegedly demanding royalty from artistes and organisers of music concerts for singing his songs, music maestro Ilayaraja warned radio stations and television channels of legal action for playing his songs without his consent.
Ilayaraja, who composed over 4,500 songs since 1970 in various languages, said his songs cannot be downloaded or sold through CDs or any other format without his knowledge. “So nobody should use my songs without my consent.”
Only I hold the rights on my songs. The agreements that I signed earlier will stand for only five years. Unless they have renewed the agreements, they stand void,” he said.
He added that the royalty amount from his songs would be shared with the producer, singers, and lyricists of the film. The High Court had given an injunction against four music companies from using Ilayaraja’s musical works commercially.
The veteran music composer has revived the debate on copyrights at a time when a large number of music TV channels, FM stations and independent music bands popularise his “evergreen songs” from the past four decades.
Sources close to his office said the High Court has given specific injunction against four music labels — Agi Music, Unisys, Giri Trading and Echo Recording — from using his songs for their profits.
A producer of a popular Tamil music channel said they will not be affected as they are paying royalty for the songs they use in various shows. “In fact, the management often responds to all composers including Ilayaraja whenever there is a demand to stop the subscription to certain music labels. As long as our practices are not against his concerns, we need not to stop playing his songs,” he said, adding that there may not be many songs left for their popular shows if they have to delete the playlist of Ilayaraja.
In a similar incident in 2004, popular Tamil and Malayalam placyback singer Unni Menon lashed out at Vinod Yesudas, son of Yesudas, after he allegedly demanded royalty for Yesudas’s songs he sung at a music concert in Chennai.