Mr. Javed Akhtar has issued a legal notice (through his lawyers) to Armaan Malik, Amaal Malik and Super Cassettes Industries Private Limited alleging violation of his moral rights/ special rights in relation to the recreated version of the song ‘Ghar Se Nikalte Hi’. The original version of the song can be accessed here (“Original Version”) and the recreated version (“Recreated Version”) can be accessed here. A comparative chart of lyrics of both the songs can be viewed here.
The credits available on Youtube mention that :
Song – Ghar Se Nikalte Hi, Singer – Armaan Malik , Music Composed & Reprised By – Amaal Mallik, Lyrics – Kunaal Vermaa, Directed By – Charit Desai
*Song Adapted From The Original Song Ghar Se Nikalte Hi Composed By Rajesh Roshan, Sung By Udit Narayan & Penned By Javed Akhtar.
The sound recording rights of both songs are owned by T-Series.
The main grievance of Mr. Akhtar is that the Recreated Version relies heavily on the prominent “mukhda” of the Original Version which is used repeatedly, while the other lyrics of the song, comprising the intermediate portions of the Original Version have been replaced. According to him, such replacement of the original lyrics (while only retaining the prominent portion/ mukhda of the Original Version), associating such lyrics with a changed musical arrangement with its tempo increased two times over the original musical arrangement distorts, mutilates and grossly modifies the original lyrics which is prejudicial to his honour/ reputation and thus in violation of his special rights under Section 57 of the Copyright Act.
He has raised his grievance on the manner in which ‘Kunaal Vermaa’ has been identified as the sole author of the Recreated Version which he feels denies his statutory right to be identified as the author of the lyrics. Without the Mukhda he says there is no song per se.
Mr. Akhtar further alleges that the recreated version impacts his right to receive royalty under Section 18 and 19 of the Copyright Act in respect of utilization of the lyrics authored by him which is a prominent part of the Recreated Version as also the music composed by Rajesh Roshan, as they would not be identified as authors of the Recreated Version and thereby lose out on royalties. He alleges that this is a deliberate ploy on part of T-Series to avoid the statutory mandate granted in favour of authors and composers.
The notice further mentions that Apple Itunes Store only refers to Kunaal Vermaa as the lyricist and makes no mention of Javed Akhtar or Rajesh Roshan who are the authors of the Original Version.
As regards Armaan Malik, interestingly, the notice seems to have been addressed to him for merely making a public comment on the Youtube page in which he has not acknowledged the credits of the authors of the Original Version.:
“Here is presenting the music video of Ghar Se Nikalte Hi! Enjoy and share the love ♥️
Music Composed & Reprised by : Amaal Mallik
Lyrics By : Kunaal Vermaa
Directed by : Charit Desai
Armaan Malik’s only role in the song is that of a singer / performer. He has neither written the lyrics of the song nor composed it. It thus seems bizarre that the notice has been addressed to Armaan Malik for making a comment which any member of the public is entitled to do so. Further the requisitions claimed in the notice are against all addressees including Armaan Malik.
The notice finally calls upon the addressees to take down the Recreated Version and asks for a sum of INR 10 crores towards damages.
The legal issues involved in this case with respect to- moral rights qua recreated versions, whether a recreated version can amount to violation of moral rights of the author of the original work, issue of royalties to authors of underlying works of original version and some incidental issues on waiver of moral rights, would be covered in a subsequent post.
However, on a preliminary note, it would be a disturbing issue if recreated versions are considered per se as violation of moral rights of authors of original versions, especially if the alteration/rearrangement does not prejudice the honor and reputation of the author.
For those of you who have watched the show ‘Remix’ on Amazon Prime Video, would understand the repercussions which would be there if one were to interpret that every recreated version is a distortion/ mutilation of the original work and thereby violating the moral right of the author.
Image source: here