Nach Punjaban’s original singer Abrar ul Haq and the makers of ‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo’ – the latest Karan Johar film are locked in a battle over a licensing claim for the song.
Since the trailer dropped a day ago, Pakistani fans have been up in arms over the song being featured in the film, apparently with no copyright/licensing evidence or claim by the music label T-Series. Singer Abrar ul Haq was prompt in responding and claimed that he had not sold the rights of Nach Punjaban to anyone. However, T-Series responded that they have bought rights from Movie Box, who, apparently holds rights to the song now.
Twitter is still sorting out the mess with many claiming that Abrar might not be aware he had signed away his rights – case in point, Billo which was sung for Coke Studio and had to be removed later.
Meanwhile, others claim that regardless of selling rights to the song, the singer must be given due credit for his song creation. Moreover, many still believe that they could have left the original voice of the singer or asked him to sing the song himself.
The divide goes deeper as Pakistani singers and artists are not welcome to collaborate with India and vice versa in the present political scenario, yet, question fans, why would Indian filmmakers want to use their songs without giving due credit? It’s not only about a legal contract but much more. Emotions are running high. Moreover, since Nach Punjaban is such a dated number, why couldn’t Bollywood have simply come up with an original composition?
Stirring The Debate About Intellectual Property
It seems that with repeated claims to copyright where singers are not even aware of the actual rights they have signed away, it is but fair, that even though they might have sold the song, every time the song is reproduced at any time, and in any part of the world, any contract must include a clause that demands due credit to the singer?
Artistic creations, especially for a creative person do not stop with monetary remuneration. It is a work of love, involving many sleepless hours of toil and intense work, eventually, a product is made that the artist loves & holds dear with all his heart. To take that recognition away from him/her is perhaps, the ultimate injustice that one can do to anyone who creates with love.
Hopefully, the repeated claims of copying and copyright infringement can start conversations on intellectual property ownership which is often not given enough importance in our part of the world. Lack of any legal framework means that a lot depends on goodwill and mutual respect for the artist’s work. To quote a recent incident with Coke Studio (click here to read more about it), it would be supremely sublime if all artists learn to respect each other’s work above and beyond a legal contract. That is the tribute a fellow artist would expect from another before the big labels stepped in to ‘manage and own’ their labour of love.
The Copy & The Original
The move to a digital world has merely meant that though we as audiences have more access to an artist’s work, and the artist can also reach more people and of course, reap more financial gains from his work, he might also lose ownership or at least, not receive credit for it. Imagine, if a painter painted a picture and signed his/her name to it, would we not give him credit if we reproduced it in print? We would say: that’s Degas’ ballet dancers reproduced. The printmaker would sell the print and earn money through his sales, but the image would still be known as a Degas creation, right? The original would, of course, be priced more than the print. But the artist recognition would be present in both cases. – The original and the copy.
In the same way, songwriters and singers deserve credit for their work even if they have sold their product to music companies. The credit might not mean they get money for it but show me an artist who would want to sign away his name, to become invisible before his work as if he never created it, as if he never existed, and I’ll rest my case.
After all, it is only a fellow artist who can truly understand another, and the process they have been through. In this case, stand up Mr Karan Johar, and tell us if you heard your fellow artist from across the border, Abrar ul Haq. And would you grant him, graciously, (barring all legal contracts) the right to credit his work onscreen? From one artist to another!