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Saregama CEO Apurv Nagpal: We Want Piracy Sites To Go Legit By Paying A License Fee

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“It’s a huge step forward, but it won’t count for anything if you don’t manage enforcement,” Apurv Nagpal, CEO of Saregama, one of India’s largest music labels told MediaNama after the Indian Music Industry, a consortium of 142 music companies, of which Saregama is a part, obtained court orders to force 387 Indian ISPs to block access to 104 music sites which are allegedly streaming or allowing downloads of pirated music. Excerpts of our interview with Nagpal:

MediaNama: Why did you (the IMI) go through ISPs? Why not get injunctions against the sites themselves?

Apurv Nagpal: Taking the sites to court is not humanly feasible: when we went after one site, we got the impression that the owner was in the US, based out of the Bahamas, and it was very difficult to get him to respond. Our person has to pose as an advertiser before the owner came on an email, and we eventually found that it was a young kid in Rajkot, and the entire process took six months. Going after 104 sites – can you imagine the effort, the time and the money spent in chasing this? The better route is to establish comprehensively that each ofthese 104 sites is pirating content, and we’re doing that – as a body and not a company – and it’s easier to interact with the ISP now.

MediaNama: But what will you do about torrents?

Apurv Nagpal: If the site is blocked, it is the cleanest way. We’ll get there. In the press conference there was a question on filesharing. This is a huge win and you cant imagine the amount of documentation and per label, per file per site. it’s an unprecented first of its time order in the world. The IMI has been contacted by publisher bodies across the world.


MediaNama: Has this been necessitated by revenue decline on mobile? Have Caller Ringback Tone (CRBT) revenues declined after the TRAI clamped down on false billing for CRBT?

Apurv Nagpal: CRBT has had a slight decline in the second half of last year. Where it is now is pretty much the bottom, but companies like ours were never doing anything illegal on CRBT. We are relatively secure versus the other content proviers. This has nothing to do with the CRBT thing, and when I spoke with you about ISPs, it was before the TRAI guidelines. Having songs available free online is leading to the wrong consumer behavior. The impact is seen in physical sales, and you can go to stores in Lajpat Rai Market and they’ll give you 2 GB of music for Rs 50. Their library is from pirated sites. The impact will be felt in other businesses. There are enough legal sites available. The idea is not to starve the consumers of content.

MediaNama: But they can always resurface under a new domain name, like Songs.pk has done. Why not hit them where it hurts by going after the Ad Networks?

Apurv Nagpal: Whether it is ad networks now or talking to illegal sites – most sites are those with a passion for music. We don’t want these sites to be shut down, we want them to pay a license fee and flourish as a business. There are legitimate businesses in operation too. The scope is there, and we want these sites to be legal.

MediaNama: Why did you get a court order when you could have probably have just filed for a block under the IT Rules?

Apurv Nagpal: The IT Rules also allow it. There have been various attempts and various conversations. It’s a great way forward, and it’s a ray of sunchine for the industry. The ISPs are taking us a lot more seriosuly now that we have a court order.

Reading List

Apurv Nagpal Interview – September 2011

“Difficult Chasing People On The Net” – Saregama MD Apurv Nagpal On Mobile, ISP Liability, Torrents
“Every Deal Is Different” – Apurv Nagpal, MD Saregama India On MGs, FM, Compulsory Licensing & More

IMI Music Block
– Indian Music Industry Gets Court Orders For Blocking 104 Music Sites
– List of 104 Music Sites That The Indian Music Industry Wants Blocked
– Songs.Pk Relaunched As Songspk.pk; Ad Networks?
– Songs.pk Banned By Calcutta High Court: Report

Reliance Entertainment & John Doe orders
– Reliance Entertainment Gets Order To Block Piracy Of “Bodyguard” On File Sharing Sites
– Files Sharing Sites Blocked In India Because Reliance BIG Pictures Got A Court Order

T-Series Cases

– Carrot & Stick: T-Series Gets Radiomaska.com MD Arrested; Takedown Notices To Dishant.com
– Guruji Shuts Music Search
– YouTube & Music Label T-Series Reach Out Of Court Settlement
– Execs Of Sequoia Funded Guruji.com Arrested Over Alleged Copyright Violation In India
T-Series Argues IT Act Doesn’t Prevent Courts From Terminating Copyright Infringement

Also read
– Hyderabad Police Arrests Torrent Uploaders

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  • Guide

    Awesome Apurva !! Congratulations on your effort. I really like your attitude which is much different than Chalu T-series folks who only think of earning money by suing websites. 

  • guest

    gr8 work …… make strategy for p2p also

  • Shakeel

    Nikhil , next time when you meet Apurva can you ask these 3 questions – ?

    Question 1 

    What is the difference for the royalty rates for two entrepreneurs where one entrepreneur wants to launch and start legitimately, legally by acquiring an online streaming license from Saregama and slowly but steadily build a user base of unique visitors per month and for the second entrepreneur who already launched the online music portal illegally for past 1-2 years and now already have a substantial user base, unique monthly visitors in the order 1.5 millions per month ? SAREGAMA will not get royalty with arrears of 1-2 years from the second entrepreneur and by all counts will earn more royalties from the second entrepreneur. First entrepreneur aint interesting to SAREGAMA since the traffic for him is hardly 100-200 thousand users per month. How Saregama would articulate royalties for these two realistic situations. if my predictions about the 2nd entrepreneur then every entrepreneur should start illegally and then acquire license like Raaga,Phulki, Dishant and many others.     

    Question 2

    Would SAREGAMA frustrates the first entrepreneur by offering him/her only territorial license to begin with ? for example, only for US, only for india ? 

    Question 3
    Would SAREGAMA allow entrepreneur 2 to continue to stream legally based on the selective and higher traffic coming from high  traffic regions ? For example Savvn has 1.3 million users across India, Indonesia, the Phillippines, Turkey and  the U.S. 

    All the three questions point to entrepreneur 2 to start illegally and win legally, ironically leaving entrepreneur 1  to loose all the hopes who aspires to try, to innovate   

    • Sharad Ganpathi

      Shakeel you raised some pertinent yet extremely sensitive questions. Generally no one wants to talk about such issues but your questions are very realistic. I guess entrepreneur 1 will eventually turn to becoming type of entrepreneur 2 since frustrations prevails strongly for the sincere. Phulki and Raaga did it very quietly but they have won in big ways. We will wait for the response from Mr. Nagpal of SAREGAMA who is advocating to turn illegal pirates to legal deals. He should clarify that he is indirectly promoting entrepreneur to launch illegally ?  If not then starting of legally must be heavily discounted by SAREGAMA as against the cases where people start streaming without obtaining streaming license from SAREGAMA.  

  • Jagan

    Good effort!

  • Pramod

    I read Apurv’s comment in his last interview published on medianama saying that royalties can range from 50 to 70 % of the sales. This is bullshit. He should better start comparing apples with apples and be reasonable. CPM rates of advertising in India are much much lower compared to those in Japan and US. He should refer to FICCI’s published book for the year 2012 to verify the CPM rates in India and abroad and then dare to talk about royalty rates. Guess this is the reason pandora and spotify are considering India. where market is ripe only for FM radio stations than internet radios and royalties are just 2 % of the total sales. Turning online internet radio/music profitable is only possible aggregator portals such as in.com. Period.