Is Fire Records the Rights Owner of Coke Studio?

September 14, 2009

On 9th of September, Mr. Fahd Khan, Associate Manager, Geo TV on a telephonic conversation claimed rights on some of the content that is being distributed freely on this site. Complying with them, I asked them to e-mail me the details along with the link, so, I may review and take actions. The email consisted of the links to “Rona Chor Diya by Zeb and Haniya (Cokestudio version)”. I responded back with details that they are trying to claim rights on Cokestudio content. I was replied back by Mr. Fahd that the content is protected under law and Fire Records are the right owners. Being unsure, I requested Mr. Fahd to look again in to the matter if removal is mandatory. I was responded back today, that yes, it has to be taken off. Complying with the record label, I took off the content and tried to look in to the matter myself. On looking in to it, I realized “Frequency Media” are the right owners of the content. I was confused and curious about the continuous warnings from the Fire Records. Why would Fire Records claim rights on the content which is property of “Frequency Media”?

On looking further in to it, I realized, when the song is released, two types of court documents are made. One is to protect the record label, while the other protects the song composer. Fire Records while signing up an artist makes the lump sum deals and buy the composition copyrights too. In an interview with Instep today, Dr Yezdani mentioned

all other artists with Fire Records have been paid upfront. We purchase their rights and in return, they are paid in lump sum. In some cases, we make the videos and pay the rest. In some cases, the artist makes the video himself. I say we own the content because by paying a lump sum, Fire becomes the outright owner.

In the case of Cokestudio, while Frequency Media was the right owner and producer, the composition rights instead of being with Zeb and Haniya, stays with Fire Records. Fire records (in legal terms) isn’t playing foul, but is it playing fair in ethical terms?

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