Rohail Hyatt responds to copyright infringement claims against 'Coke Studio 12'

BTS and video of the song ‘Saiyaan’ was removed from YouTube, Facebook after EMI Pakistan initiated a copyright...

Rafay Mahmood October 28, 2019
Rohail Hayat is the mastermind behind Coke Studio. PHOTO: RIZWANUL HAQ


Last Thursday, BTS video of Coke Studio 12 song Saiyaan was taken off YouTube, hours after being published on the streaming portal and Facebook, along with the BTS of Roshe and Billo from episode 2.

The very next day, Saiyyan that features Rachel Viccaji and Shuja Haider on the vocals was only uploaded on Facebook and not on YouTube. Unlike other songs of the episode which were available on both the portals.  The speculations of a possible copyright strike on the song were confirmed when The Express Tribune reached out to EMI Pakistan; the label that claims to own the copyrights of the Noor Jehan classic. As of today, the song has also been taken off Facebook and is not being aired either.

“We have claimed copyrights over Saiyyan which is an adaptation of our song and uses a sample from the original to add recall value to the new recording,” Zeeshan Chauhdry, COO EMI Pakistan told The Express Tribune on Friday.  “And since the song was infringing our copyrights, we requested YouTube to strike down the BTS of the song which is possibly why they [Coke Studio] did not upload the actual song on YouTube, to begin with."

Saiyaan is a Punjabi song, originally composed by Shuja Haider’s grandfather Wazir Hussain and performed in Coke Studio 12 by Haider and Viccaji. The producer of the show, Rohail Hyatt, confirmed that the song has not been uploaded on YouTube due to licensing issues.

“We will have to acquire the licensing for EMI songs to proceed further with their remaining songs on the season and for Saiyaan to be restored on all platforms,” Hyatt told The Express Tribune. “They have provided some documentation to claim their license over Jadon Holi Jaye the song they feel is being used in Saiyaan.”

While it has been confirmed by both parties that Coke Studio is in the process of acquiring licenses from EMI Pakistan, Hyatt is not sure if Saiyaan actually infringes anyone’s copyrights and would much rather prefer the issue to be settled in court.

"Shuja wanted to incorporate four words from his grandfather's Punjabi song, Mae Ta Mar Jaaniya, as a tribute to old love songs,” Hyatt explained. “If it was another song that EMI might have claimed rights to then I would have been happy to accept the claim through the proper channel. However, with Saiyaan, I'm not sure if it falls under copyright infringement. Perhaps matters like this should be decided by a court of law."

Chaudhry insisted such issues occur because there’s a lack of education and awareness regarding music business and licensing in Pakistan. “A new sound recording gives the rights of the recording to the new producer or the company, but the composition and the lyrics are the part which the original label claims publishing rights to,” he told The Express Tribune on Sunday night.

“Initially, Frequency Media (Company that produces Coke Studio under Rohail Hyatt) was unable to understand this part of the process which is why we couldn’t make any progress. But now we have covered significant ground in our negotiations with Coca Cola’s legal team.”


Hyatt, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the actual owners of the art form should be duly compensated and every legal step in the process fully covered. He, along with his company has worked with international organisations, and licensed music from around the world, and all the other parties have been very respectful and civil in their dealings.

"We have done licensing a number of times but never in such an intimidating fashion,” Hyatt said while referring to EMI Pakistan’s negotiations with Frequency Media. “We received so many claims from abroad that a certain part of your song sounds similar, but they don't threaten to strike or take down your song. They will show you proof of content-match and if we don't contest it, then YouTube pays them their share directly. It's a simple and respectful process that we have always followed."


As per the latest developments, EMI Pakistan needs to review and revert back to the ‘details’ shared by the Coca Cola company's legal team. If everything goes as planned then both the parties will principally agree on a few points of mutual interest soon, and Saiyaan along with the BTS video will be back online and on-air by Tuesday.

Coke Studio 12’s Siraki song from episode 1, Mahi Diyan Jhokan had also mysteriously disappeared from YouTube and restored a day later. However, sources confirmed that this particular issue took place due to an internal glitch on Coke Studio's end, and has nothing to do with  EMI Pakistan.

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