Woh Humsafar Tha, but should they pay royalties?

EMI Pakistan issues copyright infringement notice to Hum TV for Humsafar soundtrack.

Rafay Mahmood July 16, 2012


While Woh Humsafar Tha, winner of Best Original Soundtrack and Song of The Year at the Lux Style Awards 2012, had its share of celebrations, it seems the festivities will be short-lived. EMI Pakistan has sent a copyrights infringement notice to Hum TV, (the channel that aired the widely popular Humsafar) regarding the sound track which was composed by Waqar Ali and sung by Quratulain Baloch and received very high ratings (TRPs).

EMI shared documents with The Express Tribune which state that the song Woh Humsafar Tha was originally composed and sung by legendary singer Abida Parveen for her album Latest Ghazals by Abida Parveen, which was released in 1985.

“We sent them a notice about a week ago to get the official license of using this sound track from EMI Pakistan. But so far, they have not got back to us,” Zeeshan Chaudhry, General Manager Marketing, Sales and Strategy at EMI told The Express Tribune. “We’ll send a follow up letter on Wednesday and if we still don’t hear from them, the matter will go into the hands of our legal team.”

Chaudhry spoke about the issue in light of the larger issue of music piracy, saying that people in Pakistan have an unclear and naïve understanding of what it really is. He said that while is it believed locally that creating illegal copies of CDs is piracy, the definition engulfs more. “People are unaware that revamping an already made song in the name of a tribute is a blatant violation of intellectual property rights because neither the label nor the artist gets anything out of it (royalties),” he said.

However, Chaudhry also makes clear that EMI does not intend to bring a decline in the Pakistani music industry, which is the prime reason for why the record company is not putting a high licencing fee on Indian labels that license songs in Pakistan. In the case of Woh Humsafar Tha, the wrongdoer in the eyes of EMI is an independent production house, which EMI says should take this practice seriously. “We appreciate Hum TV for valuing our content, but at the same time, it is copyrights infringement because they reproduced the song without getting an official licence and fulfilling the necessary legal formalities”.

While Abida Parveen refused to comment on the matter, EMI promised that she would be paid her due share once the other party acquires the licence to her song.

“EMI is known for its credibility and regular return of royalties, Abida Parveen will get whatever the signed agreement says about her share in the revenue,” Chaudhry added.

Despite repeated attempts, The Express Tribune was unable to reach Momina Duraid, CEO of Momina Duraid Productions and producer of TV show Humsafar. However, the Public Relations department at Hum TV denied receiving any such copyrights infringement notifications.

“We have not received any legal notifications from anyone up till now,” the general manager of the Public Relations department, Shanaz Ramzi told The Express Tribune on behalf of Momina Duraid Productions. “If the matter goes into legal hands because of the lyrics, then we have written permission from the poet, Nasir Turabi himself.”

“Apart from that, the melody is totally different from its previous version and Waqar Ali has exclusively produced this song for the drama Woh Humsafar Tha,” she added.

When asked why it took so long for them to deliver this notice to Hum TV, EMI said that they were involved in a series of other copyright infringement issues, and the process took some time.

If EMI’s claim is valid, the case of Woh Humsafar Tha will surely be amongst the most mindboggling cases of copyrights violations in the history of Pakistani entertainment. Not only did the song become a household melody, it also played a pivotal role in the popularity of the drama Woh Humsafar Tha. Quratulain Baloch, who has one Coke Studio song to her credit, made it big with this soundtrack and gained great popularity.

However, if EMI’s claim is unfounded, it will lose credibility as a record label company and will come across as one that survives on its own legacy of music – an organisation making desperate attempts to catch someone, somehow.

Disclaimer: The Express Tribune is a sister concern of Express Entertainment, a competitive entertainment channel.

Correction: The story previously misspelled 'Woh' as 'Who'. A correction has been made.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.


Pakistani | 9 years ago | Reply

The track has been played so many times that I'm sick of it, really. But EMI's claim is absurd and unfounded. If you remix someone else's song, it is your creativity that goes into it and the original artist doesn't deserve anything.

EMI is confusing remixes with covers, and as such Abida Perveen, her greatness notwithstanding, doesn't deserve plaudits for the remixed version especially if HUM TV got permission from the poet for the reproduction. It's HUM TV, Waqar Ali and QB's intellectual property now.

Saad Durrani | 9 years ago | Reply

@toobahatif: There are a lot of background things are going on when something is 'remixed'. The case of Woh Humsafar Tha is a bit different. It is a rework of the song with a different setup and a different vocalist. Basically, it was a 'cover'. Again, my point here is where is the money for the poor poet?

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