Ringtone piracy on the rise, says Indian Music Industry
By Lalitha Suhasini
THE next time you download your favourite Bollywood ringtone from a website,
chew on these numbers. Approximately Rs 200 crore is generated by ringtone
downloads in India annually, and at least 3 lakh ringtones are downloaded here
every day, says the Indian Music Industry (IMI).
And there’s an even bigger market catering to NRIs who want their mobiles to
buzz to the notes of the latest masala number.
Gone are the days when a Bappi Lahiri sues a Dr Dre for copyright infringement
when he uses a sample from the Indian composer’s ditty. Now even a website owner
can get sued for peddling ringtones, because the copyright belongs to the music
Which is why Eros Multi Media Pvt Ltd can no longer provide ringtones from
Chocolate and Waqt on a website called www.bollywoodmobiles.com.
The company has been injuncted by the Delhi High Court against copyright
infringement of T-Series rights. The website exclusively provides downloads
including ringtones and images to customers in the US and UK.
While the injunction momentarily puts a stop to the alleged illegal sale of
these ringtones, there’s the danger of Internet piracy lurking on the Web. ‘‘The
Eros Multi Media case is more of manipulation of rights, but ringtone piracy in
itself has shot up,’’ says Vipul Pradhan, chief executive officer, IMI.
‘‘We have an Internet piracy cell that monitors illegal websites selling full
tracks and ringtones and also conducts raids at retail outlets,’’ says Pradhan.
Some local mobile handset retailers turn into pirates when they sell mobiles
that are sold with a preloaded chip with ringtones, MP3s and images. If you send
out a ringtone via Bluetooth or Infrared, you could be contributing to ringtone
The IMI has closed down 600 such websites operating out of India. It now plans
to set up a central server this month that will map every download via a mobile
The music composer fraternity is singing another tune. ‘‘Ringtone downloads are
absolutely welcome since it reflects that the state of the music industry is
improving,’’ says Pritam, composer for films such as Chocolate and Dhoom. ‘‘But
it’s sad that the composers receive absolutely no royalty from the ringtone