Plagiarism of Pakistani Songs in Indian Music Industry: Copyright Perspectives

Plagiarism of Pakistani songs in Indian music industry and Pakistan's copyright law on infringement.
Plagiarism of Pakistani Songs in Indian Music Industry: Copyright Perspectives

How many times Indian producers stole Pakistani songs and what Pakistan’s copyright Law says about it:

Copyright refers to the legal right of the owner of intellectual property. In simpler terms, copyright is the right to copy. This means that the original creators of products and anyone they give authorization to are the only ones with the exclusive right to reproduce the work.

Copyright law gives creators of original material the exclusive right to further use and duplicate that material for a given amount of time. Once the copyright expires, the copyrighted item becomes public domain.

A product that is considered creative and that needed a lot of mental effort to make is considered intellectual property and has to be protected against unauthorized replication.

Copyright laws are integral to protecting the rights of artists. Even in the 21st century, some people rip off ideas and intellectual properties of other creators and form entire careers out of it

Creative Works Covered Under Copyright Laws:

\Copyright protection subsists in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

  • Literary Works;
  • Musical Works including any accompanying words;
  • Dramatic Works, including any accompanying music;
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural works;
  • Motion pictures and other audio-visual works; and
  • Sound recordings.

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

Copyright laws in Pakistan:

As per section 56 of the Copyright Ordinance, 1962, copyright will be considered to have been infringed in any of the following cases:

  • when any person, without the consent of the owner of the copyright or a license granted by the Registrar or in contravention of any of the provisions of the license, does anything that only the owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to do;
  • when any person permits their place to be used for the performance of the work in public where such performance constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the work; or
  • when any person:
    • sells or lets for hire by way of trade displays or offers for sale or hire;
    • distributes either for trade to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright;
    • by way of trade exhibits in public; or
    • imports into Pakistan any infringing copies of the work.


History Of Indian And Pakistani Music Industry:

Songs about broken hearts and lovers lost move across the borders of India and Pakistan and take the edge off the two nations' bitter history of three wars and a continuing nuclear standoff.

Because of the modern-day blend of Hindi and Urdu spoken in both countries, songs sung by Pakistani artists and listened to by millions of Indians and Pakistanis have connected the two countries in a way they have never been able to before. The younger Indian generation's love of Pakistani bands has done what politicians find difficult -- reduced tension between the two countries.

In Bollywood, India's most popular film industry, directors have started featuring popular Pakistani rock bands and artists in their film soundtracks. 

This type of collaboration between the countries is unprecedented. Tensions between India and Pakistan have existed since the Partition in 1947 when riots and massacres occurred throughout the subcontinent. The two countries are still at odds over Kashmir, a region both claim. What politicians have failed to do, a universal love for music has been able to accomplish. Granted, it took 60 years for countries to be able to accept and share their music and culture, but younger generations are more independent, and more disconnected from the horrors of the partition, so this acceptance and celebration of Pakistani artists is possible. 

The future of relations between Pakistan and India depends on the younger generations.

Although politically the countries are far from being friends, a conscious effort is being made for their people to connect on a cultural platform. The success of this effort shows the constructive relationship that Pakistan and India could have.

Plagiarized Songs:

Aside from featuring Pakistani songs in Indian films, both countries have seen their fair share of plagiarism and copyright infringement concerning the content of the neighboring country.

Indian cinema has plagiarized countless Pakistani songs, in light of the love expressed by their audience for the music across the border.

Following are some songs that were plagiarized by the Indian music industry:

1.     Disco Deewane In 2012

The Disco song from the super-hit Bollywood movie Student Of The Year (2012) was copied from Pakistani Pop singer Nazia Hassan’s song Disco Deewane (1981)

The song caused quite an uproar from Pakistani fans, while got mixed reviews worldwide. Some felt that it was an homage to the legendary Nazia Hussain, while others considered it a blatant infringement of copyright laws.

2.     Ahun Ahun From Love Aaj Kal In 2009:

 ‘Ahun Ahun’ from Love Aaj Kal (2009) was copied from Pakistani Folk Singer Shaukat Ali’s ‘Kadi Te Has Bol Ve’ made in 1984

3.     Munni Badnam Hui From Dabangg In 2010:

Munni Badnam Hui from Dabangg (2010) has been copied from Ladka Badnam Hua Haseena Tere Liye from a famous Pakistani film, Mr. Charlie, made in 1993, starring comedian Omar Sharif.

4.     Tu Cheez Bari Hy Mast From Mohra In 1994:

The chemistry between Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon set the screen on fire in this song from the 1994 blockbuster film Mohra. The Pakistani inspiration turned out to be the Sufi song Dam Mast Qalander Mast Mast, which had been set to music by several artists including Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Sabri brothers, Reshma and Madam Noor Jehan. Compare the tune in the Mohra remake to Nusrat Fateh Ali's rendition and you'll see the blatant plagiarism of music notes down to similar lyrics.

5.     Hum Bhool Gae Ry Har Baat From Souten Ki Beti In 1989:

Rekha crooned along to Lata Mangeshkar in this soulful melody from the 1989 film Souten ki Beti. The song, right down to the lyrics, was in reality lifted from a song from the Pakistani film Saheli released in 1960. Those who have watched the movie might also recognize the lyrics, if not the melody, of this song as well.

6.     Mera piya ghar aya in 1995

This 1995 film may not have been very memorable, but Madhuri's dance steps in Mera Piya Ghar Aaya O Raam Ji remained in the hearts of her fans for quite some time.

This would remind Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan fans of his qawwali Mera Piya Ghar Aya which was first heard two years prior.

7.     Bajre Da Sitta In 2021

‘Bajre Da Sitta’ by Rashmeet Kaur, Deep Kalsi, and Ikka (2021)was copied from the famous song ‘Bajre Da Sitta’ sung by Musarrat Nazir as a tribute to the farmers and cultivators of Pakistan in 1989.

8.     Agar Tum Mil Jao In Zeher In 2005

‘Agar Tum Mil Jao’ from Emran Hashmi’s 2005 movie- Zeher is a rip off of Tasawwur Khanum’s ‘Agar Tum Mil Jao Zamana Chod Denge Hum’ from the Pakistani film- Imandar, released in 1974.

9.     Tujhe Bhoolna To Chaha In 2021:

‘Tujhe Bhoolna Toh Chaha’ by Jubin Nautiyal and Rochak Kohli (2021) copied from Pakistani singer Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi’s ‘Tujhe Bhoolna Toh Chaha’ (2013)

10.   Dil Ghalti Kar Baitha Hy In 2021

‘Dil Galti Kar Baitha Hai’ by Jubin Nautiyal (2021) was blatantly copied from Bol Kaffara by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan released in 1989. It is pertinent to remember that Nusrat’s songs never go out of the music scene and are listened to all over the world, and the blatant plagiarism was once again, an unwelcome but expected act committed by the neighboring music industry.

Punishment Of Plagiarized Songs According To Pakistani Law:

According to the Copyright Ordinance of 1962, Songs are registered in the music category. Despite this, there is a lot of plagiarism in the music industry, mainly because people are unaware of global copyright laws.

Moreover, artists don't register their work. One of the main factors contributing to copyright theft's significant incidence in developing nations is the fact that the execution to present intellectual property laws is practically negligible.

To counter that, Copyright registration is not compulsory in Pakistan which implies even without a certificate, the content creator can raise a claim before the Intellectual Property Tribunal on infringement.

A certificate also does not disentitle another party from disputing the copyright certificate. Nonetheless, a copyright certificate remains the best legal basis upon which any licensing or assignment of the music can be done.

Any person who knowingly violates the infringement of the copyright in a work or any other right conferred by the Ordinance is subject to a fine of up to one hundred thousand rupees or imprisonment of upto 3 years or both, according to Section 66 of the Ordinance as amended by the Amendment Act. Indian producers will also be charged with the same punishment if charged by Pakistani courts.