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Music legend Ilaiyaraaja sends legal notice to SP Balasubrahmanyam for singing his songs at concerts

The composer claimed that SPB and two other singers on tour with him had performed his work without permission and violated the copyright law.

Singer SP Balasubrahmanyam on Saturday said legendary composer Ilaiyaraaja had sent him a legal notice for singing his compositions while on tour in the United States. His son SPB Charan and another singer, KS Chithra, along with organisers of his concert in various cities and the managements of the venues were also issued notices by an attorney on behalf of Ilayaraja, he added in a Facebook post.

The notices said they are not allowed to sing Ilaiyaraaja’s songs without his permission. “If we do, it is breaking the copyright law, and we have to pay huge financial penalties and face legal action,” he said, adding that he was unaware of the legalities.

The singer further said that Ilaiyaraaja had not sent them any such notice earlier when they performed his compositions during their “SPB50” world tour, which began in August 2016. “I don’t know why [he sent the notices] now when we started our US tour...If it is a law, so be it and I will obey it,” he said, adding that they had performed in Russia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Dubai and a number of locations in India as well.

Assuring fans that he will continue to perform other composers’ songs at his concerts, Balasubrahmanyam appealed to them to “face the situation with grace” and not form “harsh opinions” against Ilayaraaja over the matter. “I could have certainly talked to him had he contacted me or sent a mail before our tour...My intention of this information was to prepare the audience. I do not want my good friend Shri Raaja to be inconvenienced,” the Tamil singer said.

The two have collaborated a number of times and delivered numerous hit songs over the past five decades, such as Mouna Raagam, Thalapathy and Thevar Magan. But according to recent reports, Balasubrahmanyam and Ilayaraaja have been on the odds for a while now.

Ilaiyaraaja’s lawyer said Ilaiyaraaja’s music has often been performed at concerts, “and he has never stopped anyone from playing his songs.” “All he had asked was to get prior permission from him. How is it right to sing someone’s else album in a stage show?”

Meanwhile, the musician’s spokesperson said, “Why don’t you ask SPB why Ilaiyarajaa chose this time to send him a legal notice? It is he who put it out on Facebook.”

In March 2015, the composer had taken five audio companies to court for making and selling his compositions without his permission and got an interim injunction against them for copyright violation.

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