Cab aggregator Ola is in trouble again, this time for using pirated music on Ola Play. A Bengaluru-based label company Lahari Recording Company has registered a complaint of copyright infringement against Ola’s parent company ANI Technologies. Founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati are also accused in the complaint, for streaming pirated music via its platform Ola Play.
A media report claims that in May 2017, Tulasiram Naidu, director of Lahari Recording Co, found that Ola was playing audios of popular Telugu movies such as Baahubali, Khaidi No.150, and Kannada movie Sundaranga Jaana, when he took an Ola ride from the airport to his home in Bengaluru.
He said, “They (people running Ola) are IIT boys and educated. They know what they are doing is illegal. I am surprised.” He also claimed his legal team lodged a complaint with the Bengaluru police for copyright violations. “Till date, nobody came to us for licensing the songs,” he further added.
An email sent to Ola awaited a response at the time of publication.
Ola launched the connected car platform for ride-sharing called ‘Ola Play’ in November 2016.
It partnered with Qualcomm, Mahindra and Mahindra, Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass, and Fynd to build an interactive experience for users. Ola Play brings advanced car controls, choice of personalised content, and a fully connected interactive experience for the user.
The complaint, filed on May 20, accuses ANI Technologies, of downloading and streaming songs from popular Telugu and Kannada movies, without owning the rights.
Responding to the complaint, the Police raided the cab aggregator office. The officials seized the equipment used to download and store songs locally and stream it on Ola Play.
Talking about the allegations, Ola’s legal counsel Luthra & Luthra said that the company conducted business legally and ethically. Further adding that the management “has been dragged into this issue with a mala fide intention.” “We are confident that our client will stand vindicated of these allegations. We have taken appropriate legal steps to protect our client’s interests and the matter is now before the courts.”
Following the development, both the founders have got an anticipatory bail from the courts. On the other hand, certain reports suggest that the police have accused them of absconding.
This isn’t the first time Ola has been in the limelight for piracy or copyright infringement. Earlier, the company was embroiled in an image copyright infringement case when a Bengaluru-based designer’s creatives were used by it. Later, the issue was resolved and the designer was adequately compensated by the company.
The news playing pirated music and copyright infringement comes just a few days after it was reported that Ola raised about $50 Mn funding from hedge fund Tekne Capital Management, as an extension of its ongoing round. The recent funding from Tekne Capital takes Ola’s total capital raised to date to about $2.4 Bn in 11 rounds.
(The development was reported by Business Standard)