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Over the past weekend, Indian filmmaker Karan Johar unveiled the trailer for his upcoming film Jugg Jugg Jeeyo. Just before the two-minute mark, audiences were greeted with a tune that is familiar, particularly to Pakistanis. A chorus of male voices sings the hook from Abrar Ul Haq’s 2002 hit song Nach Punjaban.

Within a few hours, the singer took to his Twitter to call out Johar. Haq stated that he had not sold the song to “any Indian movie” and reserved the right to claim damages through legal channels. He tagged both Johar and his production house, Dharma productions.


Not much later, the plot thickened further. Some five hours after Haq’s tweet, Moviebox Record Label released a statement. They claimed that T-Series had legally licensed the song for use in Jugg Jugg Jeeyo.


Moviebox is a UK-based record label that claims to own the largest “UK Bhangra” catalogue in the world. T-Series added to their statement a day later, stating that they acquired rights from MovieBox who own its copyright.

Haq responded to this yesterday. In a Tweet, he stated that Nach Punjaban has not been licensed to anyone and challenged the record label to produce a legal agreement to prove their claim.

Nach Punjaban has been uploaded to MovieBox’s official YouTube channel. A film cover of it can also be found on the Lollywood Classics YouTube channel, which is also run by MovieBox.

This is not the first time that MovieBox has claimed ownership of a song from Haq’s catalogue. In 2019, the record label claimed copyright infringement against Coke Studio for Haq’s rendition of Billo De Ghar. The song had to be removed from Coke Studio’s YouTube channel and was not uploaded again.

However, this is not the first time that MovieBox finds itself in the midst of a copyright conflict. In 2020, artist Akram Rahi uploaded a video on Facebook. He claimed that the label had illegally uploaded his work on their YouTube channel. He stated that the channel had earned money on his work and had not paid him a penny. Rahi claimed that he would be taking legal action against the label. It remains unclear whether and how the issue has been resolved.

The issue of copyright laws is a recurring one for Pakistani musicians. It is not unusual for songs to be covered. Musicians find their songs being reproduced on several scales, from indie musicians uploading covers on their social media, to large-scale film productions using them in soundtracks. This is not where the problem stems from.

What irks musicians is that they are not given financial compensation when their songs are used in commercial productions. More often than not, this is because the artist is not legally owed any compensation. Pakistani musicians have repeatedly made the mistake of signing away their catalogues for inadequate compensation. Sometimes they don’t bother to read the fine print, often they don’t have enough understanding of intellectual property law. Other times they simply put immediate financial gain over longterm compensation. Whatever the case may be, they end up signing over the their art to third parties without ensure adequate royalties for themselves.

It still remains to be seen who is in the right here. MovieBox has not yet publicly released any legal agreements that prove their ownership over Nach Punjaban. Whether or not Haq will get due compensation in this case will become clearer as the situation unfolds.

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