ola, ola play

The trouble for homegrown cab aggregator Ola continues, and this time it is for playing pirated music. The Bengaluru Police have reportedly filed a case of copyright infringement against cab-hailing giant Ola and its founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, for allegedly playing pirated music in the company’s cabs.

In the complaint, Lahari Recording Company accused the founder duo and the company of illegally downloading and streaming audio tracks of popular Telugu and Kannada movies.

As per the report, in May 2017, Tulasiram Naidu, director of Lahari Recording Co, found that Ola was playing popular Telugu movie audio clips such as those from Baahubali, Khaidi No.150, and Kannada movie Sundaranga Jaana, when he took an Ola ride from the airport to his home in Bengaluru.

Following the complaint, the police searched Ola’s offices in Bengaluru and have reportedly seized hard disks and devices used to download and store the songs locally and stream them on Ola Play, the company’s in-car entertainment platform.

Both founders of the company — Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati have secured anticipatory bail following the police action. On the other hand, certain reports suggest that the police have accused them of absconding.

Ola’s legal counsel Luthra and Luthra said that the company conducted business legally and ethically. The firm further said:

[Ola] 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.

The company had launched Ola Play in November last year. It uses custom user preferences and ride information, such as time and destination, to offer recommendations. It tied up with Qualcomm for this service and offers music and video-streaming from Apple Music, Sony LIV, and Audio Compass.

This isn’t the first time that the Bengaluru-based startup has been accused of piracy or copyright infringement. Earlier, the company got into image copyright infringement case when a Bengaluru-based designer’s creatives were used by it. The issue was resolved and the designer was compensated.

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