Ola founders booked for playing ’pirated’ music in cabs
L to R: Ankit Bhati and Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founders, Ola | Photo Credit: olacabs.com

The Bangalore Police have reportedly registered a case of copyright infringement against taxi-hailing firm Ola and its founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati for allegedly playing pirated music in the company's cabs.

In the complaint, filed by Bangalore-based Lahari Recording Company, the duo has been accused of illegally downloading and streaming audio tracks of popular Telugu and Kannada movies, a Business Standard report said.

Following the complaint, the police searched Ola’s offices in Bangalore and 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, the report added.

Both Aggarwal and Bhati have secured anticipatory bail following the police action, it said citing a person aware of the development.

The music company decided to file a complaint after its owner Tulasiram Naidu, on one of his rides, noticed that Ola Play was playing songs from Telugu movies such as Baahubali, Khaidi No.150 and Kannada movie Sundaranga Jaana, for which Lahari owned the rights. Naidu, known as Lahari Velu in film circles, was informed by his legal department that Ola was playing them illegally. Lahari's legal team then filed a complaint against Ola citing copyright violation, the report said.

Ola’s legal counsel Luthra & Luthra said the cab company's management “had been dragged into this issue with a mala fide intention.”

“We have taken appropriate legal steps to protect our client's interests and the matter is now before the courts," the report quoted Luthra & Luthra as saying.

An email query sent by VCCircle to Ola seeking comment and more information on the matter did not elicit an immediate response.

Ola had launched Ola Play in November last year. The in-car entertainment system uses custom user preferences and ride information, such as time and destination, to offer recommendations. It also lets customers tweak the air-conditioning. Ola has tied up with Qualcomm for this service and offers music and video-streaming from Apple Music, Sony LIV, and Audio Compass.

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