China’s Music licensing revenues increase – but still low by international standards
Copyright , Music Publishing / April 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   According to the statistics released by the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), music industry licensing revenue amounted to RMB184 million (approx. £21 million) in 2016, an increase of 8.2% from last year. Digital licensing accounted for most of the growth and now represents 37% of the total. Revenues from broadcasting and public performances dipped. Music licensing revenues in China remain low by global standards. Draft amendments to the Chinese Copyright Law may help, with proposals for new statutory rights for sound recordings. In November 2016 the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) including a commitment that “China will urge copyright owners and broadcasters to timely perform their respective obligations in accordance with the Interim Measures for Payment of Remuneration by Radio and Television Stations for Broadcasting Sound Recordings”.    And in Kenya, The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has lost the licence to collect music royalties. The moved followed the decision by the board of directors of Kenya Copyright Board to approve the licensing of a new body, Music Publishers Association of Kenya Limited, to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers from March 2017 to February 2018, effective immediately. The decision was made after the new…

WSJ probe Bon Jovi’s China cancellation
Contract , Live Events / November 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector   The Wall Street Journal has published an article which seemingly alleges that AEG Live used a video of Bon Jovi “performing in front of an image of the Dalai Lama” to convince Chinese censors to ban the rock act – and thus force the cancellation of a concert tour in China which was being promoted by AEG. The supposed reason?  The third party intervention by Chinese authorities would be an instance of ‘force majeure’ – forcing the cancellation of the tour which was not selling well, saving AEG some $4 million. WSJ say that whilst AEG did not offer any explanation for the cancellations at the time, it was widely reported at the time that the Chinese government withdrew permission for the tour after they became aware of a performance by the band a few years earlier in front of an image of the Dalai Lama – and WSJ say unnamed sources have said that individuals close to AEG Live ensured Chinese officials saw the videos with the intent of cutting potentially steep losses for the shows. Jay Marciano, chairman of AEG Live and chief operating officer of AEG, categorically rejected the account, telling the Journal….

Promoter ordered to make refunds in EXO Shanghai fiasco
Consumers , Live Events / April 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector     Shanghai’s arts and culture administration has ordered the Chinese promoter of a planned concert by K-Pop boyband EXO to provide a full refund to fans (so called EXO-Ls) after a concert advertised to last three hours finished after just 30 minutes. The promoter had also promised that all nine members of EXO would perform at least 10 songs ina three hour show. However, one key band member, Lay, was absent, and the 5 song concert lasted barely half an hour, reports allkpop.  Lay was apparently being filmed fo ra movie role. The band has existed as a 12, 11,10 and now 9 piece combination of Korean and Chinese members. In late 2014 two members of the band, Luhan and Kris (Wu Yi Fan) filed separate lawsuit against SM Entertainment asking to nullify their contracts with SME.   Many fans had reportedly paid up to ¥10,000 (approximately US$1,500) for front-row seats, with regular tickets fetching between¥4,000 and ¥6,000 yuan ($600–$900). Although refunds will be given, EXO-Ls will have to travel to an office block in Shanghai to collect their money, regardless of where they live.

Backstreet Boys in China ‘scam’ results in $1.56 million claim
Contract , Live Events / March 2016

CONTRACT Live events sector     Chinese promoter Guangzhou Love Life Culture Development Ltd is taking legal action to reclaim the money it says it paid over to Belinda International Entertainment Group. Guangzhou says it paid over $2.2 million to promote a series of shows by the veteran boy band Backstreet Boys in China, with Belinda, which was said to be based in Flushing, Queens, but the offer “turned out to be a fraud.” The suit states that the defendants were never at any time “ready, able or in a position” to provide the Backstreet Boys for performances.  It is alleged that Belinda was operated by a person named Kam Yan Leung, who promised to get the group to play dates in China, Macau and Hong Kong. However, it turned out that Yeung had “no relationship with the band”. When Guangzhou realised the “subterfuge” and demanded a refund, Leung only returned $640,000. Guangzhou is now suing for the balance of $1.56 million.

Chinese Karaoke venues get court approved licences
Copyright , Music Publishing / February 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A Court in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province has facilitated a group licensing contract between 200 karaoke venues and the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC). The Court mediated contract follows intensive litigation action by MCSC. According to the Court, there have been 1,433 related civil cases in the city over the past four years with average damages awarded of one yuan (10p) per day per karaoke room. According to media reports, each karaoke venue will pay a little over RMB1,000 (£100) per year under the group contract. Jiaxing City has a population of over 3 million people.   More in Chinese here and in English here

China listens to musicians and issues a second draft of copyright law revision
Copyright / August 2012

COPYRIGHT All areas   China has released a second draft revision of its Copyright Law for public comment, dropping the controversial Article 46 that raised an outcry from Chinese musicians who said it violated their rights by allowing record producers to use another artist’s music without obtaining consent as long as the work had been published for more than three months. The second draft of the law eliminates Article 46 and makes a number of changes in response to more than 1,600 comments submitted during a 30-day comment period on the first draft in April. The new draft also removes the requirement to register for copyright if statutory damages were to apply and also appears to put some liability for infringing activity onto ISPs saying that a network service provider who “instigates or helps others to infringe …  shall be jointly liable.” The National Copyright Administration of the People’s Republic of China (NCAC) released the second draft of the copyright law on its website July 6, and will accept comments by fax or letter until July 31. The NCAC is expected to issue another one or two drafts by October, and the final will be submitted to the State Council…

China’s proposed copyright reforms prompt widespread comment
Copyright / May 2012

COPRIGHT All areas The National Copyright Administration in China has published a preliminary amendment draft to revise China’s copyright laws (Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China (modified draft)) on its official website (on March 31st). The draft has been posted to “collect public opinion and constructive feedback”, and there has already been a vocal response as bloggers, songwriters and music producers (amongst others) digest the news – and many have singled out Articles 46 and 48 for criticism. The amendment to Article 46 (which governs infringement of copyright) is interesting and says that any record producer who acts pursuant to Article 48 shall have the right to make recordings of musical works owned by another, without needing authorisation from the original owner, provided that the content had been published for three months or longer. The existing law says (and I quote from a press article) “no such work may be used where the copyright owner declares that use is not permitted”. You can see the current wording of Article 46 and Article 47 here. Now if I understand that correctly surely that’s what would be called ‘statutory licensing’? However there is some confusion as a number of the press…

Music Business Tunes for Next Copyright Fight
Copyright , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels                                        ARTICLE LINK:  A useful update on the recorded music sector’s current position on piracy and its presumed wish list for legislative and other change

IFPI Digital Music Reports says its growth – but is it good news?
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2012

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   The IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2012 has just been published and headline figures from the record industry’s global trade body show Major international music services which include streaming services like Spotify are now in 58 countries, up from 23 in January 2011 Digital music revenues are up 8 per cent to US$5.2 billion The IFPI say that anti-piracy action has made an impact in France, New Zealand with the US to follow in 2012 but the IFPI says that piracy and the ‘legal environment’ remain a problem The IFPI say that consumers are benefitting from a widening choice of services for experiencing digital music. In 2011, subscription services expanded and linked with new partners to reach new audiences. Meanwhile cloud technology is helping transform the way fans manage and store their music. Global revenues to record companies grew by an estimated 8 per cent to US$5.2 billion in 2011 – a faster rate than 2010 – with strong consumer demand for both single track downloads (up 11 per cent by volume), digital albums (up 24 per cent by volume) and fast-expanding subscription services. The number of users paying to subscribe to a music service leapt…

IFPI – Google, could do better in USA – Baidu: no longer on the naughty step in China
Copyright , Internet / January 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association Of America have published an overview of Google’s efforts to stop its various platforms – including the search engine, YouTube, the Android app store and Google’s advertising network from assisting music pirates, either by providing exposure or direct revenue. The overview relates to pledges made by Google on these issues in December last year, and whilst the IFPI accepts that there is  much to be commended, it  concludes that the web giant has much still to do to make good on its commitments. The IFPI report says : “While Google has taken some modest steps to deal with copyright infringement online, the promises made by Google remain unfulfilled. Despite its steps, the simple fact is that Google continues to both receive financial benefits from sites and applications that engage in piracy and place artificial road blocks in rights holders’ efforts to protect their content online, contrary to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act”. The IFPI paper also plays down Google’s claim at a recent congressional hearing in the US that it had invested $60 million in the last year to crack down on violations of its advertising…

China seeks to order online music
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels The Chinese Ministry of Culture has ordered domestic websites to cease streaming and download services for a list of over 100 songs which the Ministry has not authorised for the Internet saying “A website that is engaged in the operation of an online music product must go through procedures with the Ministry’s department of cultural markets” – the ministry operates a review procedure all foreign tracks and operates a registration system for domestic product. Li Jian, an official told reporters “the procedure is a bid to strike out copyright infringement and refine the order of the online cultural market”. Domestic search engines and websites have been told to review and cancel services dealing with the list of (unapproved) tracks, which features Lady Gaga and the Backstreet Boys by September 15th or face investigation and penalties. The registration system means that whichever website gains the first permission to use the track can then pass that permission on – other websites have to go to the first registrant for permission. Record industry executive have pointed out that they do not agree that once they have licensed a website to sell their music it can re-authorise others, that the…

Spotify launches in USA, Baidu goes legal
Copyright , Internet / August 2011

COPYRIGHT Internet Spotify has finally launched in the UK. The successful European service, which has 10 million users, has now concluded a deal with the Warner Music Group, the last of the four major labels to sign up, and with music publishing collection society ASCAP, to allow for its American debut. China’s largest search engine Baidu has announced that it had signed a deal with an agency representing three of the major record companies, Universal, Warner and Sony, which, it says, will now enable it to offer a fully licensed MP3 service. In April it said it had a deal in place with the Music Copyright Society of China, which represents the interests of music publishers.

Baidu to start to pay songwriters royalties and launch music service

COPYRIGHT Internet, music publishing Giant Chinese search engine Baidu have said that they have reached an agreement with the Music Copyright Society of China to start paying a publishing royalty on any MP3s downloaded or streamed via the search platform. Baidu has been the target of both criticism and legal actions in the past for its MP3 search function, which lets users specifically search the net for MP3 files by artist or song name – the Vast majority of which come from unlicensed servers. Under the new agreement with MCSC, Baidu will pass a share of advertising revenue on for every track accessed via the search platform from a new music service that Baidu plans to launch in May. Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo told Reuters the Baidu Ting service will offer streaming, downloads and social networking elements, and will be supported in part by advertising and is in talks with the major labels.

Updates on copyright law
Copyright / March 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas A new survey in the US commissioned by NBC Universal shows that 23.8% of global Internet traffic involves “digital theft,” with the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol accounting for 11.4% of this figure. Brand and trademark monitoring firm Envisional’s analysis of the top 10,000 peer-to-peer swarms found that 99.24% of non-pornographic material being traded was copyrighted material. It also found that “infringing cyberlocker sites” accounted for 5.1% of global Internet traffic, while “infringing video streaming sites” made up 1.4% of global traffic. Nearly 100,000 North Americans have been sued for suspected copyright infringement on file-sharing networks over the past twelve months according to details of a study published by TorrentFreak. Again the majority are alleged to have utilised BitTorrent, although some users of eDonkey were also targeted. Chinese officials say they have arrested 4,000 people in relation to 2,000 separate cases of intellectual property infringement since last November. Gao Feng, Deputy Director of China’s Ministry Of Public Security’s Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau confirmed that the Chinese government had stepped up its efforts to fight commercial piracy operations. The USA estimates that US IP industries alone lose $3.5 billion a year to Chinese piracy. It also appears that Google has responded pressure from…

Baidu did infringe by using lyrics
Copyright , Internet / April 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet After a run of success in the Chinese courts, search engine Baidu has now lost a lawsuit in the Beijing courts. The new case centred on the lyrics of songs that Baidu posts next to its MP3 search function. It was sued by the Music Copyright Society Of China, which said the search firm did not have the appropriate licence to publish song lyrics owned by its members. The Beijing People’s Court for the Haidian District agreed and fined Baidu, 50,000 yuan plus 10,000 yaun legal costs  just over £5500). Baidu’s usual (and so far successful) defence that it only provides links to infringing sites failed on the facts of this case as the lyrics were actually posted and published on Baidu’s site (rather than linked to)  next to links to MP3 search functions. Baidu plans to appeal.

Deep linking does not infringe copyright in China
Copyright , Internet / February 2010

COPYRIGHT Internet The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court has held that deep linking to sites hosting MP3 files, whether legal or not, does not violate copyright law in China, clearing China’s dominant search engine Baidu of copyright charges brought by the IFPI, the music industry trade group, saying that merely providing search results doesn’t qualify as infringement. The case, launched in February 2008 accused Baidu and a handful of other Chinese companies of supporting piracy. The charge was that Baidu’s results provided links to file sharing sites and, in many cases, direct links to illegally shared MP3s on various servers around the world. The IFPI said it unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a resolution with Baidu, leaving it with no other choice but to sue over the deep linking practice. The Beijing court disagreed with the definition of copyright infringement. In its ruling, the court said that the IFPI failed to identify any of the sites that were allegedly hosting the illegal music, and Baidu itself was not hosting the songs. The Baidu case actually represents the IFPI’s second go at the search engine—its first case, brought in 2005, was thrown out by the same court saying that the files…

US puts Canada on the naughty step
Copyright / June 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas The US has added Canada to a list of its top twelve of countries which persistently fail to protect intellectual property rights alongside China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela  While there has been much criticism in the past from the US and elsewhere regarding Canada’s copyright laws, and their failure to take on physical bootleggers as well as the ever growing population of online pirates, it is the first time the Americans have put their Northern neighbours on their “priority watch list” of IP abusers. The report from the US Trade Representative that revealed Canada had been added to the watch list noted: “We urge Canada to enact legislation in the near term to strengthen its copyright laws and implement relevant World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties [which Canada signed up to over a decade ago but never incorporated into its copyright laws]. The United States also continues to urge Canada to improve its IP enforcement system to enable authorities to take effective action against the trade in counterfeit and pirated products within Canada, as well as curb the volume of infringing products transshipped and transiting through Canada”. Read more on ‘At…

China gets new ad sponsored Google music service

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet Google, the four major music labels and 14 independent labels have launched an ad-supported music service in China in an attempt to make online music profitable there. The venture will have to compete with the numerous search engines which link users to illegally hosted free files but Google hopes that the new service will make it even easier for users to find what they want online while ensuring artists get paid for their work. The service is run through the partially-Google-owned which is responsible for selling advertising space and dividing revenues between the music labels. The site will be limited to users with IP address in mainland China. The move follows a numb er of legal actins brought by both the Music Copyright Society of China and the IFPI against leading Chinese search engines including Baidu and Yahoo – which have had mixed results in the Chinese courts.

China’s nonstop music machine
Copyright , Internet / October 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet ARTICLE LINK:  There’s an interesting article on website The Register looking into the operations of Chinese search engine Baidu, Chinas biggest search engine (far bigger than Google with a 70% market share) which provides a MP3 search engine which provides easy access to online sources of digital music, predominantly illegal unlicensed services. This service was been found to be legal by the Chinese courts after Baidu argued that they didn’t actually host any illegal content – merely linked to it. However the Chinese courts then later found Yahoo! guilty for running a similar service and Baidu now face a second case. The Register have noted that Baidu is one of China’s big internet success stories and at the end of last year it started to trade its shares on the New York based NASDAQ stock exchange – and is valued at $12 billion – and wonders what the implications were for investors. The Register also note that the Chinese government is starting to crack down on corporate infringers in their country as a result of pressure from the West – earlier this year Chinese authorities fined one of Baidu’s albeit smaller rivals, Zhongsou, and seized their servers in…

China sets up karaoke copyright collection system
Copyright / July 2008

COPYRIGHT All areas China ’s Audio and Video Copyright Collective Management Association has finally been set up in Beijing after a gestation period of 10 years to implement China’s “Copyright Collective Management Rule”. The association will manage audio- and video-related issues as well as assuming the duty of collecting karaoke copyright fees, previously discharged by the China Audio and Video Association. The new organisation will have power to take civil, administrative and even criminal measures against copyright infringers. However, this month also saw the news that BeeGee Robin Gibb, President of CISAC, the worldwide consortium of trade associations that represent songwriters and other creators, has called on the Chinese government to end all the copyright violations in China. Using the upcoming Olympics as a reason for focusing attention on the creative industries in the country, Gibb says that it’s not only the country’s mass pirated CD market that is a problem, questioning why Chinese broadcasters still do not pay royalties for music they use. Speaking at the CISAC General Assembly in Rome, the Bee Gee said: “How is it and how can it be that in China, the most populated country in the world and the organiser of the 2008…

Chinese search engine fined
Copyright , Internet / June 2008

COPYRIGHT Internet Zhongsou, one of China’s top five internet search engines, has been found guilty of infringing record companies’ copyrights by the Copyright Bureau of Hebei province and Cangzhou city.  The authorities have ordered the internet company to stop infringing immediately and pay the maximum penalty of RMB 100,000.  Three computer servers belonging to Zhongsou have also been forfeited. This is the first time that administrative penalties have been levied on a company running a music delivery service. In September 2007, IFPI lodged a complaint with the Hebei Provincial Copyright Bureau.  Further investigations by Cangzhou Copyright Bureau, Cangzhou Cultural Task Force and RenQiu Cultural Task Force revealed that copyright infringing files accessed by the delivery service were hosted on servers owned by Zhongsou in Cangzhou city in Hebei province.  With the assistance of the ISP Cangzhou Netcom, the authorities raided and seized the servers on 11th March 2008. The administrative fine of RMB 100,000 imposed on Zhongsou in May 2008 is the largest fine for copyright infringement in the history of Hebei province. (from press release)

Market owners prosecuted for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels Following in from our top story physical piracy, the owners of an open air market in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire have been ordered to pay over a total of £300,000 after being found guilty of allowing and profiting from the sale of counterfeit goods at their market. Wendy Fair Markets Ltd and its directors Nicholas Hobday and Sally Ward were ordered to pay back the £250,000 in rent money it was estimated they had taken off the owners of market stalls that sold pirated goods, and pay it, in addition to £50,000 in legal fees, back to the intellectual property industries that had lost out because of the bootlegger in the first time the owners of a market that enables bootleggers to reach their customers have been successfully prosecuted for IP crimes. It is hoped the ruling will make other market owners more vigilant in ensuring the stalls they host do not violate any intellectual property rights. Elsewhere in anti-piracy news, two Scottish music pirates have been ordered to pay £400,000 under the Proceeds Of Crime Act, a verdict which labels hope will deter others from getting involved in the illegal distribution and sale of bootleg CDs. The two men,…

Baidu faces fresh legal challenge in China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / April 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet   China ‘s leading search engine, Baidu is facing a new lawsuit just a month after it won a similar court challenge which freed Baidu from responsibility for illegal download sites linked too. An action against Yahoo at the same time was more successful as the action held that Yahoo was guilty of contributory infringement after failing to act on take down notices targeting links to illegal sites – sent from the labels. China ‘s music rights organization, the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) and a leading Chinese digital music distributor, R2G announced the anti-piracy action against Baidu. MCSC have filed a lawsuit, citing infringement of at least 50 songs and is seeking compensation totaling one million yuan ($140,619) and an end to alleged violations. R2G has also issued a letter threatening legal action against Baidu requesting the de-linking of all its unlicensed content. Baidu asserts it has placed great importance on intellectual property rights protection and formulated measures to safeguard the rights of intellectual property right holders and the search engine claims that it has been exploring new types of commercial models to tackle copyright disputes, such as disc promotions and advertisements. In December, the People’s High…

The Recording Industry steps up their campaign against piracy in China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet ***We have become a bit concerned about the accuracy of some of the IFPI’s reports recently and would like to point readers to an article on the Music 2.0 website regarding the background to the IFPI’s actions against Baidu and Yahoo! China:*** With that in mind, we should make it clear that the following is taken from an IFPI press release The IFPI has announced a series of new steps to “try to develop a music business in China based on respect rather than blatant violation of copyright laws” saying that legal proceedings have been filed today against the country’s biggest internet company, Baidu. Separate actions have also been brought against Sohu and its associate company Sogou.  Meanwhile, Yahoo! China faces fresh proceedings following its refusal to comply with the court ruling in December confirming it violated Chinese law by committing mass copyright infringement.  All of the Chinese companies involved operate similar services based on delivering music to their users via “deep links” to hundreds of thousands of infringing tracks on third party sites, with the aim of driving their own advertising revenue.  Such services have been confirmed as in breach of copyright by the December…

Beijing Court confirms Yahoo’s music service infringes copyright law
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / January 2008

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The international recording industry has hailed a landmark Beijing court ruling confirming that Yahoo China’s music delivery service violates Chinese law by facilitating mass copyright infringement. Yahoo China, part-owned by one of the world’s biggest internet companies, Yahoo Inc, runs an operation enabling users to search for, play and download pirate music without ever leaving its website.  Yahoo China’s appeal against a guilty verdict in April was today dismissed by the Beijing Court. The decision is made under new Chinese copyright laws which entered into force in 2006.  The Court separately ruled on a similar case against internet company, Baidu which ‘deep links’ to thousands of illegal tracks had been brought under the previous Chinese copyright laws.  The ruling confirmed that Baidu participated with and assisted third party sites in transmitting infringing music, but under the old laws Baidu was not liable for copyright infringement. Over 99 per cent of all music downloading in China infringes. In September 2005 IFPI filed claims on behalf of Gold Label, Go East, Cinepoly, EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG – in the Beijing No.1 Intermediate Court regarding a total of 195 sound recordings claiming infringement of the record companies’…

IFPI puts pressure in Yahoo’s China services
Copyright , Internet / December 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has called on US based Yahoo! Inc to step in and stop Yahoo! China from infringing the copyrights of its members. The call came as Yahoo! China went to court in Beijing in a bid to fight the IFPI’s legal action against its MP3 search service. The IFPI has been in legal dispute with both Yahoo! China and its main competitor in the Chinese search engine market,, for some time over an MP3 search service they both offer which often takes users directly to illegal sources of music content. They claim that while Yahoo! China and Baidu do not actually host the illegal content, by providing such simple access to it they too are guilty of infringing their members’ copyrights. Both Yahoo! China and Baidu have been fighting the IFPI’s legal attempts to stop the MP3 search service, mainly because the service is so popular with their users. While the legal side of the dispute could, to be honest, go either way, the IFPI are hoping they have another route for bringing Yahoo! China inline – by putting pressure on Yahoo! Inc who own 44% of Alibaba Group, the Chinese…

Does China discriminate against foreign copyrights?
Competition , Record Labels / August 2007

COMPETITION Record labels, film & TV The United States is seeking urgent consultations with China over China’s rules on music downloading and cinema rights that The US say discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films. Hollywood studios and U.S. Internet music providers such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes store could be among the groups that suffer from “less favorable distribution opportunities” for imported films and foreign suppliers of music recordings in China, which the U.S. cited in a World Trade Organization request in July. The main issue is that music from foreign sources needs to undergo content review before being distributed in China. Chinese music doesn’t have to face that process and it is suggested that these reviews delay Chinese Internet providers and Chinese consumers from accessing foreign music. The same discrimination exists when Chinese consumers seek to download music onto mobile phones the US allege. The problem for American music providers is compounded by rules that prevent foreign companies from owning or investing in businesses that distribute music over the Internet. We are not quite sure about this one at Music Law Updates – whilst seen in the strict headlights of competition law that screening of foreign music may seem…

Yahoo! China must remove links to illegal websites
Copyright , Internet / May 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet A Beijing Court has confirmed that Yahoo! China has clear responsibility for removing all links to websites hosting infringing download tacks tracks on its service.  Yahoo’s China website, operated by, has been ordered to pay the compensation of 210,000 yuan ($27,000) for copyright violations and must delete links to 229 songs on nonaffiliated sites by the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. About 85 percent of recordings in China are illegal, with sales of pirated music worth $410 million in 2005, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the industry group that brought the claim. EMI, Warner Music Group and nine other record companies sued Yahoo China in March claims the service violated copyrights by allowing users of its search engine to find links to pirated music. The music industry had previously lost a similar case in China (although on first appeal) against Baidu – a leading Chinese links/search site. That case is being appealed again and the IFPI are obviously hoping that the Yahoo! case, decided under new Chinese regulations, will prove a valuable precedent in the Baidu appeal.

IFPI to sue Yahoo! China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / April 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet The Asia branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has confirmed it is suing Yahoo! China for copyright infringement based on the search engine’s practice of providing links to unlicensed music download site. IFPI’s Asia Regional Director Leong May-Seey has confirmed that Beijing’s Intermediate Court has accepted the case, being brought against the web firm by eleven music companies, including all of the majors. It is worth noting that the IFPI is taking the action against Yahoo! China despite ultimately losing a similar previously reported case against China’s leading search engine Baidu last year. While the Chinese courts initially ordered Baidu to pay compensation to EMI for its MP3 search service which provided links to illegal sources of music, an appeal hearing in November overruled that decision ruling that Baidu could not be held liable for any copyright violation because it did not, itself, host any of the unlicensed content, it merely linked to the illegal sites.

EMI drop Chinese appeal and agree to work with Baidu
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / February 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels EMI Group, which lost a copyright infringement lawsuit against at first instance when a Chinese court held that simply by linking to infringing sites Baidu was not committing any offence, has now said that it will drop its appeal and work with the Chinese Internet search site to win advertising by offering free online samples of its music. Baidu will sell online advertisements for a section of its Web site featuring streaming samples of EMI’s Chinese-language music. EMI and Baidu will share the ad revenue, they said, without providing details. Baidu has triple the market share of its closest rival, Google, in its home market although that market being home to rampant piracy.

China impose tight rules for digital music distribution
Internet , Media / January 2007

MEDIA Internet, broadcasting The Chinese government is set to impose new laws on digital music. The new measures will mean that all music products and music service operators will be required to obtain a central license from the Ministry of Culture. “ The “Guidelines on the Development and Management of Network Music” have the stated purpose of preventing problems, such as poor quality, pirated uploads and downloads, and content that “offends” ethnic groups or “affects social stability”. They will also ban the creation of ‘network entertainment firms’ funded by foreign investors and will see the government increase control over blogs and social networking sites. Whilst the new laws will primarily govern piracy in the internet and mobile space, they are also likely to have severe consequences for foreign companies looking to capitalise on the growth of digital music, especially in the mobile space.

China needs to develop mechanisms to collect broadcast royalties
Copyright / January 2007

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting Chinese radio and TV stations are expected to pay royalties on the music they broadcast from next year, when a set of fee collection methods and standards will be officially promulgated. The “methods and standards” are being drawn up by the Office of Legislative Affairs of the State Council according to a statement from the National Copyright Administration, who refused to be named. In 2001, the Chinese government amended its copyright law, requiring radio and TV stations to pay fees to copyright holders for playing their recordings unless they have reached other agreements on fees. However, specific methods and standards are yet to be set out and the Music Copyright Society of China had raised a motion to the legislative National People’s Congress (NPC) urging the process be pushed forward.

The Last Emperor’s image rights cannot be owned
Artists , Image Rights , Trade Mark / January 2007

TRADE MARK / IMAGE RIGHTS Artists The brother of the last Emperor of China, Aisin Giorro Pu yi, has lost a claim to protect his late brother’s image rights. Jin Youhzi (originally Aisin Giorro Pu Ren, now aged 88) filed the suit in Bejing saying that an official exhibition in the Forbidden City on his brothers life who ruled China from boyhood till his forced abdication in 1911 “violated the image rights of the deceased and hurt Pu Yi’s survivors”. The exhibition was in the former imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Jin’s case which asked for the exhibition’s closure, the payment of legal costs and apologies by organizers to be printed in five national newspapers was first rejected on July 14 by the Beijing Dongcheng District People’s Court before the appeal went to Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court. The appellate court found against the claimant saying that Pu Yi was a public figure whose life was closely connected with China’s history and these rights were in the public domain.

IFPI Knocked by Chinese decision
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / December 2006

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Following on from a Spanish Court’s decision that private downloading for personal use wasn’t illegal, The Chinese Internet search leader has been cleared of helping users to download music illegally in a case brought by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on behalf of some of the world’s largest music companies. The IFPI which estimates that about 85 percent of all music consumed in China is pirated, said it would appeal against the ruling by the No. 1 Intermediate Court of Beijing and was confident it would be overturned. I am amazed by this inexplicable judgment that is totally out of step with Chinese law,” IFPI chairman John Kennedy said in a statement.  The decision seems to have been made on the basis that Baidu merely links to infringing third party sites and hosts no infringing material itself. Its links do not differentiate between legal sites and infringing sites.

New piracy laws come into force in China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2006

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels Sony BMG and Warners are among record labels that may use a newly enacted criminal law to fight against Chinese Web sites, including Yahoo China, that allegedly infringe copyright laws according to the International Federation of Phonographic Industries. The new law, effective from July 1 st allows for fines for distributors of illegally copied music, movies and other material over the Internet of up to 100,000 yuan ($12,500). About 90% of all recordings in China are illegal, with sales of pirated music worth about $400 million annually, according to the IFPI. The U.S. has threatened to file a case to the World Trade Organization unless China reduces incidents of intellectual property violation. Last year seven record labels filed a civil case against, China’s most-used search engine. No outcome has been reached yet. In 2005 Baidu lost a civil case brought by Shanghai Bu-sheng Music Culture Media, the local distributor for EMI. Baidu is appealing the case. The new criminal law adopted by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on May 18 stipulates that a Web site is jointly liable for infringement ”if it knows or should know that the work, performance or sound or video recording…

China begins to clamp down on file swapping
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / July 2006

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet China has announced a new law banning the uploading and downloading of pirated material over the Internet as well as the production, import and supply of any technology that aids piracy. Under the new regulation, those who infringe copyrights may be fined up to RMB 100,000 and the computer equipment involved may be confiscated. Internet companies will also be required by the government to provide contact information for owners of sites that distribute pirated material. The move is part of China’s efforts to curb rising piracy rates in the country according to and will put pressure on online companies such as, China’s leading search engine. Baidu has been sued by the major record labels because its search function violated their copyrights by allowing users to find MP3 files on the Internet. The EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has warned China that the EU expects it to improve its IP enforcement measures, to improve access to the market for European products and to ‘apply rather than circumvent the rules’. Although improvements have been made, the EU argues that China is still not meeting its TRIPs obligations and that if things don’t change, the European market…

The copyright industry tightens the screws on illegal peer-2-peer file swappers, swapping sites and software that facilitates file swapping

COPYRIGHT Record labels, music publishers, internet Following on from the success of the MGM v Grokster case in the USA (Law Updates August2005) and other successes against peer-2-peer websites offering illegal download files (including cases in Australia, Korea and Taiwan) there have been a rash of recent news stories reinforcing the improving position of record labels, music publishers and film companies – although all still against a background of heavy piracy in illegal downloading and file swapping. iMesh has becomes the first of the ‘illegal’ P2P service to go legal (although UK based already offered a legal swapping service to its subscribers). iMesh’s new software blocks any music with a copyright from being downloaded. The service will charge using the subscription model, charging users $6.95 per month. However the real challenge will be to tempt the 5 million users of the old version that allowed free sharing to pay. In the week preceding the announcement the old version of the software was downloaded over 1.5 million times. In Hong Kong a magistrates court has convicted a man of attempting to distribute film content over the BitTorrent P2P network. Chan Nai-ming, from Hong Kong, received a three (3) month jail sentence after being…

China regulates for a sanitised web
Internet , Regulation / November 2005

REGULATION Internet The Chinese State Council Information Bureau and Ministry of Industry and Information have issued new restrictions on Chinese websites. All Chinese websites are now prevented from putting out news that: – violates the basic principles of the Chinese constitution – endangers national security, leaks national secrets, seeks to overthrow the government or endangers the unification of the country – destroys the country’s reputation and benefits – arouses national feelings of hatred, racism, and endangers racial unification – violates national policies on religion, promotes the propaganda of sects and superstition – diffuses rumours, endangers public order and creates social uncertainty – diffuses information that is pornographic, violent, terrorist or linked to gambling – libels or harms people’s reputation, violates people’s legal rights – includes illegal information bounded by law and administrative rules. Websites also have to conform with the following provisions: – It is forbidden to encourage illegal gatherings, strikes, etc to create public disorder – It is forbidden to organise activities under illegal social associations or organisations Websites that break these new rules will be shut down and those running them will have to pay a fine that could reach 30,000 yuans (3,000 euros). See:

Major labels seek to outlaw Chinese search engine
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / October 2005

COPYRIGHT Internet, Record Labels China’s leading internet search engine has said that it would appeal a decision by a Beijing court that it should pay compensation to a unit of global music group EMI music, over downloads of pirated pop music offered through its website. The ruling, which also ordered the company to stop providing the services, highlighted the potential legal vulnerability of the popular “MP3” digital music search service offered by Baidu, which enjoyed a hugely successful listing on the Nasdaq last month. The Baidu search engine (commonly refered to as ‘the Chinese Google’) has been sued for making copyright infringement easy via its MP3 search option. Baidu commands 37.4% of China’s search market. German and Australian courts have already held that internet links sites to other illegal download sites are in themselves illegal. The company claims that it is not offering downloads itself: it is merely offering a search option. Baidu’s VP of Marketing, Liang Dong, says: “From the copyright point of view, we think differently than the music companies. Baidu is just a platform for music search”. Source: Five Eight Magazine – See: For the Australian decision see Law Updates August 2005 and Germany see Law Updates…

Pirating cable TV in Hong Kong: By Ken Yip
Copyright / October 2005

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting ARTICLE: This is a link to a useful article on pirated internet streaming of cable TV programmes via the internet: Synopsis “First it was CD. Then it was DVD. Now, it is cable-TV …… Recently, a couple of specialized computer programs have been developed to allow P2P streaming of cable-TV contents, such as ESPN and Discovery Channel, over the Internet. Anyone can now log on to the internet and watch ESPN without paying a dime to a cable-TV operator or ESPN” See:

China tracks down more pirates
Copyright , Record Labels / August 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels China has arrested some 2,600 people in an 8-month-old crackdown on product piracy, the government has said, criticizing US complaints that it was failing to stop rampant copying of foreign movies, music and other goods. Authorities have destroyed 63 million compact discs and other counterfeit goods estimated to be worth 860 million yuan ($105 million), said Vice Minister of Commerce Zhang Zhigang, speaking at a nationally televised news conference. Zhang acknowledged that China still faced “quite a few problems,” but he criticized the U.S. for adding Beijing to a list of 14 countries that receive special scrutiny because of widespread violation of copyrights. The US government said in April that product piracy in China had reached “epidemic levels” and has warned that Beijing could face formal complaints in the World Trade Organization, raising the threat of trade sanctions. China is regarded as the world’s biggest source of illegally copied goods, including Hollywood movies, Microsoft Corp. software, Ralph Lauren shirts and Callaway golf clubs. Estimates of potential lost sales to legitimate producers worldwide range from $16 billion to as much as $50 billion a year. Despite repeated crackdowns, counterfeit goods are widely available in Chinese shops. Authorities have…

Universal and Warners file infringement file in China
Copyright , Record Labels / June 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels The Huangpu District People’s Court in Shanghai has accepted two copyright cases filed by Universal Music and Warner Music against the Shanghai Book City and several Chinese music producers. The plaintiffs said in their lawsuits that the Book City sold pirated MP3 discs that contain songs from pop stars Daniel Chen and Sammi Cheng. Universal Music and Warner Music hold the copyrights associated with the songs. The suit also alleges that Beijing Yuncheng Laser Disc Co Ltd, Beijing Weidi Electric Publishing House, Hebei Jiyuan Photoelectricity Co Ltd, Anhui Culture and Music Publishing House and Beijing Zhengpu Scientific Development Co Ltd issued MP3 discs containing the songs without authorization. Universal Music and Warner Music have asked the court to order the defendants to stop sales immediately and make a public apology. The plaintiffs are also seeking unspecified financial compensation. Book City said it performed its obligation as a retailer to stock products from authorized suppliers. If the suppliers produce pirated books or music products, they should be held responsible. Book City also said it is impossible to check whether all its goods are properly licensed since it sells tens of thousands of music and video products and books….

Copyright Infringements in Chinese Ringtones
Copyright , Record Labels / July 2004

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Telecommunications The Music Copyright Society of China has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the local handset manufacturer, Capitel accusing the company of using copyrighted music for ringtones without permission of the copyright holders. Last June, the MCSC says that it discovered three Capitel cell phones (C6088\C6088A\C6288) were using ringtones based on “Liang Zhu” or “Butterfly Lovers,” two well-known pieces of Chinese music. According to the MCSC, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, the co-composers of “Butterfly Lovers,” who are also members of the MCSC, never authorized Capitel to use the song. MCSC claims that Capitel violated the music copyright for the two songs, as well as infringing on the composers’ intellectual property rights (IPR). “The court has accepted the case, and MCSC is now negotiating with Capitel for a justified compensation,” Ma Jichao, Director of the MCSC’s Licensing Department, told Interfax in an interview. The music copyright society of China (MCSC) was established on 17 December 1992, and was initiated by the Chinese musicians’ association and the national copyright administration of China. The MCSC has become the only officially recognised collective administration of music copyright in China. See :

Warners Wins Chinese Infringement Action but Lament Low Damages
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / June 2004

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Internet Warner Music Group may appeal against a court penalty on a Chinese website that offered illegal song downloads because it says it is too lenient to deter piracy. Shanghai Rongshuxia Computer was ordered to pay 15,000 yuan to Warner Music Taiwan by the Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court on Monday, less than 10 per cent of the 250,000 yuan the company had sought. Rongshuxia is a partner of Bertelsmann, Germany’s biggest media company. Music companies have stepped up legal attacks on unauthorised downloading over the internet after piracy caused global recorded music sales to slump 7.6 per cent to US$32 billion last year. Warner Music and Bertelsmann’s BMG unit were among five companies that warned Chinese websites against piracy in March, the Beijing Times reported on April 15. Warner Music, sued Rongshuxia for offering 10 songs by Chinese female singer Na Ying for free download on its website from April 2002. Rongshuxia, mainly an online publisher of Chinese literature – it has more than two million texts on its site – withdrew the music files after Warner complained in March last year. Warner Music’s compensation claim was felt to be too high because it was based on…

Lacoste Loses Trademark Action Against Crocodile International
Trade Mark / May 2004

TRADE MARK Merchandise Lacoste has lost its trademark suit against rival Crocodile International over the use of the crocodile logo in China. The emblem became symbolic of the Lacoste brand but Singapore based Crocodile International claimed it was first to dream up the design, registering the emblem in 1951. Lacoste, a French based company was ordered to stop using the logo and to pay one dollar in compensation. The Shanghai court started the hearings last December. The dispute had been ongoing for over four decades. The logos only differ materially in the direction they face – one to the left and one to the right. The crocodile design is slightly different. Lacoste says tennis legend Rene Lacoste registered the logo in France in 1933; then in China in 1980. But Singapore businessman Tan Hiantsin says his logo was designed in 1947 with the English word “crocodile” and registered in Singapore in 1951. He disputed Lacoste’s claim to have registered Chinese rights before the late 1990s. The case centred on Lacoste’s moves to register the trademark under its brands of cosmetics products in 1995. A key point in the argument was Mr Tan’s nationality. He’s a Chinese-born Malaysian and he claimed…

First Chinese Action for Unauthorised Public Performance of Sound Recordings

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers Proceedings in China’s first-ever lawsuit over copyright infringement for background music allegedly being played for profit-making purposes began in a Beijing court. Chang’an Department Store, a major retail outlet in the capital, has been charged for the infringement by the Music Copyright Society of China. The lawsuit court session started yesterday at the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court. This case is the first of its kind since the country’s Copyright Law was amended in 2001. In its indictment, the plaintiff is seeking a compensation of 228,100 yuan (US$27,600) for the accused store’s use of background music, whose copyright is managed by the society, without being authorized and paying fees to the society. No judgement was made in the case, and an announcement for the next session is yet to be made public. The Music Copyright Society of China is the country’s only officially recognised organisation for music copyright administration. See :

Chinese Rights Owners Seek Payment For Mobile Telephone Use

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Telecommunications The Music Copyright Society of China is seeking US$1.4 million, from China’s second biggest mobile phone operator, TCL Mobile Communication and its distributor, Beijing Digital Electronic Communication Technology, for installing 107 copyrighted Chinese tunes on 12 TCL models. TCL has offered to pay only about a quarter of the damages. A court ruling is pending after a hearing last week in Beijing. China, which is plagued by pirated CDs and DVDs which are on sale on street corners shortly after first release has vowed to crack down on copycats and strengthen intellectual property protection after the country joined the World Trade Organization two years ago. Chinese copyright laws do not specify how much cellphone makers should pay when they include copyright material. “Butterfly Lovers Concerto,” based on a Chinese tragic love story, and “Full Moon of the Fifteenth,” are among the most popular among Chinese cellphone users. China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest cellular market last year. With 244 million users at the end of August. The Chinese copyright owners have demanded 1.4 U.S. cents, for every tune installed on a phone and the dispute is really about how much TCL…

Nintendo develops low cost ‘piracy proof’ console for China
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / November 2003

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Internet Nintendo has revealed plans to market a cheaper version of its Game Cube console in China, with a flash memory card instead of the optical disc reader found on models sold in other countries. Game Cube software is normally stored on proprietary 1.5GB optical discs. Optical discs, such as DVDs and music CDs, are routinely counterfeited in China. Chinese users will have to take the Game Cube card to a shop and pay for the download of new games. The data cannot be extracted or cloned from one card to other cards, nor can a card for one console be used on other consoles. Nintendo hopes that the modified Game Cube overcomes to two obstacles holding back console makers from the potentially lucrative China market – the spending power of the consumer and rampant software piracy. The game device – dubbed iQue Player – is said to be capable of playing both SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) and Nintendo 64 titles, and will sell for 498 yuan (US$60), including the memory card, according to games web site Total Video Games. It will be sold from mid-October in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu in an effort to enable…

Copyright , Trade Mark / October 2003

COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK Book publishing, merchandising Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books have featured in a recent Chinese court decision where the state-owned Chinese Academy of Social Science Press was fined £30,000 by a district court in Beijing over its translations of Peter Rabbit and three of Potter’s other animal stories without permission. The case was brought by Frederick Warne & Co, which originally published the story in 1902 and is now a subsidiary of Penguin. The case is not a simple copyright case as under Chinese copyright law the literary copyright expired in 1993. Frederick Warne and Co then registered the Chinese characters used in the translation of Peter Rabbit along with all of Potter’s original drawings as trademarks. In Chinese law, copyright subsists for 50 years. In the UK, Potter’s work went briefly out of copyright at the same time, 50 years after Potter’s death in 1943, only to come back into copyright in 1995 when copyright protection for literary works was extended to life of author plus seventy years under the European Directive on Copyright Duration (Directive 93/98). The case is interesting in that the Court accepted that a new IP right was created by use of the drawings…


COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Artists, Internet A report published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shows that the illegal music market is now worth $4.6bn (£2.8bn) globally. It believes two out of every five CDs or cassettes sold are illegal. The IFPI said much of this money is going to support organised criminal gangs, dispelling the myth that it is a “victimless crime”. Jay Berman, chairman of the IFPI, said: “This is a major, major commercial activity, involving huge amounts of pirated CDs. The IFPI’s top 10 priority countries where labels want a crackdown on piracy are Brazil, China, Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Spain, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine. The IFPI also pointed out that when factoring in unlicensed downloads then “only one in three music products in the UK is authorised.” Despite the increase in the amount of CDs illegally produced and sold around the world, up 14% on 2001, there has also been a rise in the amount of CDs and recording equipment seized. The number of discs seized on their way for public sale was more than 50 million, a four-fold rise on the previous year. The IFPI is concerned in two main…