Background Music: Copyright Protected in China

The first copyright fees for background music broadcast in hotel lobbies and restaurants in Beijing’s some 63 major hotels (3-star and above) has been paid to the Music Copyright Society of China, furthering China’s efforts to comply with international copyright laws.

Founded in 1992, the Music Copyright Society of China is the only collective management organization for copyright in China, with ties to over 30 foreign music copyright protection organizations including the Irish Music Rights Organization, the National Music Publisher’s Association in the United States, and the Performing Rights Society-England.

The payment of 100,000 yuan (about US$12,500) on May 25 followed an agreement reached earlier this year between the Music Copyright Society and the Beijing Travel Industry Association’s Hotel Branch that hotels of three-stars or more will pay the Music Copyright Society of China a monthly fee of 1.75 yuan (US $0.21) per bed.

Qu Jingming, deputy director-in-chief of the Music Copyright Society of China, called the payment a milestone in China’s intensified efforts to safeguard the rights of creators of music in a country where traditionally such music has been performed without consideration of ownership. Qu is also a director of both the Intellectual Property Rights Research Society of China and China Copyright Research Society

“Many people [in China] see our fee collection as bureaucratic rather than from a legal perspective. But progress is being made since more people are aware of protecting music copyright, especially after the People’s Supreme Court officially issued an judicial explanation on usage of background music at the end of last year,” Qu said.

He explained that although China has had a copyright law since 1991, enforcement has been difficult because of a lack of specific clauses, particularly relating to background music. He said he hopes the payment will help establish legal precedent as well as inform people in general in China about the benefits of protection of intellectual property.

Earlier, the Music Copyright Society of China signed agreements on music copyright fees with international chains with stores in Beijing such as Ikea, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Many Beijing-based department stores also have begun to pay yearly copyright fees of 210 yuan (about US$25), Qu said.

China’s approaching entry into the World Trade Organization has helped quicken the pace of intellectual property rights protections in the country, according to Qu who added that his organization is seeking help from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in its work to advance a comprehensive copyright protection system in China.

Qu said he expects China’s on-going revisions of copyright protection laws will increase the stature and legal clout of the Music Copyright Society as it continues its work both at home and in the complicated area of infringement of music rights on the Internet.

( by Guo Xiaohong 06/22/2001)

In This Series

Top Tenors' Venue Gets a Facelift

Copyright and Trademarks to Be Better Protected

China Strengthens Music Copyright Protection

Sino-US Intellectual Property Symposium Held in Beijing

Court Aims to Protect Copyrights Online

CD Makers Pledge to Protect Copyright



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