Chinese dotcoms should learn from Napster and mp3.com of the United States and stop providing free music without copyright for people to download, said an official of the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC).
"With the revised copyright law, which will come out soon, websites will have less freedom to provide illegal downloading services," said Ma Jichao, director of the Licence Department of the MCSC. The new copyright law, which is currently being read by the Standing Committee of the National's People's Congress, is expected to specify harsher punishments for the violation of copyright.
Late last year, the Supreme People's Court issued clarifications on the existing law, tightening up the control of copyright on the Internet and stipulating that any website providing links to illegal downloading websites could be sued.
"We will talk with some major portals about their links to illegal downloading sites," said Ma. "For examples, if there are illegal downloading webpages in the NetEase community, it will get into legal troubles."
The MCSC has sent messages to more than 100 websites believed to offer the service, and some 10 withdrew the service immediately. The remaining sites are mainly run by individuals.
The society has also held talks with more than 10 major portals in China, and has received a positive response.
NetEase, which has a Web community of more than 700,000 users, said every musical work linked to its site was authorized and that they were filtering out from its community those websites that published content unprotected by copyright law.
"We know about the moves of the MCSC and we will contact related government agencies and organizations to solve the problems," the company said in a written statement.
NetEase has signed an agreement with Taiwan-based music.com.tw to provide more than 100,000 licensed songs for registered users to download with a software named NetEase Kuro.
Wanwa.com, which was the first website on the Chinese mainland to pay for licensed music, also wants a more comprehensive copyright law.
"Only a more comprehensive and detailed copyright law can stop violations of copyright, close the illegal downloading websites and create equality on the market, which is what we law-abiding dotcoms depend on," said Feng Chujun, general manager of wanwa.com.
The fates of Napster and mp3.com, which have had to face legal cases for providing free downloading services or for providing the software for this activity, have been followed by those involved in the Internet in China. How to avoid illegal downloading is also soliciting more and more attention.
Napster offered US$1 billion to the recording industry as compensation, but was refused. Mp3.com had to pay more than US$50 million.
(China Daily 03/27/2001)