Karaoke bars in China's main cities will have to pay 12 yuan (US$1.50) a day in royalties to music artists for each room, according to a new regulation set by China's National Copyright Administration.
A statement on the administration's website said royalties would first be collected in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on a trial basis. The practice will gradually be widened to cover other cities, with the payment rate varying according to local economic conditions.
The move is another measure China has taken to improve its copyright protection in response to increasing pressure and is deemed vital in encouraging innovation.
The China Audio and Video Association has been designated as the temporary agent to collect the royalties for music being played in karaoke bars. This function will be taken over by an association for the collective management of audio and video copyrights after it is granted official approval by the government.
Karaoke bars in China generally range from several rooms to more than 100 rooms.
Liu Wenhe, who is working to establish audio and video copyright association, said the charges collected from the karaoke bars will be paid to music producers, song writers and music companies.
"We will leave our foreign counterparts to handle payments to foreign companies and individuals," said Liu.
He said a special team will be established to start collecting the fees from karaoke bars, possibly before the end of this year.
The Chinese government's efforts in combating piracy and protect intellectual property rights (IPR) has resulted in more shops and restaurants signing up to pay royalties on the ubiquitous background music that had long been used for free.
Standard international practice requires public venues to obtain permission and pay royalties for background music, according to China Music Copyright Protection Association (CMCPA).
More than 5,000 companies in China have signed up, including McDonald's, KFC, Wal-Mart, and Carrefour. Internet portal Sohu.comsigned with the CMCPA for the use of music on-line.
(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2006)