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Guangzhou Mulling Royalty Fee on Karaoke Singers

People who sing in karaoke bars in south China's Guangzhou City may have to count the number of songs they choose as local authorities are mulling over imposing a one yuan (US$0.13) royalty fee on each song, according to a newspaper report.


According to the Beijing-based Workers' Daily, the Guangzhou municipal government is planning to install in the city's karaoke bars a monitoring system to record the hit rates of songs and singing time as a basis to charge consumers.


The price charged for each song is set temporarily at one yuan per song. The move, designed to settle long-standing intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes over the use of songs in karaoke bars, is expected to bring an annual several billion yuan of profit to the city's music industry.


But on hearing the news, the managers of more than 20 karaoke bars in the city objected.


"They just offer me a bill, but no related services, you tell me if I'll install it?" a manager queried, claiming that the move would oppress karaoke bar operators and customers.


In addition, they contended that the Music Copyright Society of China is the only institution permitted by the central government to charge fees over the use of music compositions.


Only a few managers agreed that the move would help them reduces their potential risk of being sued by music producers over IPR infringement.


A random survey among ten local citizens showed that none of them thought singing a song deserved one yuan fee.


"We pay for singing in a karaoke bar. It's unfair that we have to pay extra money for each song," said a consumer who only wanted to be identified by her surname Zhou.


"There should be a hearing on the pricing," said another respondent.


Lian Guangsheng, deputy secretary general of an entertainment recreation association in Guangzhou, said it's still premature to implement the plan as a couple of issues remain undecided, such as which government body should be responsible for the charging and how effectively the monitoring system works.


(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2005)

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