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China to Unify KTV System
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The Chinese government is to create a unified karaoke system to block public access to "unhealthy songs" and stop the infringement of intellectual property rights, a cultural official said Wednesday.

"The system contains a list of songs that are copyright approved and it can record how many times a song is ordered, indicating how much copyright-holders should be paid," said Liang Gang, the official with the Ministry of Culture.

Every song will be legally authorized and in line with "relevant standards", he said.

The system, due to go into trial operations in karaoke bars in Wuhan, Zhengzhou and Qingdao this year, will protect the rights of copyright holders, Liang said.

Karaoke service has increasingly triggered disputes between copyright holders and bar operators for copyright infringement since it caught on in China in the mid-1980s.

"Strictly speaking, no karaoke bar gets songs legally now in China. It's impossible for a single bar to obtain the copyright of all songs," the official said.

Each bar would be connected to the system without charge, but operators would be charged for each song downloaded, he added.

Liang said, karaoke is spreading some "overseas songs with unhealthy content" in China as well as enriching the lives of Chinese people. He did not provide an example of a song with "unhealthy content."

The system is aimed at strengthening the administration of karaoke parlors and benefiting every sector of the music recording industry, the official said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2006)

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