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Guangzhou karaoke bars face the music
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08:31, July 15, 2008

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The local liaison office of the China Audio and Video Association here has taken steps to stop KTV bar operators and VOD technology suppliers from using unauthorized music.

The office recently appealed to the city's copyright bureau to take action against suspected bar operators and suppliers.

The bureau has urged two KTV bar operators in the city to take part in an administrative investigation and has joined forces with the municipal cultural market comprehensive execution team and public security bureau to investigate two karaoke VOD suppliers to confiscate their products and business documents.

The KTV bars subject to administrative investigation are Guangzhou Fashion Party KTV and Guangzhou Big Echo KTV, while the two VOD firms are the Guangzhou branches of Shine Multimedia Co Ltd and ThunderStone Technology Ltd, both of which have their headquarters in Beijing.

"The KTV bar owners have not yet approached us for the administrative investigation, and we can't comment too much on the case," Liang Zhengxiang, deputy director of the municipal copyright bureau, said.

As for the case of the KTV VOD technology suppliers, he said the joint action last week found many music products illegally copied for business purposes, and officials confiscated about 20 hard discs, books of accounts and other business records from Sunshine Multimedia's Guangzhou branch.

They also took two servers with a large number of illegally copied songs, which are ready for shipment, at ThunderStone's Guangzhou branch.

"We find ourselves in a very embarrassing position in the investigation of the suspected KTV bars as China's law is very vague in this regard," the official said.

"I don't think the case can be settled very soon."

An official with the China Audio and Video Association's Guangzhou liaison office, who refused to be identified, told China Daily the appeal to the Guangzhou city's copyright bureau marked the first step the association will take against karaoke bar operators who refuse to pay royalty fees in the wake of the action in other provincial capitals.

"The association has entered into an agreement with several law firms in Guangzhou to prepare for civil action against those still reluctant to pay royalties."

In response, Huang Shiqiu, president of the Guangzhou Cultural and Entertainment Industry Association, which represents karaoke operators in Guangzhou, said he wondered why the liaison office had made such a sudden move.

"We have never said we wouldn't pay the royalty fee; what we insist on is the rationality of the payment," Huang said.

Huang said his association is promoting a national karaoke VOD system among its members, which is set for completion in the first half of next year.

"The system will make it easy to calculate how often music products are demanded," he said.

"Royalty charges will be very simple then."

No karaoke bars in Guangzhou have paid royalty fees despite the China Audio and Video Association demanding it for 18 months.

Source: China Daily

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