China Strengthens Music Copyright Protection

Broadcasting music in various Beijing-based hotels is not free of charge anymore according to a recent agreement between the Chinese Music Copyright Protection Association (CMCPA) and Beijing Traveling Industry Association's Hotel Branch (BTIAHB).

Under the agreement, hotels with three stars or more should pay CMCPA a monthly fee of 1.75 yuan (US$0.21) per bed through BTIAHB for using copyrighted musical works as background music.

Sources with CMCPA said that BTIAHB is the first Chinese industry association paying for using copyrighted music.

Qu Jingming, deputy director-in-chief of CMCPA, said Tuesday that it is an internationally common practice for hotels to disburse fees for utilizing copyrighted musical pieces.

"The public and relevant industries in China still lack the awareness to justify the labor of music copyright holders in monetary forms," said Qu.

China's current Copyright Law does not clearly stipulate requirements for businesses to pay for the copyrighted music, which has left the issue pending for many years, according to Qu.

In 1999, the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) issued an order requesting people or institutions performing copyrighted music for business purposes obtain the approval of copyright holders or render fees to the music copyright administration.

To date, CMCPA has signed agreements on music copyright fees with the Chinese operations of international chain stores such as IKEA, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, sources with CMCPA said.

Many Beijing-based department stores have begun to pay CMCPA a yearly music copyright fee of 210 yuan (US$25.4) per 100 square meters, according to Qu.

To date, CMCPA has tied up with 33 foreign music copyright protection associations, and consented to collect music copyright fees incurred in China before delivering to specific foreign copyright holders.

The music copyright protection institutions are responsible for calculating fees paid to specific copyright holders according to the frequency of the music piece being used on radio and TV, according to internationally accepted practice.

In addition to protecting copyrighted music pieces used in business operations, CMCPA is now dealing with online music copyright protection, he said.

China's Supreme People's Court issued a judicial interpretation in December 2000, stipulating that the Internet service provider (ISP) should be responsible for anonymous Internet content provider (ICP)'s illegal usage of copyrighted music works.

"The judicial explanation and the ongoing revision of China's Copyright Law will lead to a better protection of domestic and foreign music copyrights in China," Qu said.

People's Daily Online ---