The China Audio-video Copyright Association (CAVCA) filed lawsuits at seven courts in Beijing on Friday against 100 Beijing-based karaoke bar operators refusing to pay royalties for songs and MTV videos they used.
On the list were popular bars including Tongyishouge and Huayangnianhua, the association said.
The CAVCA, which is responsible for charging karaoke bars, began to send notices to Beijing-based bars on September 27. It urged them to pay the royalties before October 10 and warned of legal actions if they failed to meet the deadline.
The association hoped the move could urge wavering karaoke bar operators to make the payment as soon as possible.
"Operators refusing to pay royalties would not only pay for using the products but also for their infringement on copyright," said the association's director-general Wang Huapeng.
The association didn't rule out the possibility of further legal actions against other Beijing-based karaoke bar operators.
At present, only about 10 operators out of more than 1,000 Beijing-based karaoke bars paid royalties for the copyrighted audio-video products they used. The figure stood at about 1,000 nationwide, according to the association.
Last year, 15 provincial-level areas, including Beijing and Guangdong, decided to collect karaoke copyright royalties. The practice has been spreading nationwide.
Karaoke operators must pay a daily charge of up to 12 yuan ($1.76) for each karaoke room -- less in underdeveloped regions -- for the use of musical and video products, according to a National Copyright Administration notice issued in November 2006.
The royalty in Beijing was set at 11 yuan at the beginning of this year, the second highest in the country compared with the highest 11.1 yuan in Shanghai and the lowest 8.1 yuan in northwestern Gansu Province.
Chinese karaoke operators have enjoyed free access to songs and MTV videos without paying royalties for more than 20 years.
The country has an estimated 100,000 karaoke establishments -- each with an average of 10 rooms -- collectively generating almost 1 billion yuan ($146.5 million) in turnover annually.