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China closes first Karaoke bar over copyright infringement

Updated: 2009-12-24 14:00
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A Karaoke bar in Taiyuan, capital of northern Shanxi province, became the first to be closed over copyright infringement as court police sealed its front door Wednesday.

China Audio Media Company sued Fumanlou Karaoke Bar for playing more than 30 songs of the company without paying royalties in March. The People's Intermediate Court of Taiyuan ruled that the Karaoke bar should pay 2,500 yuan ($367.6) in damages for each song on July 20, said Shi Xia, the media company's lawyer.

The Fumanlou turned a deaf ear at the verdict so the court closed the karaoke bar upon the request of China Audio Media Company, Shi added.

The owner of Fumanlou, which has more than 90 rooms, declined to comment on the closure.

Lv Wenjun, deputy executive director of China Audio & Video Association (CAVA), told Xinhua that Fumanlou is the first Karaoke bar closed by the court since the association started to take actions against music copyright infringement in 2007.

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China Audio Media Company is one of the 520 members of CAVA, an industrial association that works on protecting its members' rights.

The closure provides new experience for the enforcement of karaoke copyrights protection, especially on how to deal with bars who have been deliberately ignoring the law and refusing to pay the royalties, said Jiang Zhipei, vice chairman of Copyright Society of China.

Jiang said this could be an example for others to follow in curbing piracy and contempt of law in certain sectors.

Karaoke operators must pay a daily charge of 12 yuan ($1.70) 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.

China has an estimated 100,000 karaoke establishments -- each with an average of 10 private rooms -- generating almost 1 billion yuan in turnover annually.