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Opinion: Charging IPR fees a right move
( 2002-10-11 09:29 ) (1 )

It has been reported that from Wednesday public places in Beijing that provide background music will pay royalties to the Music Copyright Society of China, which will distribute them to the performers, writers and composers involved.

Not all public venues will be charged. Only establishments such as restaurants, hotels and airlines that play background music during business operations will be required to pay. Fee calculations will vary based on the industry. For example, night clubs and discotheques will be charged based on floor space and airlines on the number of flights.

Royalties on foreign musical works will be transferred to original writers, composers and performers through international performing rights organizations.

In fact, this is not first time that fees will be collected for background music. International restaurant and hotel chains, such as McDonald's and big hotels in Beijing started paying royalties for background music several years ago.

Nonetheless, this comprehensive licensing move is obviously a big step forward in the protection of intellectual property rights of publicly performed music.

The move is to be lauded, as it sends a clear message that original works by song writers and composers will not only be respected but also valued and rewarded in a fairer way.

Also, it will serve as an economic incentive to stimulate the creativity of music writers to create more and better pieces of music.

And such collective licensing through an authorized organization is necessary and efficient, as it is virtually impossible for individual authors to collect royalties themselves.

And the positive results do not stop with the music sector.

The comprehensive licensing will heighten public awareness of the need to protect intellectual property rights and promote the spirit of creativity in a market economy.

The measure is in line with the stipulations of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Thus it will further improve the country's image in the global community.

Such a move in Beijing, the nation's capital, is significant in that the campaign to protect and promote intellectual property rights should be a national one. More cities and areas should join the trend.

However, to make such a practice uniformly fair will require effective monitoring of music usage and careful deliberation as to how to charge the fees to ensure a fair remuneration is given to copyright holders and that not too heavy a burden is placed on businesses, which could discourage the provision of such music services.



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