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Warner sues karaoke hall for infringement
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-18 22:35

Well-known Hong Kong-based music producer Hong Kong-based Warner took Partyworld(also as Qiangui in Pinyin), a popular karaoke hall in Beijing, to court Thursday for copyright infringement.

Partyworld played three music television (MTV) videos owned by Warner to the public as karaoke to make profits, said the indictment by the Hong Kong company to the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

"But Warner never authorized Partyworld to use the MTV videos," the indictment said.

"The illegal behaviour of the defendant has seriously damaged the plaintiff's interests and resulted in great economic losses," sources with Warner said.

The Hong Kong-based music producer called for compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) from Partyworld.

The plaintiff also asked the court to forbid the broadcasting the products whose copyright is owned by Warner at KTV (karaoke television) halls.

A public apology has also been called for.

No judgment was made Thursday by the court after the first hearing.

The three videos were all performed by Aaron Kwok, a famous Hong Kong singer.

Warner's accusation against the popular KTV hall in Beijing follows moves by music producers to collect fees for MTV videos used in karaoke halls.

Currently, numerous MTV works have been used as karaoke music at KTV halls throughout the country. Most of the KTV halls never paid these fees to the producers.

Warner and another Hong Kong-based music producer, Go East Entertainment, took the lead in suing some KTV halls for copyright infringement late last year.

The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Chunyin KTV in the capital city should pay a compensation of 56,000 yuan (US$6,800) to Go East Entertainment.

Meanwhile, the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court also made a judgment ordering the Beijing China Town KTV to pay a compensation of 38,000 yuan (US$4,600) to Warner.

Forty-nine music companies sent lawyers' letter in April to 12,000 KTV halls throughout the country for fee collection but few KTV hall paid up afterwards.

Sources with KTV have their own opinion on these events.

Sources with Partyworld Entertainment, the defendant of Thursday's case, said all of the proof provided by Warner was invalid.

"Firstly, the plaintiff provided an announcement by the so-called Asian Office of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). But in fact it was only a private announcement," the bill of defence said.

"We do not know whether the so-called Asian Office of IFPI is a legal organization and whether the certificate is made by the office," sources with Partyworld said.

The defendant also claimed IFPI is not qualified to authenticate copyrights in China.

"IFPI was confirmed by the Chinese Government in 1994 as the organ to authorize the rights of sound recording products and the valid period is three years. But now the authorization period has exceeded," the defendant said.

Furthermore, sources with Partyworld said the karaoke discs provided by Warner as proof have not been notarized.

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