Sony sings tough song in copyright row
The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court held a hearing Monday on a dispute over the playing of MTV songs in a popular Karaoke bar, with Sony Music suing the Karaoke operator.
It is believed to be the first case of its kind in Shanghai, court officials said.
Sony's lawyers are asking for compensation of 350,000 yuan (US$42,300), including 300,000 yuan (US$36,300) in economic damages, with the remainder awarded as legal fees.
Sony Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd claims that it discovered in March of last year that an outlet of Cashbox, one of the most favoured Karaoke bars in the city, was playing three MTV songs manufactured by the company.
"The three songs were sung by Leon Lai," said Weng Cailin, a lawyer for the Sony. "Yet, the Karaoke did not get Sony's approval to play the music."
According to Guo Chunfei, another lawyer for Sony, most MTV pieces used in Karaoke in many cities do not get approvals from record companies.
The defendant said it had signed an agreement with the Music Copyright Society of China for the music's use
"The society is an organization for composers and lyricists, but not record companies," said Weng.
Mao Huigang, an attorney for the karoake outlet, said the record company just plays a role in spreading the music, and does not enjoy a copyright protection on the songs.
A local court in Beijing handled a similar case when Warner Music sued a Karaoke club last year, and ordered the defendant to pay 23,000 yuan (US$2,780) as compensation to the music studio.