China moves to control online music industry

September 10, 2009 by Marianne Barriaux
Customers use their laptop computers at a wireless cafe in Beijing. China has announced that all songs posted on music websites must receive prior approval and foreign lyrics must be translated into Chinese, in a new push to control online content.

China has announced that all songs posted on music websites must receive prior approval and foreign lyrics must be translated into Chinese, in a new push to control online content.

The culture ministry says the rules are designed to step up regulation of the Internet, curb rampant piracy and protect intellectual property rights, but experts say they will be difficult to implement.

"If there are thousands of websites that provide content, how can a single government check all of the content in just a few months?" said Liu Ning, an analyst with Beijing-based high-tech consultancy BDA.

The official Global Times said Thursday that music providers would have to submit songs for approval by December 31, at which date the new rules go into effect.

They would also have to translate the lyrics of foreign songs into Chinese, the report said.

In a statement sent to AFP, the ministry said the rules were necessary "to regulate the transmission of cultural information, guarantee the safety of the nation's culture, and regulate public ethics."

It said information that violated public morality or spread pornography and violence "continuously appeared" online, "seriously damaging the healthy development of China's online cultural market."

has at least 338 million Internet users, more than any other country in the world.

The government regularly blocks online content it deems unhealthy, which includes pornography and violence, but also information critical of the government, a censorship system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China."

Liu said the rules were an extension of requirements already in place for the offline music industry, which has to submit foreign albums to the government for prior approval. The same regulations apply for foreign films.

"In recent years, the has put more effort into online content censorship as some emerging applications like are getting more and more popular with Internet users," he said.

According to the ministry's guidelines, the rules also aim to "strengthen the protection of , and to increase the market share of legal businesses and legal music products."

Online music providers will be required to get a special licence from the culture ministry.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says up to 99 percent of all music downloads in China are illegal, costing record companies billions of dollars in lost revenue annually.

But it was unclear how effectively the ministry would be able to fight piracy with the new rules.

"A lot of illegal content providers or websites may not follow the notice and continue their illegal services," Liu said, pointing out the new rules would create a lot of additional work for music providers.

A culture ministry spokesman told the Global Times that there would be a three-day "fast-track" system to gain permission to upload songs to the websites.

He also said content generated by Internet users -- including songs composed, recorded or uploaded by individuals -- would not have to go through the censorship process, according to the report.

Baidu, the search engine that has long been criticised for posting links to websites offering pirated music, welcomed the new rules.

"We believe that a more standardised environment for digital music will benefit music content providers, Internet users and Internet companies alike," it said in a statement emailed to AFP.

Mathew Daniel, vice president of Beijing-based online distributor R2G, was also upbeat about the new requirements.

"If it levels the playing field in some way, then it's worth doing," he told AFP.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Baidu decision a win for IPR

Related Stories

Baidu decision a win for IPR

July 21, 2005

Intellectual-property rights scored a small victory Wednesday when state media reported, a Chinese search engine, agreed to remove links to sites selling pirated music.

Google, music labels launch China download service

March 30, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. and major music companies launched a free Internet music download service for China on Monday in a bid to help turn a field dominated by pirates into a profitable, legitimate business.

China slams Google over porn

June 18, 2009

China stepped up its war on Internet censorship Thursday, slamming Google China for allowing pornographic content to seep into the nation and threatening to punish the search engine.

China to stick to controversial software rule

June 23, 2009

China will not back away from a new rule requiring that Internet filtering software be shipped with all computers sold in the country despite heavy criticism of the plan, state media has said.

China to appeal WTO ruling on book, movie imports

August 17, 2009

(AP) -- China will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling that ordered it to ease restrictions on imports of movies, music and books in a case brought by Washington, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said Monday.

Recommended for you

Roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

December 1, 2015

Babies learn about the world by exploring how their bodies move in space, grabbing toys, pushing things off tables and by watching and imitating what adults are doing.

Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision

December 1, 2015

With the aim of producing high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure, particularly in children, researchers have developed a new approach to imaging patients. Surprisingly, the new technology isn't a high-tech, high-dollar ...

Making 3-D imaging 1,000 times better

December 1, 2015

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting the polarization of light—the physical phenomenon behind polarized sunglasses and most 3-D movie systems—they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.