Report: China tightens rules for online music providers

The Chinese government wants more control over the online distribution of foreign songs

China's Ministry of Culture has implemented a new set of rules governing the online sale and distribution of foreign songs in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Online music sites, as well as search engines that provide links to songs, will have to obtain approval from the Chinese government for songs recorded outside the country, according to the newspaper.

Among the big Internet companies that will have to comply with the new rules are Google, Baidu and Alibaba, which represents the Yahoo brand in China.

The Ministry of Culture said in a statement that the new rules are necessary to weed out "bad content," a large amount of unapproved imported music and copyright violations, as well as to establish more supervision and regulation over the market, according to the Journal.

Online music providers will have to submit to the Ministry of Culture the lyrics of each foreign song, translated into Chinese, along with evidence proving they have permission from the copyright owners to sell and distribute the songs, the Journal reported.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is skeptical about how effective the new rules will be in curbing China's rampant online music piracy, especially if the rules are only applied to legitimate providers, the organization said in a statement sent to IDG News Service via e-mail.

"We understand that China has particular sensitivities about the distribution of content, but introducing new controls on the legitimate delivery of music will do little to address these sensitivities," Neil Turkewitz, the RIAA's Executive Vice President, International, said in the statement.

"At present, an estimated 99 percent of the online music accessed by Chinese users is infringing. Hopefully these new regulations will be applied to all services that provide access to music, and not only to the few legitimate services that are providing legal materials," Turkewitz said.

China should apply and implement these regulations in a careful manner, so that they target copyright violators and don't become a burden to legitimate providers, he said.

Neither Google, Yahoo, Baidu, Alibaba nor the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry immediately replied to requests for comment on Saturday from IDG News Service.

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