Music industry

China’s push to end market monopoly targets music industry

Chinese copyright regulators have banned digital music platforms from signing exclusive copyright licensing agreements except in special circumstances as the country tightens its grip on the market monopoly.

China’s National Copyright Administration said on Thursday that the new rule was developed as a result of “complicated copyright issues involving musical works” and to “promote good copyright ecology. digital music “. The authority, however, did not say whether the move was part of the broader antitrust crackdown.

The move comes six years after Chinese authorities banned digital music platforms from distributing unlicensed songs for infringement of intellectual property rights, which led to streaming platforms – including those owned by tech giant Tencent and NetEase – to acquire exclusive music rights to retain existing users and attract new consumers. The three popular streaming platforms operated by Tencent – QQ Music, KuGou Music and Kuwo Music – hold more than 80% of the music library’s exclusive resources, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

“In today’s digital music industry, owning more copyrights means having more songs on (the company’s) platform,” Zhao Zhigong, a lawyer, told Sixth Tone. Shanghai-based copyright specialist. “And consumers would only visit platforms where they have a lot of choice. Those who have enormous capital to buy copyright have monopoly power.

Amid central government efforts to crack down on monopoly behavior last year, authorities in July ordered Tencent to renounce its exclusive music licensing deals with music labels and fined the company 500,000 yuan. ($ 77,150). The following month, Tencent announced that it had complied with authorities and granted license rights to record companies, although some artists are still only found on Tencent’s music platforms.

Some legal experts believe that if the ban on music platforms signing exclusive deals with artists and labels indicates their push for antitrust regulation, authorities should also amend related laws to include new provisions.

“As the law has not been changed, the authorities should intervene frequently according to market trends in order to prevent monopolies,” Xu Xinming, intellectual property lawyer at Beijing Mingtai law firm, told Sixth Tone, referring to the recently amended copyright law. which entered into force last June. “The ultimate goal is to achieve a highly self-controlled market as well as a balance of interests of all parties.”

Publisher: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: IC)