Universal Music Publishing is taking its online copyright protection efforts into the piracy hotbed of China.
Under an agreement signed yesterday, the record label will use Chinese firm R2G to track digital music sales in the mainland, as well as crack down on unauthorized Web sites that are offering its songs for downloads.
Beijing-based R2G specializes in software tools that comb through major portals and search engines in China to uncover instances of copyright violations. The company also provides billing and accounting applications for licensed online music distributors to monitor download statistics and determine royalties payable to music labels. The firm's antipiracy measures have already received backing from government bodies like the Copyright Society of China and the Copyright Protection Center of China.
As part of the deal, Universal will register a catalog of songs with R2G. These tracks will be monitored for piracy and infringing sites can be referred to Universal for possible legal action.
"There has been a number of instances where retailers--some of them major Web sites in China--have been warned about the existence of unlicensed content on their Web sites and they have promptly agreed to take it down," Matthew Daniel, R2G's director of business development, told CNETAsia.
"This shows that litigation is not the only solution," he added, emphasizing the effectiveness of such software in deterring illegal music downloads.
According to a recent survey by local authorities, there are over 100 million Internet users in China and close to 80 percent of them have downloaded songs from the Web. Market watchers estimate there are around 7,200 music download portals in the country, but only a fraction of them are legitimate sites with the necessary copyright licenses.