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The Ministry of Culture Issues New Online Music Policy

4 Sep 2009

Source: Ministry of Culture Press Release translated by R2G

The Ministry of Culture issued the “Notification from the Ministry of Culture on strengthening and improving the review of online music content” policy on Aug 26th2009. This notification aims to solve several outstanding issues - for example, there are many instances of negative online music content including undesirable imported online music, piracy, illegal links and a lack of management of market behavior and order in the online music market. So we are specifying the following:
1. Definition and scope of online music.
This notification points out that online music is defined as music products that are transmitted by information networks such as the internet, mobile communication networks, fixed communication networks via digital formats, including not only the usual definitions of music but also other forms of digital music products including music videos, Flash and others which are provided with video frames accompanied by the performance of music.

2. To innovate methods and enhance efficiency for the review of online music
We import advanced technology to streamline auditing processes and develop an ”online music auditing system for the Ministry of Culture.” Business entities can download the auditing software system and submit applications for direct auditing for their music products via the internet. The Ministry of Culture’s content auditing department will examine and approve via the internet too, which will enable the entire process to be networked. At the same time, we are also setting up a “fast-track channel” auditing function. We can complete the entire process in 3 working days for music products which have special timing requirements such as labels that need to release their music contents synchronously. This will enhance the auditing efficiency and save time and costs for the business entities.

3. To strengthen the management and auditing of importers of online music.
This notification points out that all who carry out activities related to online music products have to be “Online Cultural Businesses” approved by the Ministry of Culture. Only those business entities which have gotten the exclusive license of Digital Network Dissemination Rights are qualified to seek approval. This notification also clarifies that online music operating activities include online music production, release, dissemination (including the provision of links to music content products) and importing.

4. To regulate the trading rules for importing online music.
We are making a series of regulations for online music import contract/ agreements. For example, the authorization period for the import of online music should be more than one year. The contract/ agreement will be titled the Right of Digital Network Dissemination for music products. This contract/ agreement can only be enforced when its contents get approved by the Ministry of Culture. Online music products from HK, Macau and Taiwan are also subject to these audit regulations.

5. To enhance the management of music search services.
This notification states clearly that the “Dissemination and Provision of Music Product links” is an online music business behavior which only can be carried out by “Online Cultural Businesses” which have been established with the approval of the Ministry of Culture. These business entities should ensure that they are disseminating music products which have been audited by the Ministry of Culture and given subsequent approval.

6. To strengthen online music intellectual property protection.
This notification will seek to improve auditing efficiency to not only provide convenient and efficient services for approved enterprises’ legitimate business, while the Ministry of Culture will  monitor and investigate other business entities which carry out illegal online music operations or provide unlicensed online music products.   

In addition, this notification calls for online music business entities to set up an internal online music contents auditing system. The Ministry of Culture does not vet online music contents which are created and performed by individual netizens. But it is the responsibility of business entities to check and ensure that online music contents they disseminate are legitimate. All existing imported online music products which are disseminated in China without the appropriate audit approvals should be submitted to the Ministry of Culture by Dec 31st, 2009.
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