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June 9, 2011

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Hotel music copyright fight

A FIVE-STAR hotel was accused of copyright infringement at a court hearing yesterday for not paying royalties to the owners of classic music works it used as background music.

The China Music Copyright Society is seeking 68,000 yuan (US$10,494) in compensation from the Okura Garden Hotel on Maoming Road S.

The society said the hotel had played several classic Chinese music works, including Butterfly Lovers, as background music in its restaurants, bar, banquet halls, commercial center and rooms without any authorization or paying any royalties since it opened in 1990.

The society had negotiated with the hotel, but management refused to sign an authorization contract, the Luwan District People's Court heard.

In 2009, the society asked notaries to record the infringement and recently sued for compensation of 68,000 yuan (US$10,484) after negotiations failed.

The Shanghai Tourism Trade Association also attended yesterday's hearing as the third party.

The association signed an agreement with the society at the end of 2008, promising that its members would pay royalties according to star rankings if they used music works managed by the society.

Okura Garden Hotel, as a five-star hotel, should pay 6,000 yuan in royalties every year. The association told the hotel to pay the royalties.

The hotel admitted not paying royalties according to the agreement. But its attorney said the time limit to submit a request in 2009 had passed.

The court didn't return verdict after the hearing.


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