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December 24, 2009

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Karaoke bar closed for royalty infractions

A KARAOKE bar in Taiyuan, capital of northern Shanxi Province, yesterday became the first in the country to be closed over copyright infringements as police sealed its front door.

China Audio Media Co Ltd sued Fumanlou Karaoke Bar for playing more than 30 songs of the company without paying royalties in March.

The Intermediate People's Court of Taiyuan ruled that the bar should pay 2,500 yuan (US$367.60) in damages for each song on July 20, said Shi Xia, the media firm's lawyer.

The bar ignored the verdict so the court closed the karaoke bar upon the request of the company, Shi said.

The owner of Fumanlou, which has more than 90 rooms, declined to comment.

Lu Wenjun, deputy executive director of the China Audio & Video Association, said Fumanlou was the first karaoke bar closed by a court since it started to take actions against music copyright infringements in 2007.

China Audio Media is one of the 520 members of the CAVA, an industrial association that works on protecting its members' rights.

The closure breaks new ground for the enforcement of karaoke copyright protection, especially on how to deal with bars that have deliberately ignored the law and refused to pay royalties, said Jiang Zhipei, vice chairman of the Copyright Society of China.

Jiang said this could be an example for others to follow.

Bar operators must pay a daily 12 yuan for each karaoke room - less in underdeveloped regions - for the use of musical and video products, according to the National Copyright Administration.

China has about 100,000 karaoke establishments.


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