A Porpourri of Autumn Copyright Developments

spices

Here’s a mix of copyright updates:

On October 13, Tencent and Netease signed a deal for Netease to takes licenses on 1.5 million songs.  Tencent, as I previously reported, has actively been promoting the legitimate use of music on-line.   The current “Sword Net” campaign was is focusing since mid-July on music, and these actions may be a reflection of the campaign’s efforts. Over the summer, NCA had specifically mandated that ISP’s should stop making unauthorized music available on line.  Anecdotally, I have heard that it is getting harder to find illegal music to download.  NCA’s crack-down, including an effort to remove two million songs from the on-line environment was also noted by the media.

Also on October 14, NCA issued new guidance for website service providers (关于规范网盘服务版权秩序的通知), which requires service providers to take proactive measures to screen copyrighted content being uploaded, including for works that have previously been removed, works that are the subject of a notice and takedown, and works specifically listed by NCA.  The rules also require service providers to not provide any support to users to illegally share unauthorized works, and requires users to make a reasonable explanation to service providers if there is abnormal logging-on activity. These rules require something more than responding to notice and take-down requests, and (laudably, in my opinion) appear responsive to the perspective that the late Prof. Guo Shoukang told me, that the obligations set forth in China’s DCMA-type laws and regulations should evolve as technology evolves.

Another important development of late is the formation in September of a sports IP committee under the China Intellectual Property Law Studies Association.  Hopefully, this committee can help spur better protection under China’s IP regime of live sports broadcasts, amongst other sports-related IP issues.

China Online Legitimate Music Copyright Promotion Alliance Established

China Daily and Chinese news services, including Legal Daily, reported that an Online Legitimate Music Promotion Alliance 中国网络正版音乐促进联盟 has been established on January 29, 2015 in Beijing.  The alliance brings together 30 companies and organizations including international music companies such as Sony and Warner, domestic music websites such as Kugou, Kuwo and 1ting and industry associations such like the Music Copyright Society of China and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, as well as songwriters such as Li Haiying 李海鹰.

Tencent which has a licensing arrangement with Warner Music, noted at the ceremony that the sustainable development of the music industry depends on copyright protection.   Tencent urged legal steps, such as model cases to create deterrence, active administrative supervision, increasing damages for infringement, and increasing penalties. Other speakers noted the importance of advertisers working together to curtail placing advertisements on pirated sites, as well as enforcement actions.   Beijing Copyright Bureau’s Wang Yefei 王野霏, a veteran of many copyright enforcement battles, was quoted by the Legal Daily as saying that it was important that “bad money not drive out good money” in copyright, and that the “trying time of walking a fine line in copyright has gone.” (网络音乐领域的版权乱象决不可能容忍它长期存在,一定不会让劣币驱逐良币,试图打擦边球的时代已经一去不复返了).

The Legal Daily article noted that according to the 2014 China Music Development Report (2014年中国音乐产业发展报告) there were 453 million internet music users in China in 2013.  However, according to IFIPI data, total revenue from music in 2013 was about 500 million RMB, (82,600,000 USD), which is only a “several Chinese dimes” per user.

At the January 29 launch event, China’s National Copyright Administration’s Zhao Jie 赵杰 announced that online music and literary works are key areas for enforcement in 2015.  These enforcement efforts build upon China’s existing “Sword Network” campaigns and other administrative actions to deal with on-line piracy.

This alliance also appears to be an important step in bringing together foreign and domestic rightsholders in IP.

Tencent/NBA Ink 5 Year Deal – Expanding Tencent’s Legitimate Content Reach

basketball

While most people were focused on the Alibaba/SAIC controversy last week, the National Basketball Association inked a five year exclusive license with Tencent last week for digital content.

Effective on July 1, Tencent will become the exclusive digital partner of the NBA in China. Tencent will record a number of live NBA games and deliver the programming to its audiences. NBA live games and content will be available for fans to access. Tencent and the NBA will also launch the first-ever NBA League Pass in China, providing fans with access to a full season of live and on-demand NBA games online and via mobile devices.  Tencent and the NBA will also jointly manage and operate the NBA’s digital assets in China, including NBA.com/China and sites for all 30 NBA teams, NBA events, and merchandise. Tencent will also launch the NBA Game Time app on mobile devices.  Lastly, the NBA and Tencent will unveil the NBA Community including an NBA dedicated gaming section within the Tencent Games platform, a more integrated social commerce platform, and a premium subscription service. Tencent will also develop NBA-themed interactive games on its platforms.

The deal comes hot on the heels of another deal that Tencent signed with Warner Music in November.  Hopefully, this latest deal will have the added benefits of putting additional pressure on China to insure that live broadcasting and webcasting of sports games is subject to copyright protection and improving the distribution channels for legitimate NBA merchandise.