Vietnam made great strides in ensuring that more copyright fees were paid last year, but the country still hasn’t moved far enough, according to the Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyrights.
The center collected VND23.3 billion (US$1.3 million) in music royalties last year – an impressive number compared with VND15 billion in 2008 and VND80 million in 2002, when the center was established.
But music copyright violations were still popular as only 10-15 percent of restaurants, hotels, karaoke lounges, discotheques, night clubs, record stores and websites had paid royalties for copyrighted music they used, the center said.
“We’ve sent notes to these businesses many times, asking them to pay music copyright fees, but only a few have paid,” said Dinh Trung Can, deputy director of the center.
Many four- and five-star hotels like Windsor, Equatorial, Sofitel Plaza didn’t even respond to the center’s request. Popular supermarkets like Vinatex, Super Bowl, and Fivimart didn’t, either.
Meanwhile, many well-known entertainment spots like Suoi Tien Park, Dam Sen Park, Dong Phuong Restaurant, Nice Karaoke Lounge, Soi Da CafÃ©, and Phuong Dong
Nightclub also failed to pay the music copyright fees, said Can.
Musicians who collect music copyright fees on their own instead of through the center also admitted copyright violations were rampant.
Singer and musician Ho Quynh Huong said that some companies had contacted her company DiamondNoir to ask for permission to use her music on the internet last year.
“While several firms did actually discuss this with us, others use my music for free. This creates unfair competition because some have to pay royalties while others use songs illegally and don’t pay,” she said.
Musician Nguyen Hong Thuan told a local newspaper that royalties were a matter of luck for musicians in Vietnam.
“In foreign countries, a musician can live on several famous songs but it is entirely different in Vietnam,” said Thuan. “Even Vietnamese musicians with several well-known songs still have to write new songs all the time to make a living. They live by selling new songs, not royalties.”
Research conducted last year by Professor Koji Domon from Japan’s University of Waseda showed that the copyright infringement rate in Vietnam was still the highest in the world, at 82 percent.
Can from the center said his organization would send a list of firms violating music copyright regulations to Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s inspectors soon.
He also said the center was collecting data to transfer violations to attorneys to file lawsuits.
Since the center’s establishment eight years ago, it has collected nearly VND55 billion ($2.9 million) in copyright fees to repay to original authors, director Pho Duc Phuong noted.
The center aims to collect VND30 billion ($1.6 million) in music royalties this year, he said.
Can said it would give priority to the collection of copyright fees at karaoke rooms this year.
Also from this year, the center would cut down its copyright fee collection charges from 25 percent to 20 percent in the fields of performance, ringtones, and online music, according to the center.
The charges for the fields of recording and books would be 5 percent and 15 percent respectively, while others would remain 25 percent, the center said.