China’s copyright authorities have said that digital music platforms are not allowed to sign exclusive copyright agreements except in special circumstances, amid a regulatory crackdown on monopolistic behavior across the country’s private sector.
The National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) gave the order on Thursday at a meeting in Beijing with influential digital music platforms, as well as record and songwriting copyright companies, according to a statement published on the NCAC’s official WeChat account. The administration requires all parties in the digital music industry to abide by copyright laws and regulations, resist all infringement of music copyright, and cooperate with national supervision.
The authorities emphasized that all digital music platforms should settle payment according to a guaranteed sum, plus a share of actual usage, and should not sign exclusive copyright agreements except under special circumstances.
In addition, platforms should improve the internal copyright management system to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of copyright owners. Negotiation is a better way to resolve copyright disputes between all parties in the digital music industry.
Participants indicated that they will strictly implement the requirements, further improve the digital music licensing and business models, and promote the healthy development of China’s digital music market.
The meeting represents another strong regulatory development for the country’s digital music industry. Tencent announced it had ended all exclusive music copyright agreements after it was ordered by China’s market regulator to do so in July 2021.
QQ Music, NetEase Cloud Music and other leading Chinese digital streaming platforms have competed in the realm of music copyright for many years. Platforms that obtain exclusive copyright need to bear high costs, while platforms that lack copyright have to face the loss of users. The copyright competition also makes it difficult to match the actual benefits of songs with the production cost.