MusicDish e-Journal - February 17, 2018
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peermusic And Hamshore Tang Win Lawsuit Against Chinese Label YY
Chinese Court ruled that YY should immediately cease the infringement of the work's mechanical, performance and digital rights
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2017-03-08
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Global independent music publisher peermusic won a copyright infringement case against major Chinese label YY in the Tianhe District Court in Guangzhou. The suit was brought against YY by peermusic on behalf of their Chinese songwriter Hamshore Tang, who wrote 煙火 (English translation: Firework) in 2014. The judge ruled that YY should immediately cease the infringement of the work's mechanical, performance and digital rights. The judge awarded damages and legal fees to peermusic and Tang.

Tang pitched Firework to YY for their girl group 1931 soon after writing it. However, Tang maintains that YY never indicated they wanted to license the work, so after a year peermusic began to pitch the song to other labels. As a result of peermusic's work, the label Asiamuse Music decided to release the song, recorded by their artist Sara Liu. Asiamuse Music licensed the work with peermusic prior to the release and made it available on a variety of digital platforms. The song won Sara Liu the Mandarin Song Award at The 2016 King of Jin festival.

Concurrent with the Sara Liu release on Asiamuse, 1931 also released their version of the song through their deal with YY. When peermusic contacted YY indicating they did not have a license to release the work and therefore they should stop using it, YY ignored the warnings. Rumors spread on the Internet that Sara Liu had plagiarized 1931's song, when in fact 1931 did not have the rights to release the work themselves.

Shanghai-based Tang, the hit songwriter of works recorded by Eason Chan and the theme of Wong Kar Wai's new movie See You Tomorrow, commented, "The court judgement shows that the problem of copyright in China is getting more attention. Writers like me put passion into creating our songs and our hard work is lost if the songs are used illegally."

peermusic's Managing Director for SE Asia, Flora Yip, commented, "This is really encouraging to me. After many years of dealing with illegal uses in China, this is the first time in my experience that a copyright owner has won a case and received reasonable damages through the courts rather than having to settle for lower damages outside the court system. I hope this will become a precedent for the future. As a music publisher, it is our obligation to protect the copyright interests of our writers.

"Hamshore was one of the first writers we signed in Mainland China," commented Mary Megan Peer, peermusic's Deputy CEO. "It has been wonderful to see his growth as a writer in coincide with the increased focus on copyright protection in his domestic market. We hope that court decisions like this one will continue to increase the size of the legal music market in China, allowing our writers successful careers in this market."

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