HA NOI — Many television channels in Viet Nam used foreign songs without paying a copyright fee, reported the Viet Nam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC).
|Out of tune: Judges on the high-rated TV show The Voice, which used foreign songs without paying copyright fees. — File Photo
Since the beginning of 2011, the centre received many statistical lists sent by centres for copyright protection abroad which mentioned many songs used without copyright, according to lawyer Pham Thanh Thuy from the VCPMC.
"We signed bilateral agreements with the foreign centres to protect authors' rights," Thuy said. "So we have to protect the copyrights of songs performed in Viet Nam just as they protect Vietnamese songs performed in their countries."
"Many English, American and South Korean songs are presented on Vietnamese television channels but their authors haven't been paid," she said. "According to statistics, many TV shows which are in vogue such as The Voice, Just the Two of Us, Dancing with the Stars and Viet Nam's Got Talent rely on foreign songs even though Viet Nam Television (VTV) hasn't purchased the rights to them."
Until now, HCM City Television has been the only organisation which pays for foreign songs performed on its channels.
"Vietnamese and foreign songs cost the same amount: VND300,000 (US$14) for songs presented at sponsored shows and VND100,000 for other shows," Thuy said.
Nguyen Ha Nam, head of VTV's editorial secretariat, said the VTV was one of several leading organisations who were active in protecting composers' copyrights. But for foreign songs, "we haven't paid their authors because it's not easy to contact foreign composers", he explained.
"The issue of how - and how much - to pay foreign authors hasn't been considered until now," he said.
Protecting composers' rights and collecting money from copyrights are urgent problems in the Vietnamese music market. "Not many people have responsibility and awareness for the work," said composer Nguyen Trong Tao.
Singers and composers have to rely on each other to bring songs to the public, but the fact is that when singers perform, they are paid while composers are ignored.
"It's not easy to manage and collect money from all singers," Tao said. "They violate copyrights and don't pay personal income taxes to the State."
Last year, the VCPMC collected VND41 billion (nearly $2 million) from performing activities, karaoke, music downloads and online music, an increase of 27 per cent in comparison with the year 2010. — VNS