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BIC briefs trials on online music-related copyright infringement

english.bjinternetcourt.gov.cn | Updated: 2022-12-16

     

From Sept 9, 2018 to Nov 30, 2022, the Beijing Internet Court (BIC) heard 4,560 cases related to online music copyright infringement, 4,046 of which were concluded within the period, according to a press briefing held by the BIC on Dec 15.

The legal proceedings reflected an improvement in the ecology of the online music market and an attempt to better serve the digital development of the capital's cultural industry.

Most plaintiffs in the cases were licensees and most defendants were platform operators. The case withdrawal rate remained at a comparatively high level.

Main features

The infringement patterns are diversified. There are six main forms: online music platforms disseminating unauthorized songs, live streaming hosts singing unauthorized songs or playing them as background music during the live streaming session or in the production of short videos, music material platforms providing ringtone downloading and accompanying music without authorization, online karaoke platforms providing karaoke services without authorization, and built-in software of smart devices providing unauthorized playable songs. 

Another feature of such cases was the strong intention of litigants in mediation. "That is why we have been committed to litigation source governance and actively resolve online music copyright dispute from the origin. We are trying to balance the interests of creators and users in the shortest time and the most effective manner," said Zhao Changxin, presiding judge of the BIC's Case-filing Division at the briefing. The withdrawal rate of online music copyright cases remained at about 80 percent for three consecutive years from 2019 to 2021, according to him.

Reinforce judicial protection over online music copyright

The fundamental ruling direction of the BIC in handling online-music-related copyright cases is to fully protect the rights and interests of the copyright holder and those of related rights holders, and to balance the interests of creators, disseminators, platform operators and the general public.

Judicial procedures need to be based on the development needs of the online music industry, according to Zhao, who also introduced the BIC's judgment principles for such cases. To protect the originality of online music, the BIC accurately applies the presumption of signature and preponderance of evidence. It clearly defines the ways of infringement by online users so as to curb the spread of such typical infringement. It also strives to resolutely contain the infringement in the fields of live streaming and short-videos, while seeking a dynamic balance between copyright protection and platform economic development.

Suggestions

To properly resolve online music-related disputes, the BIC has worked to further expand litigation source governance based on the existing municipal administrative and judicial coordination mechanism for copyright protection, and pooled forces of all relevant parties to participate in resolving such disputes in a bid to improve the quality and efficacy of dispute resolution. It also recommends that related administrative departments reinforce publicity and expand certification paths in order to effectively solve the massive need for licensing in cyberspace.

As for platform operators, they are advised to proactively approach the online music licensing bodies and record companies to get volume licensing and intensify the technical protection of music copyright. 

Six typical cases on this aspect were released at the media briefing.