The Wall Street Journal reports that China’s Ministry of Culture has set out to conduct a massive clean up of what it claims on its website are problems with ”the intermingling of good and bad content,” “the large quantity of imported music without approval,” plus copyright violations and a ”lack of supervision and regulation over market behavior.”
Here’s the 100-word version of Beijing-based WSJ journo Loretta Chao’s report:
The government already censors imported movies and books, and vets set lists for foreign bands that play concerts here like the Rolling Stones. The rule, issued late Thursday, sets up what could be an enormous bureaucratic task. It requires that all music from outside China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, must be submitted to the ministry by the end of the year. Online music distributors will be required to provide written lyrics for each song, translated into Chinese, and documents to prove they aren’t infringing on intellectual property rights, the ministry notice said. In addition, companies wishing to provide music download services will be required to apply for an Internet culture license to do so.
Wait wait, go back: What Rolling Stones lyrics got censored? From a 2006 AP story:
The Stones were told not to sing five of their songs, apparently because of their suggestive lyrics. The songs were believed to be “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Beast of Burden,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Rough Justice.” But “Start Me Up” slipped through.
The Ministry of Culture ‘s decree will affect Google, Baidu and many other sites that provide music search in China. A Baidu spokeswoman told Chao, ”We believe that a more standardized environment for digital music will benefit music content providers, Internet users and Internet companies alike.” Translation: OMG OMG OMG you guys are going to have to pay us for music, all 338 million of you.