Copyright, Social Network Markets and the Business of Culture in a Digital Age
Chapter 4: China’s Music Industry: Space to Grow
INTRODUCTION In 2006, the CEO of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), John Kennedy, addressed the International Forum on the Audio Visual Industry in Shanghai, stating: ‘Illegal sales of music in China are valued by [the] IFPI at around US$400 million, with around 90 per cent of all recordings being illegal. No creative or knowledge-based industry can hope to survive in such an environment’ (Kennedy 2006). Recording industry lobbies such as the IFPI and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have been engaged in high-profile campaigns against copyright infringement in China since the early 1990s (Wang 2003). It would be a truism to state that the intellectual property businesses that these groups represent have been frustrated by their inability to function effectively in the face of China’s weak copyright environment. In spite of John Kennedy’s lament that high rates of unauthorized copying and distribution make it impossible for businesses to survive, some creative and knowledge-based businesses are making money in China. While John Kennedy and the IFPI were earnestly calling on China’s authorities to increase levels of enforcement in order to make it possible for a commercially focused music industry to develop, in 2006 the chairman of the Chinese Audio-Visual Society declared that the nation had ‘leapfrogged into an age of digital music’, noting that digital distribution was outperforming traditional record sales, generating profits of 3.6 billion yuan in 2005, compared to just 2.7 billion yuan in the ‘best year’ of physical music sales in China (Sun...
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