US Objects To Chinese Music Download Restrictions
The United States wants to discuss Chinese rules on music downloading and cinema rights that appear to discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films in a WTO complaint. Hollywood studios and U.S. Internet music providers such as Apple’s iTunes store could be among the groups that suffer from “less favorable distribution opportunities” for imported films and foreign suppliers of music recordings in China, which the U.S. cited in a World Trade Organization request earlier this week.
Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said the issues would be addressed as part of an ongoing WTO complaint over restrictions on the sale of American movies, music and books.
“Music from foreign sources needs to undergo content review before being distributed in China. Chinese music doesn’t have to face that process,” Norton revealed. “The review delays Chinese Internet providers and Chinese consumers from accessing foreign music.”
The same discrimination exists when Chinese consumers seek to download music onto mobile phones, he said. The problem for American music providers is compounded by rules that prevent foreign companies from owning or investing in businesses that distribute music over the Internet in China.
Beijing, the U.S. said, also employs various means to give an advantage to Chinese films over foreign ones in the country’s cinemas. “Imported films can be distributed within China only by two entities and only on a nationwide basis,” the statement said. Chinese films, by contrast, are not limited to two distribution companies and can also release their films nationally, provincially or locally, it added.
The U.S. request triggers a 60-day consultation period during which trade negotiators from both countries will try to resolve their disagreements. If that fails, the U.S. will include the issues in its overall complaint on media distribution rules, Norton said.