Monday 19 November 2007

A world where music isn't protected by copyright? Don't try it, it's already been done . .

Some writers have been tempted to paint rosy pictures of a much fairer world where copyright doesn't exist. The fact is that there are countries in the world which have flourishing music industries but lack real copyright enforcement, and the situation is not exactly a rosy one. China's music industry has a full pantheon of pop stars who are recognisable by Chinese folk old and young, there are few people in the middle kingdom who can't catawall their way through at least a handfull of songs written over the last fifteen years.

These stars, however, make practically nothing from record sales as genuine CDs are almost impossible to find. Despite government propaganda which regularly trumpets the latest victory against piracy, large pirate CD/DVD stores can be found even in central areas of Beijing and Shanghai.

So how do stars like Jay Chou make their money? Quite simple: fame can be manufactured and sold just like any other commodity, music is simply incidental to this. Jay Chou's face can be seen on packets of everything from Meng Niu brand yoghurt to crisps, as can the mugs of (terrible boy band) F4 and ABC ultra-star Wang Li Hong.

The only problem is that the quality of the music suffers, as artists cannot simply make money directly from selling music except via ticket sales.

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