The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the China's Ministry of Culture has announced sweeping new regulations for online music. The new regulations attempt to make the Ministry a bottleneck and gatekeeper for all commercial exchanges of online music in China. Foreign-produced music must be approved by censors and checked for copyright compliance before it can be distributed over the Internet. According to the Journal, “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.” In other words, this is an attempt to undo exactly what the Internet is designed to do.
Normally the West loves to hold up Chinese censorship as a bad example to the rest of the world. But guess who has expressed enthusiasm and support for the new regulations? You guessed it: The music publishers! Both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) are quoted in the article as supporting this new extension of Chinese censorship. Remember the satiric poster “when you pirate MP3s, you're downloading communism?” Now maybe we need a new one: “Communists and Copyright owners: perfect together.”