Copyright issue heats up local music industry

Abattle is raging over copyright fees between the organiser of music performances by Vietnamese overseas singer Khanh Ly and the Viet Nam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC).

The Dong Dao Entertainment Limited Co. and VCPMC have argued inconclusively for several days since the first two shows of the veteran singer were staged in Ha Noi and Da Nang early this month.
During the live shows, the 69-year-old singer performed the late Trinh Cong Son’s songs that helped make her name. The two sides still cannot agree on the fee rate.

Director of the centre, composer Pho Duc Phuong, appeared in both cities to ask the organiser to pay song copyright fees, without success.

This was not the first time Phuong has asked for copyright fees for music performances.

“We will pursue the case to the last to set a precedent, because the centre represents more than 3,000 composers in Viet Nam,” Phuong said.

The legal representative of Dong Dao Co., Nguyen Ngoc Son, reiterated that the fee VCPMC put forward was impossible.

“VND178 million (US$8,500) of copyright for the show in Ha Noi was too high,” Son said at a press conference in HCM City on Tuesday.

“For previous shows featuring a number of the composer Son’s songs, such as Nhu Canh Vac Bay (Like the Flying Wing of Night Heron) in July, 2011, and the Du Am (Repercussion) in July, 2013, we paid from VND500,000 ($24) to VND667,000 ($32) per song on average,” Son added. “However, the current live shows by Khanh Ly were organised on a larger scale and with higher-priced tickets, so we took the initiative to pay VND1.5 million ($70) per song.

“We couldn’t accept the fee of VND7.5 million ($350) a song that VCPMC requested.”

The organiser also reasoned that VCPMC did not have legal powers to represent the musician’s family to ask for copyright payments.

In regards to the organisation of the performances, the company’s legal representative said that all shows were organised with all the necessary permits granted by relevant authorities.

In an e-mail to BBC Vietnamese, a younger sister of the late composer, Trinh Vinh Trinh, said her family had “granted authority to VCPMC since 2011 because we found this body operates legally and properly”.

“Both VCPMC and our family consulted lawyers and all authority procedures were conducted in accordance with Vietnamese law.”

On Tuesday, the head of VCPMC branch in HCM City, Dinh Trung Can, presented a copy of the contract in which seven siblings of composer Trinh Cong Son empowered Trinh Xuan Tinh and Trinh Vinh Trinh to represent the family to work with relevant individuals and bodies to deal with copyright issues.

Based on this contract, Trinh has authorised VCPMC to manage and claim copyrights for Son’s works.

“We have never forced anybody do this or that. Everything must be done reasonably. We are ready to listen to them and compromise with them,” Can said.

“Don’t say that VND1.5 million is acceptable. On which legal documents or grounds can they fix such price? They are making profit from the composer’s works. The tickets are even as high as VND4 million ($190) each. Is it high enough?,” said Can.

More than VND260 million ($12,300) was paid for Son’s songs performed in Khanh Ly’s latest live show in Ha Noi in May. On average, each song earned VND11 million worth in copyright fees.

According to the organiser, the next Khanh Ly live show in southern Binh Duong Province in October has been temporarily postponed.


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