Hotels told to cough up for playing music on TV by Vietnam's copyright watchdog

By Ha Thu   September 12, 2017 | 08:26 pm PT
Collection of the controversial royalty fees will resume after a three-month break following a public backlash.

Vietnam's music copyright watchdog has announced that it will resume charging hotels across the country royalty fees for playing music on TV.

The Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC) will be charging all hotels VND25,000 ($1.1) per year for each room equipped with a TV.

The amount is based on similar fees charged in other countries based on information provided by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and adjusted to Vietnam's economy, the center stated.


Pho Duc Phuong (R), director of the VCPMC, at the meeting on Monday.

The culture ministry has asked the VCPMC to start collecting fees again after they were put on hold in May following a public backlash, according to Pho Duc Phuong, the center's director.

At a press conference on Monday, the VCPMC cited Vietnam's intellectual property law to reaffirm its right to collect royalty fees from hotels that play music.

The center also said that 80 percent of the royalties would go to the copyright holders and it would only retain 20 percent to cover its operating costs, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

The collection process will be public and transparent, and the royalties will be paid to the copyright holders every three months, said Nguyen Hoang Giang, director of the VCPMC's northern chapter.

"The hotels will supply us with lists of songs they frequently play, and after subtracting administrative expenses, we will split the royalties equally among copyright holders," Giang said.

However, the VCPMC did not explain how the hotels will be able to compile these lists, or how it will verify them.

In May, the center's southern chapter started asking 1, 2 and 3-star hotels in Da Nang to pay music royalty fees and threatened to take legal action against those that refused to cooperate. Many hotel owners were surprised to learn about the new fees and were quick to protest, claiming most visitors don't use their TVs to play music and not all hotels play music in their lounges.

However, the VCPMC has been charging 4 and 5-star hotels music licensing fees for the last 10 years, and has been organizing conferences since 2013 to inform all hotel owners of copyright laws and regulations, Tuoi Tre quoted Dinh Trung Can, the VCPMC's deputy director, as saying.

Following the public backlash in May, the Copyright Office of Vietnam instructed the VCPMC to temporarily stop collecting music royalty fees until it could devise a more transparent and appropriate roadmap for the collection process.

The VCPMC is a non-governmental and non-profit collective copyright management organization. It claims to represent nearly 4,000 songwriters and copyright holders of Vietnamese songs, and more than 4 million international writers.

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