Music brass wants EU tough on China


BRUSSELS -- A delegation of top music bosses in Brussels on Thursday appealed to EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson to get tough with China over its rampant Internet piracy, estimated at more than 99% of the total Chinese digital market.

The visiting music chiefs told Mandelson that piracy has escalated dramatically in China despite repeated warnings from EU and U.S. officials.

The delegation, led by IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy, included Sony BMG Music Entertainment CEO Tim Bowen, EMI Music International chairman and CEO J.F. Cecillon, Universal Music Group International Asian Pacific president Max Hole and Dramatico Entertainment chairman Mike Batt.

"When the recording industry tries to defend its copyrights against online piracy in China, it is blocked by a combination of heavy procedural rules, woefully low levels of damages and injunctions too narrow to prevent ongoing infringement," Kennedy said. "Chinese law has simply not kept pace with the explosion of online piracy."

As well as hosting Internet pirates, China also produces the vast majority of the pirate DVDs, CDs and software currently sold in the U.S. and Europe. But while physical piracy is estimated to account for 85% of the overall physical market -- and an estimated value of €300 million -- digital piracy is estimated to be account for 99% of the overall digital market.

Piracy is expected to overshadow the EU's summit with China in Beijing on Nov. 28. Although Mandelson has so far emphasized dialogue with the Chinese authorities, officials said the commissioner's patience is running thin.