Friday, March 17, 2006

Plagiarism in Chinese Music is Blooming or Withering?

Mu Qian wrote a great article for the China Daily about Chinese songs that are put under increased scrutiny to see if they are original, thanks to the internet.

The Chinese pop scene was a long time isolated from the rest of the world. When Chinese musicians wanted to play, say Western, songs it was sheer impossible for them to pay royalties to the authors. Mu wrote that at that time Chinese pop singers often left the credits of those songs blank. But things have changed.

Chinese music band The Flowers (EMI) is accused of plagiarism. Their popular song Xi Shua Shua (listen to it here) is similar to the hit of Japanese female duo Puffy AmiYumi 2003 (Sony) 'K2G' (listen to it here, scroll down Amazon's page). Pretty similar even to the untrained ear.
The songs of The Flowers were written under the credit of Zhang Wei, the band leader.

Netizens have started to put plagiary songs and their originals online for everybody to compare them and the media are fanning the controversy. Media and netizens claim 13 of the 24 songs on the band's last two albums were suspected of plagiarism. 'Fertilizer' for The Flowers include:
Canadian singer Avril Lavigne's "I Don't Give";

  • British trio Busted's "Losing You";
  • American Singer Hillary Duff's "Party Up";
  • Belgian group K3's "Heyah Mama";
  • Irish singer Samantha Mumba's, "Always Come Back To Your Love";
  • Romanian group O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei";
  • South Korean singer Kim Gun Mo's "Swallow";
  • Danish group Aqua's "Turn Back Time";
  • ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell's "Calling".

"At the arrangement of a Hainan-based magazine New Century Weekly, Chen Qi, music director of the International Cultural Exchange Audio and Video Publishing House, analyzed four of the 13 songs and the corresponding "original works.""

Chen found that The Flowers used in their songs almost identical melodies to the international works. According to Chen the imitated parts far exceeded "eight measures," the common standard of judging whether a song is a plagiary. Now I have searched for this so called common standard for music plagiary, to no avail. Do you know anything about it? Please let me know: ipdragon(at) Columbia Law Library Music Plagiarism Project has a great site, see here.

Sony and EMI found a solution to their problem:
"EMI revealed this week that it had reached an agreement with Sony, holder of the copyright of Puffy's "K2G," for each company to own 50 per cent of the copyright of "Xi Shua Shua."" But the problems for EMI are far from over now that Jiang Hong, editor of New Century Weekly is contacting overseas media to inform copyright holders of those foreign songs.

Read Mu's article here.

Read about Shuimu Nianhua versus Jars of Clay the article Music Plagiarism in China: Heard It All Before.

UPDATE: February 16, 2011

Check out the video

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