Thursday, June 05, 2008

Theatre productions in China: "Keep your ideas to yourself"

I interviewed Ms Felicitas Speth von Schülzburg, director of International Performing Arts, about her experiences with intellectual property in China. She is operating in the art sector, which is, similar to the fashion industry, very vulnerable for "trendspotters". Ms Speth has produced great performances by Chinese groups in the Netherlands such as Chinese Impressions, the China Girls (MTV Award winners and official representatives of the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing with their Olympic song) and the Beijing Red Poppy ladies percussion, who will attend the opening and closing ceremony of the coming Olympic games. She also has worked together with real monks from the Shaolin Temple in China, The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts ans Tibetan monks. The fame of International Performing Arts preceeded my meeting with Ms Speth, because I had already enjoyed the very swinging Shanghai Jazz Band when they performed in Amsterdam.

According to Ms Speth it is very difficult to protect and enforce the elaborations of performing arts, theatre and other formats (the use of the light, the costumes, the music, the concept etc.). Ms Speth: "In practice you can not do much with intellectual property rights. You need to be alert and keep your ideas to yourself. And be quick with your productions, because your ideas will be stolen. I found that confidentiality agreements in China don't work in the art sector." Ms Speth laments the state of awareness within the arts industry: "Because there is a lack in knowledge about the regulations and no enforcement at all, nobody dares to cooperate. Everybody is too scared about arbitrary financial demands, instead they rather steal the idea in a bad way, so they cannot be accused of complete copying. In the end everybody suffers, the creative people do not get the money they deserve and the public is getting lower quality."

Ms Speth has sympathy for the freedom of ideas, but she believes in the incentive of intellectual property rights and needs to protect the rights of the people she is working with. So she has registered the elaborations of her ideas into envelopes at the Benelux Bureau for Intellectual Property Rights for 45 euro per envelop and registered some at the notary. She is wary to enforce her rights in China from the Netherlands and relies on her partner in China to do that if it is needed.
Below you will find a few centralised collection of royalties organisations in China and Taiwan.
MCSC (Music Copyright Society of China)
119 5/F Jing Fang Building, n° 33
Dong Dan San Tiao
Beijing 100005
Tel: +86 10 6523 26 56
Fax: +86 10 6523 26 57
MCSC is affiliated with CISAC (umbrella organisation for copyright collection of royalties organisations).
Contact Mr Zhou Wen:
Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)
CHA2nd floor, Unit 6,7,
Ching Dao East Road
Taipei 100
Tel: +8862 2975 6611
Fax: +8862 2975 6622
3F, 130 Nanking
East Road, Section 4
Taipei Taiwan 105
Tel: +886 2 2570 7557
Fax: +886 2 2570 7556

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