China Daily reported today that China’s Ministry of Culture has ordered domestic online websites to stop allowing users to play and download over a 100 songs that have failed to go through “official approval procedures.”
Apparently the songs are not banned for censorship reasons, but purely because they have not gone through official approval procedures. The rule is that websites in China must be licensed and approved by the government before offering online music services.
The ministry has issued stern warnings of punishment if China’s search engines and websites did not “immediately cancel” all unapproved songs.
I’m not sure for what reason but the ministry has formerly disallowed 200 songs including “Cold Wind Blows” by Eminem, “Grenade” by Bruno Mars and “Push That Knot Away” by KT Tunstall. Interestingly I saw KT Tunstall perform live in Beijing a few months ago at the China Music Valley festival but her music didn’t appear to be controlled in any way.
Baidu which has previously found itself in trouble over illegal music distribution has since started paying for licensed music and will distribute it through One-Stop China, a joint venture between Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music. The downloads are only available to computers in China.
I wonder how this new mandate will affect Douban.fm, which I regularly use to listen to music online.