Music streaming giant runs into Vietnam's age-old copyright issue

March 16, 2018 | 18:31
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In the new age of streaming everything, responsible entertainment draws more attention than ever as the copyrights of original artists such as producers and composers, amateur or professional, are being violated left and right in small-scale music markets, and especially in Vietnam.
music streaming giant runs into vietnams age old copyright issue

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Within the first several days in Vietnam, the Sweden-headquartered streaming service giant Spotify encountered aggravating issues relating to copyright infringements.

Specifically, within the first 24 hours since the music application was launched on the Android and iOS platforms, numerous “how-to” articles on hacking and manipulating Spotify’s premium streaming service could be found in the first 10 Google and Bing searches.

These solutions offered a way for streaming “freeloaders” to gain free access to VIP streaming perks, including downloading high-quality tracks, advertisement-free streaming, and accessing top-notch recommended playlists without paying the subscription fee of VND59,000 ($2.58) per month to the service provider.

Hence, “freeloaders” could listen to copyrighted musical works without paying streaming fees to the original artists as well as encroaching on the benefits enjoyed by premium subscribers.

Recently, the world’s pre-eminent music streaming service provider Spotify entered Vietnam, promising to cater a brand new audio experience to Vietnamese audiophiles.

Spotify is highly appraised for its individually-tailored recommended playlists to the listener’s personal preference.

In the Vietnamese digital music market, Spotify could bump into rather vigorous competition with Apple Music, which previously made its entrance in July 2015.

Offering a ridiculously low subscription fee of $2.99 per month, beating other markets by a hefty market (subscription fees in the US and Singapore are $10 and $7.50 per month), Apple Music could pose quite a challenge to the newcomer Spotify in an “under-appreciated” streaming market like Vietnam’s.

However, Apple Music’s VIP streaming services were also hacked in Vietnam. Specifically, Vietnamese hackers disguised as “application developers” launched various applications which enabled end-users to gain free-of-charge access to Apple’s subscription stream services without conforming to the provider’s streaming regulations.

Decree No. 131/2013/ND-CP dated October 16, 2013, on sanctioning administrative violations of copyright and related rights, stipulates that

any individual who infringes on a copyright shall be fined up to VND250 million ($10,980);

any organisation engaged in copyright infringement shall be fined up to VND500 million ($21,960);

any organisation that imports either an original or a copy of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder shall be fined VND400-500 million ($17,568-$21,960);

any individual who broadcasts or re-broadcasts a programme without appropriate permission will be fined VND70-100 million ($3,074-$4,392);

and those who reproduce sound or video recordings without permission will be fined VND15-35 million ($658-$1,537).

By Sam Luong

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