PETALING JAYA: The Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry will initiate talks with the country’s music licensing bodies to find a way to exclude small businesses from having to pay copyright fees.
“We will hold talks with the music licensing bodies to consider not imposing fees or charges on small businesses, which play music on their premises,” its minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek said in a statement yesterday.
He said that the ministry received numerous complaints from small businesses such as coffee shops, hair salons and car workshops over high annual copyright fees of RM800.
According to reports, these concerns have to pay RM800 per year separately to four music licensing bodies authorised by the Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (MyIPO), which is a division of the ministry: the Music Authors’ Copyright Protection Bhd (MACP), Public Performance Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PPM), Recording Performers Malaysia (M) Bhd (RPM), and Performers Rights & Interest Society Bhd (Prism).
“MyIPO has been urged to resolve the issue of high fees imposed by the licensing bodies,” said Hasan.
However, he said that any involvement by the Government in determining royalties must be done in accordance with the law and international standards on the matter.
“The Government does not have the right to fix the amount of tariff or charge as it respects the private rights of the copyright-holder to negotiate with the user of the particular work,” he explained.
He said that those dissatisfied with the charges could refer their cases to the Copyright Tribunal.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who had highlighted the issue, said on Wednesday that the bodies should not be collecting royalties from premises which were not using the intellectual property for commercial purposes.
Meanwhile, some restaurant and music retail outlet owners in Petaling Jaya say they see no problem with music licensing bodies doing their job since it takes care of the interest of performing artistes.
“We pay with good intentions, and the amount is not big,” said Ramesh Vadiveloo, manager of restaurant Frontera Sol of Mexico.
The straightforward process for copyright payment has also been lauded.
“They send us an invoice and we pay them by cheque. Music retail outlets have always had a good relationship with MACP,” said Victoria Music director Jenny Lim.
For businesses which fail to pay within the allocated time, MACP general manager Chan Miew Lan said they would issue a Letter of Demand, and take civil action as a last resort.
“Depending on the outstanding amount, some licensees are taken to court. But they are only a very small percentage, as it is costly for us to file lawsuits,” she said.
PPM chief executive officer Ramani Ramalingam said they had over 10,000 licensees nationwide and had pursued legal action on less than 1% of that number in the last year.