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MP3 News




 Andy Strickland

The Chinese government has cracked down on music and video sold over the Web, bringing a total ban on audio handled via the insecure MP3 format.

The new laws, set into motion by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, impose restrictions over a whole host of Internet-related technologies. They include a complete exclusion of online music or video companies based or funded from abroad.

Chinese E-commerce retailers will be required to apply for official licenses in order to continue their practises and owners of data encryption software (designed to allow secure transmission of confidential information) will also have to be registered. Digital downloads "must not include pirated, smuggled or otherwise illegal" material.

A report from Beijing's state-run Xinhua news agency stated that the moves are intended to protect the nation's intellectual property and develop a healthy market. The announcement follows comments last year from Chinese Information Minister Wu Jichuan stating that he planned to clean up the "irregularities" regarding foreign investment. Xinhua themselves, however, are part of the confusion as they own shares in, a mostly American-invested portal which floated on the US stock exchange for $1.4 billion.

In the past two years China's Web usage has soared from 2.1m to 8.9 million subscribers; the authorities are struggling to maintain a firm hold over the dissemination of information. To this end the government has set up an Internet police force, threatening punishments to those who pass off national secrets or trade in pirated products on the Internet.

While China is often criticised for lagging behind the West, there can be little doubt that some sectors in the United States are keen to see their government take similar direct action. With several court cases against MP3 pirates and distributors still pending, the Recording Industry Association of America would be grateful for more state assistance in bringing digital criminals to justice.



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