Free Buddhist music during funerals in Taiwan could be a thing of the past

Want China Times
Chang Chi-Fang and Staff Reporter

The family of the deceased might have to pay an extra fee of NT$ 2,000 (US$ 67) for each Buddhist song played during a Taiwanese funeral.

A Kaohsiung-based Buddhist music company, which claims to own the copyright to 90%, or over 5,000, of the sacred religious songs on the market, held a press conference on Tuesday requesting funeral service providers pay for the right to air their music.

A representative of the music company Lin Wei-Bin said the funeral service providers across the island have been utilizing the record company’s music free of charge, which has amounted to massive losses for the company over the last decade.

The religious songs that are usually played during funeral services are under copyright protection. However, all of the funeral service business owners refused to pay when the recording company requested payment. Some of the funeral service providers even threatened, or pushed away the recording personnel who tried to collect evidence of the copyright violation, said Lin.

The record company said legal attest letters have been sent out to the over 500 funeral service providers islandwide. Those neglecting its appeal and refusing to pay will be subject to three years in prison or a fine of NT$ 750,000 (US$ 25,000).

Sometimes the family of the deceased requests music to be played at the funeral venue. Under such circumstances, it would not be reasonable to ask for a fee for that, said Wu Chin-Ming, director-general of the Kaohsiung Funeral Business Association.

As to the music offered by funeral service providers, if the law regulates that the music be pay-for-play, the funeral businesses would charge the deceased’s family for the songs, said Wu.

One local surnamed Li said that the funeral service providers should pay for the music they use since they already charge a lot for the funeral package anyways.

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