Charities have also been lax

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 January, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 January, 1995, 12:00am

I REFER to your editorial headlined, 'Composers CASH in' (South China Morning Post, January 4).

Although we appreciate your accepting that the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH) has a legal right to demand royalties under the Copyright Ordinance, including charitable events, we should point out that CASH was established to protect the rights of music writers and to collect on our members' behalf, their fair share of remuneration for their works, rather than to provide a decent living for our members, as stated in the editorial.

CASH has a well-established policy and tariffs applying to different usage of music in public performance. CASH's policy towards recognised charitable functions has all along been 20 per cent off the standard rate of charge.

This was applied to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) concert on January 3 and has applied to many other events. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that CASH has no policy on charitable use.

The editorial also claimed CASH's laxity led charities to assume they were exempt, and was correct in saying that CASH has not exercised its right to sue any charitable organisations for infringing its rights.

What was not mentioned was the charities' laxity to comply with the law, which states that applications must be made for prior authorisation for a performance of music in public.

CASH has, singlehandedly, been carrying out the duties of policing, educating and licensing in Hong Kong since 1977 with limited resources. It faces infringement on a massive scale.

CASH has currently licensed around 8,000 premises in Hong Kong. Very few applied for CASH licences voluntarily, prior to their use of music. Such laxity on their part seems to have been overlooked.

It is unfair to single out CASH. Laxity cuts both ways.

LESLIE CHING Deputy General Manager Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Ltd