Karaoke chain removes Warner songs from playlist amid row

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 April, 2010, 12:00am

Patrons of leading karaoke chain Neway will not be able to sing along to songs by nine popular artists, at least for the time being.

This follows an agreement not to play the 27 songs until a copyright dispute between Neway and Warner Music is resolved.

The songs, both English and Chinese, include James Blunt's You're Beautiful, Linkin Park's In the End, and Jason Mraz's I'm Yours.

Fans of Taiwanese Jam Hsiao, local singer Fiona Sit and Linkin Park will be hardest hit as they will have the most songs withdrawn - eight, five and six, respectively.

Other singers involved include Estelle, TI, Flo Rida and Khalil Fong.

The songs will not be offered for a year or until a Copyright Tribunal case between Neway and a Warner-authorised licensee is resolved, whichever is sooner.

Neway and Warner said in the Court of First Instance yesterday they had come to this arrangement. Mr Justice Mohan Bharwaney granted an order according to their terms.

Warner sued Neway and 27 related companies in February for breaching its copyright by offering songs at 23 bars in the city.

It then applied for an interlocutory injunction to stop the chain from using the music until the case was resolved.

Barely two months later, Sony Music and Universal Music also filed suits against Neway.

John Yan, for Neway, yesterday blamed Warner for raising the price of licences. 'We are prepared to take the licences and pay the fees, but the record companies have decided to up the ante and raise [them],' he said.

'Karaoke plays an important role in promoting the artists. It's a tit for tat, and we will not be playing these songs,' Yan said.

Neway has said it was applying to the tribunal to ask it to determine reasonable licence fee levels and terms that it hopes will resolve the dispute.

Neway owns 90 per cent of the city's karaoke industry after taking over California Red last month.