US seeks consultation on music download rules in China

The US is seeking consultations with China over rules on music downloading and cinema rights that appear to discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films, a US trade official, quoted by an Associated Press report said.

Hollywood studios and US Internet music providers such as Apple's iTunes store could be among the groups that suffer from 'less favorable distribution opportunities' for imported films and foreign suppliers of music recordings in China, which the US cited in a World Trade Organization request earlier this week.

The Associated Press report quoted Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the Office of the US Trade Representative, as saying that the issues would be addressed as part of an ongoing WTO complaint over restrictions on the sale of American movies, music and books.

'Music from foreign sources needs to undergo content review before being distributed in China. Chinese music doesn't have to face that process,' Norton told The Associated Press. 'The review delays Chinese Internet providers and Chinese consumers from accessing foreign music.'

The same discrimination exists when Chinese consumers seek to download music onto mobile phones, he said. The problem for American music providers is compounded by rules that prevent foreign companies from owning or investing in businesses that distribute music over the Internet in China, the report said.

In its written statement to the WTO, the US said 'various measures in China appear to impose market access restriction or discriminatory requirements on foreign service suppliers seeking to engage in the digital distribution of sound recordings.'

China's mission to the WTO was unavailable to comment, the report further said.

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