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I think I just started an international incident....part deux


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#1 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 18 2006 - 06:53 PM

So there I was, picking up some necessities* at Walmart. I went to check out the music department when I noticed a familiar face on the CD racks....the late Teresa Teng. Members here may not know her but she is the undisputed biggest-selling Chinese-language singer ever (yet never setting foot into China); when she passed away about 10 years ago, Time magazine quoted her sales at over 100 million. I was happy to see Chinese pop music made it into the US mainstream, given that MTV just launched a Chinese version of the channel and Rolling Stone magazine just published its first edition in Chinese.

However, something was wrong.....

Teresa Teng's music is owned by Hong Kong Universal Music (and has been a cash cow for the company thru extensive reissues) but this CD wasn't released by HK Universal....it was released by another mainland Chinese music company. Also, both the front and the back cover "advertisd" remastering using ultra high-end Manley Lab(s) tube gear....an e-mail to EveAnna Manley, the President of Manley Labs, seeking confirmation resulted in the following reply from the big cheese herself....

Quote:
Wow that's crazy. No we are not involved.
I have forwarded your photo and email to my trademark attorney to look into for me. Thank you for informing me of this.

BTW, here's the proof that I purchased the CD from Walmart

Posted Image

* yes, to me at least, beef jerky and gummi bears are necessities Posted Image

That's my effort in fighting music piracy. Now there's another reason to hate Walmart. Where were the "piracy fighting" guys below when you need them?

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SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#2 of 18 Doug_B

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Posted March 19 2006 - 11:24 AM

They just gotta include Walmart in the resulting lawsuit Posted Image

Doug

#3 of 18 Rachael B

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Posted March 19 2006 - 01:38 PM

I hope Walnut-Mart has to pay the royalties! Danny, you're gonna need an assistant named Watson, eh ole chap? Posted Image
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#4 of 18 Garrett Lundy

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Posted March 20 2006 - 09:57 AM

Where can I get a no Chinese piracy shirt? (besides from the knock-off $3 T-shirt guy in Chinatown?)
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#5 of 18 Yee-Ming

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Posted March 20 2006 - 01:21 PM

It might not literally be piracy, though perhaps some false advertising has been involved.

IIRC, (leaving aside outright piracy) China has a "liberal" copyright regime, where copyright lasts maybe only 20 years, unlike the US which recently extended it to something like 95 years (at the insistence of lobbyists on behalf of big media companies). Hence, given that Teresa Teng's career started in the 70s, some of her material would, under Chinese law, be public domain already.

That bit about re-mastering with Manley equipment, if false, would be false advertising. But who's to say they didn't actually buy some Manley equipment and use it? Although I'd be sceptical as to the quality of the re-master anyway unless they had access to the actual master tapes -- which they possibly did not. Garbage in, garbage out, no matter how good the equipment in the middle.

#6 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 20 2006 - 04:48 PM

Quote:
IIRC, (leaving aside outright piracy) China has a "liberal" copyright regime, where copyright lasts maybe only 20 years, unlike the US which recently extended it to something like 95 years (at the insistence of lobbyists on behalf of big media companies). Hence, given that Teresa Teng's career started in the 70s, some of her material would, under Chinese law, be public domain already.

I don't think the rights to Teresa Teng's music has expired yet. Otherwise, Hong Kong Universal would've fought extremely hard to retain it since her music is like a money printing machine....in 2005 alone, HK Universal issued a 20 CD boxset, a 4 CD compilation and reissued 2 of her albums on audiophile vinyl.

Quote:
Although I'd be sceptical as to the quality of the re-master anyway unless they had access to the actual master tapes -- which they possibly did not.

Universal may not have the master tapes either since their studio and vault went up in a blaze several years back. Which leads to my JVC XRCD of Teresa Teng's 15th Anniversary album (an album that has appeared in the old Stereo Review magazine)....

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and the CD I purchased at Walmart....

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Very similar looking, wouldn't you say? And that tagline "The Next Revolution in CD Technology" along the left edge of the packaging? Maybe I can get JVC/XRCD into the lawsuit, no? The photo used on the Walmart CD is also very similar to the one Universal used for its first Teresa Teng SACD (see below)....

Posted Image
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#7 of 18 Claudia P

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Posted March 21 2006 - 05:25 AM

But, Danny, you didn't buy Teresa Teng from Walmart - according to your receipt you purchased Teresa TANG... That's Walmart off the hook on a technicality.

Beef jerky and gummy bears... was that breakfast?

#8 of 18 ThomasC

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Posted March 21 2006 - 06:35 AM

Quote:
But, Danny, you didn't buy Teresa Teng from Walmart - according to your receipt you purchased Teresa TANG... That's Walmart off the hook on a technicality.
I don't know about that. There's a sticker on the cover that also says Teresa Tang with "Teresa Teng" on the cover.

#9 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 21 2006 - 07:02 AM

Quote:
But, Danny, you didn't buy Teresa Teng from Walmart - according to your receipt you purchased Teresa TANG... That's Walmart off the hook on a technicality.


On the Walmart CD, the SKU number underneath the barcode on the sticker matches the SKU number on my receipt.

Quote:
Beef jerky and gummy bears... was that breakfast?


2 of my 4 main food groups....the others are caffaine and MSG Posted Image

BTW, this was the e-mail I send to EveAnna Manley....

Quote:
Hello Ms. Manley,

Recently I purchased a CD at my local Walmart out of curiosity. The curiosity comes from the fact that Walmart is carrying Chinese pop music, which surprised me. The CD in question is from ABC Records out of mainland China; I have 2 of their SACDs and everything seems legit....until this CD. From the attached scan, you can see that Manley Lab (not labs) is printed on the bottom left hand corner. The Chinese characters says that the master tapes were re-mastered in Germany using tube gear (I assume that means Manlet Labs components). Is Manley Labs involved in the release of this recording?

Other suspicious happenings with the CD....the CD in question also mentioned "K2", which is a JVC trademark....although the mention of JVC is nowhere to be found inside the digipak case. The CD is marketed as having the pedigree of JVC's XRCDs, which caused quite an uproar on Hong Kong's audiophile websites. The music itself was from the late Teresa Teng, the biggest selling Chinese-language singer ever (yet never stepping inside the country) and is actually owned by Hong Kong Universal Music.

Anyway, just wanted to confirm Manley Labs' involvement.

Sincerely,

Danny

I noticed about a month's worth of e-mails, including Ms. Manley's reply, have disappeared off of my e-mail account at Yahoo. This type of things is kind of spooky but not unheard of....such as what happened in "International Incident, Part I".

Oh, almost forget....no IFPI code on Walmart CD.
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#10 of 18 Yee-Ming

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Posted March 21 2006 - 01:17 PM

Quote:
I don't think the rights to Teresa Teng's music has expired yet. Otherwise, Hong Kong Universal would've fought extremely hard to retain it since her music is like a money printing machine....in 2005 alone, HK Universal issued a 20 CD boxset, a 4 CD compilation and reissued 2 of her albums on audiophile vinyl.

I don't doubt that the copyright on her material is still in effect in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world, the anomaly is that in China, the copyright might have expired. Copyright is a territorial thing, valid based on the laws of that country, and can be owned by different owners in different countries, e.g. IIRC Titanic is owned by Paramount in North America but Fox in the rest of the world, per their agreement to share production costs, so the DVDs would be released by Paramount in R1, but Fox in the other regions -- all are legit, and Fox for instance could not claim piracy of Titanic by Paramount in North America based on its rights elsewhere, and vice versa.

Usually, in those circumstances, parallel-importing something legit from one country into another where the copyright owner is different is still legit, e.g. if a US resident decided he wanted the 4-disc Titanic set released by Fox in R2 and imported it, that's probably legit. A few countries have stricter regimes (IIRC Australia did, where consent of copyright owner in Australia is all-important, but I don't know if the Aussies have since dropped this.)

The difficulty arises when what is "in copyright" in one country might have expired in another, so in that other country, the material would have entered public domain and can be "copied" at will. Notionally, the "public domain" copy released in the latter is still "legit", since in that country it is public domain and anyone can now copy it.

The clash comes when a copy of something released on that basis, i.e. entered public domain in country A but still in copyright in country B, is parallel-imported from A to B. In some instances, copyright law talks about "copies made with the consent of the copyright owner" as being a test of legitimacy, which validates parallel imports of "official releases" where copyright is owned by different parties (such as the example of Titanic), but therefore prohibits "now public domain" copies from countries with lesser/shorter protection.

This issue is, I think, going to flare up in due course, since the US extended copyright to 95 years, whilst most other countries have not followed suit. Expect a "Gone With The Wind" lawsuit some time...

#11 of 18 Garrett Lundy

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Posted March 21 2006 - 01:22 PM

I'm just waiting to hear 'Happy Birthday' in my lifetime at every fast-food restaurant.
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#12 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 21 2006 - 04:25 PM

Yee-Ming,

Thanks for the explanation. Given that Teresa Teng's last studio album for HK Universal was in 1985, the 20 year copyright period would coincide with the 2005 release of this particular Walwart CD. If that's true, any intellectual property over 20 year old can be considered a "free-for-all" in the mainland.

I have fired an e-mail to Hong Kong's Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH) trying to clarify the issue. According to CASH's website, the copyrights of a piece of music is 50 years. But is that copyright only valid in Hong Kong? Posted Image
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#13 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 22 2006 - 07:02 AM

As of about 5 minutes ago, I was informed that the CD I purchased at Walmart was actually a second pressing. The first pressing apparently carried the wording of "K2" and "XRCD", both trademarks of JVC....

Posted Image

which promptly resulted in a public "cease and desist" notice from JVC's lawyers published in a HK audiophile magazine....

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Looks like the use of the name "Manley Lab" replaced JVC's trademarks for the second pressing. I have also receive an e-mail from Manley Labs asking for more info.
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#14 of 18 Yee-Ming

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Posted March 22 2006 - 03:03 PM

Danny: 50 years would sound like the usual period of copyright in any ex-British colony, here in Singapore it's also currently 50 years (or life of author plus 50). The response from CASH would of course refer to the copyright in Hong Kong only, and that doesn't apply to China, where as you know a different set of laws applies.

I don't know the exact period, but I vaguely recall China, and indeed some northern European countries, have shorter periods, one of which I thought was 20, which might give you the answer.

I see they fell afoul of trademark laws (which are different from copyright), so they changed it to something else (Manley), which might now kick off another round of action.

As an aside, for those wondering why so many bootleg concert CDs come from Italy, I believe their copyright regime provides that anyone can make a recording of a performance and sell it, provided the appropriate royalties are paid into an official fund from which the songwriters and performers can claim their entitlement, but they can't stop the sale of the bootleg.

#15 of 18 Mike Frezon

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Posted March 22 2006 - 03:24 PM

Danny: I'm finding this thread very interesting and am curious to see what happens.

Just wanted to let you know that I believe the phrase you mean in Post #13 is "cease and desist".

Carry on! And, good luck! Posted Image

Of course, I could be wrong. I'm not a lawyer. I don't even play one on TV! Posted Image

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#16 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted March 22 2006 - 05:00 PM

Thanks for everyone's support.

I have received a response from CASH and they referred me to a direct contact at Universal Music in Hong Kong regarding the copyrights to Teresa Teng's recording.

Here's the webpage that describe the Teresa Teng CD at ABC Records, the mainland Chinese company that released the CD in question.
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#17 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted April 08 2006 - 09:03 AM

An update....

I have received no update from Manley Labs nor did I get any kind of response from Hong Kong Universal Music. The silence from HK Universal is surprising simply because the money at stakes....Teresa Teng's back catalog is amongst the most important asset HK Universal has (the catalog is also licensed to other Universal label all over Asia, including Japan) and it's basically allowing a music pirate free reign over its property. Meanwhile, ABC Records still have the title listed at its website.

It's also interesting that HK Universal doesn't list any of its SACD or XRCD titles on its website.
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)

#18 of 18 Danny Tse

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Posted October 09 2006 - 07:57 AM

An update....

In recent days, the mainland Chinese company mentioned in the original post, ABC Records, has started releasing audiophile LPs of some its previous releases....

Posted Image
Posted Image

As you can tell, one of the audiophile LPs releases was in fact the recording I purchased from Walmart, as mentioned earlier in this thread. All of the LPs featured the audio engineer's name....Mark Levinson. THE Mark Levinson? To find out, I went to MK's current company's (Red Rose Music) website and asked via its "Contact Us" link. I actually received a response from MK himself and he confirmed these LPs are the real deal.

Hmmmmm....
SACD not listed at sa-cd.net (updated 8/26/2009)


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