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Daily Drip

American Composer Calls Out Chinese State TV for Using His Music Without Permission

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Kerry Muzzey, an American composer whose music has been featured on shows such as Glee and So You Think You Can Dance, recently fought an uphill battle with China Central Television (CCTV) over the network’s alleged use of his music, which he discovered by using Content ID, a tool that detects digital copyright infringement — a battle he’s now documented on Twitter. 

Muzzey recently wrote a Twitter thread about trying to confront CCTV for using his music without permission. “CCTV didn’t license my music for their TV shows which then went onto their on-demand services + onto YouTube, monetized,” Muzzey wrote on Twitter. “We’ve been going back and forth for 7 months now as I try to resolve my claims with CCTV because I should’ve been paid for these uses of my music.”

Muzzey’s crusade is the latest symptom of the epidemic of copyright infringement found in Chinese media, which, according to pioneering Chinese music lawyer Eric Zhao, requires a generational effort to fix.

After Muzzey discovered the illicit use of his music, he reached out to CCTV, which he said responded with a bizarre sequence of excuses. According to Muzzey, CCTV first claimed to have made the mistake because their downloaded song files did not have correct titles; then they said all music from the US is usable under Creative Commons (false); and finally CCTV said they pay an annual fee to the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), so Muzzey should take his complaint to them (irrelevant because MCSC also does not have the rights to Muzzey’s compositions).

Muzzey, who says CCTV has been using his music for years, didn’t write the series of Tweets just to blast CCTV. He also did it to encourage other artists to use digital copyright protection tools, which he said creatives must embrace if they want to know when their works are being stolen.

For more on issues of copyright protection in China, read our interview with music lawyer Eric Zhao:

“We Need a Generational Effort”: Music Lawyer Eric Zhao Crusades Against Piracy

Zach Hollo
    J. Zach Hollo is a RADII contributor currently based in Guangzhou. He recently competed a master's degree in international affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei, where he studied as a Fulbright scholar. Before that, he taught English in China's Hunan and Henan provinces. As an undergraduate, he attended Northwestern University's campus in Doha, Qatar, where he majored in journalism.