APNewsBreak: Coke, Samsung pull Vietnam site ads

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 2:31 am •  Published: October 3, 2012
Advertisement
;

Stopping rampant illegal downloading of songs is a priority for the music industry worldwide, but progress has been patchy as consumers get used to free music. As broadband internet connections have grown in Asia, the problem has gotten worse. Vietnam has passed laws against piracy, but has failed to enforce them, enabling sites like Zing to grow into respectable businesses.

Recording artists in Vietnam no longer can make money selling music. They have had to live with the reality of illegal downloading as they seek promotional opportunities or sponsorship to earn a living. Zing's giant reach was important to them even as it attracted complaints. One entertainment music executive complained bitterly about the site, but said that he couldn't publicly speak out against it because it would not highlight his company's songs.

Still, one of Vietnam's most popular singers, Le Quyen, has begun legal proceedings against Zing and eight other websites to try and get compensation, according to her lawyer Le Quang Vy.

"By complaining against the offending websites, she wants to get justice for herself and remind them that they owe the performers," he said. "If no halt is put to the violation of copyrights ... the country's musical life will perish."

Zing is owned by VNG Corporation, a Vietnamese Internet company that is the leader in the lucrative online gaming market. The company has attracted investment from IDG Ventures of San Francisco and Goldman Sachs.

Like others around the world, Zing collects links to infringing content and gives users the ability to engage in piracy through "deep linking". According to Alexa, the web tracking company, about 20 percent of Zing's visitors come from outside Vietnam. It said 60 percent of the traffic on the site goes to the download section.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, which this year accused Zing.vn of engaging in "notorious" piracy, welcomed the move by Coca-Cola and Samsung.

"It is essential that good corporate citizens refrain from spending advertising dollars on services that engage in or encourage infringement," said alliance representative Michael Schlesinger. "Breaking the chain of support for such notorious piracy services will erode the incentives for illegal services to operate."