The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during services.
Music and Buddhist chants during funerals are usually provided by the funeral homes, mostly using a gadget called the Electric Buddhism Sutra Player or music CDs.
However, one music company feels the use of the sutra player constitutes as copyright infringement and began recording audio and video footage of services earlier this year at funeral homes all across the nation.
It then filed lawsuits against a number of funeral homes, demanding a copyright fee of NT$500.
Some of the funeral homes decided to pay the company compensation to settle their cases out of court. However, other funeral home owners complained to the Ministry of the Interior yesterday during a meeting to discuss funeral regulations.
Some said they had been asked by government agencies to take part in conferences about IPR awareness and were surprised to see the music company that sued them at the meetings.
It was like being investigated a second time, and that was a rotten feeling, the funeral home owners said.
The ministry said it would invite music industry and funeral home owners to discuss and negotiate the matter.
However, Association of Taiwan Commercial Funeral Unions chairman Lee Shao-cheng (李少成) said the ministry should not bother with invitations to such a meeting because the association has decided to notify its members nationwide that funeral music would now be handled by the families of the deceased, to avoid IPR infringement problems.
If a family asks the funeral home to play Buddhist chants or pop music during a funeral, the family would be asked to pay an extra fee to cover the copyright.
Music played during a funeral is considered a public performance, which is different from buying music for home use, a senior ministry official said, adding that the fees for such use could range from several hundred of NT dollars to thousands of dollars.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER