Mon, Dec 03, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Lyricist of famous pop songs loses claim to copyright

Staff writer, with CNA

The writer who penned the lyrics to The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心), a well-known Taiwanese pop song, on Friday lost a lawsuit claiming copyright to the lyrics.

The Moon Represents My Heart has been a popular song since 1972.

Many people have enjoyed listening to it, but few know that Sun Yi (孫儀), who wrote the lyrics, brought a lawsuit against the Leico Record Factory Co, claiming copyright to a total of 127 songs.

His suit was rejected by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Sun Yi, whose real name is Sun Chia-lin (孫家麟), worked with composer Wong Ching-hsi (翁清溪) to create a number of pop songs, with Wong composing the tunes and Sun writing the lyrics.

Sun filed the lawsuit against Leico in 2010 when he found out that Leico had bought the copyright for 127 of his songs in 1980.

He asked the court to confirm his identity as the genuine owner of the copyright to his work.

During the trial at the Taipei District Court, the record company could not produce any evidence to support its claims that Sun had transferred ownership of the songs to it and therefore the court ruled in favor of Sun.

The record company appealed to the Taiwan High Court against that judgment and produced a former cashier during the hearing as its witness.

The cashier said that the writer sold the lyrics to the record company for between NT$1,000 and NT$2,000 each.

The cashier’s testimony convinced the High Court that Sun had given up his right to the lyrics, since he never bothered to ask the company for royalties after the selling the rights to his works.

The High Court struck down the judgment of the lower court and ruled in favor of Leico, a ruling that was upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Sun, 84, could not be reached for comment because he moved to Shanghai to work for a Chinese TV station 10 years ago.

However, Sun’s son, Sun Le-hsing (孫樂欣), said he thought his father, who has written lyrics for between 4,000 and 5,000 songs, would not care very much about the loss.

The younger Sun said his father worked at a local radio station and as a composer for the Taipei-based China Television Service after leaving the army.

He also wrote lyrics for record companies to earn extra money, often getting assignments late at night and finishing them early in the morning, his son said.

He quoted his father as saying that he never waited for inspiration, but rather relied on hard work.

In Taiwan, most composers and lyricists prefer to sell their works, along with the copyright, to the record companies, at a price of NT$12,000 per lyric or NT$18,000 per song.

Writers and composers who opt to collect royalties from the record companies usually agree to charge royalties only when an album has sold more than 15,000 copies, a threshold only crossed by 20 percent of all albums released.

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