Vietnam ministry wants national anthem to be royalty-free

By Ngoc An - Quang Liem, Thanh Nien News

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 Students sing national anthem during a school year opening ceremony at Luong The Vinh Secondary School in Hanoi. Photo credit: VnExpress
Vietnam's culture ministry on Tuesday asked a local music copyright agency to stop collecting royalties on the national anthem "Tien quan ca" (Marching song) by late musician Nguyen Van Cao, better known as Van Cao (1923-1995).
The order came just a few days after the Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright announced that any public performance of the 1944 song will be subject to royalty payments, including political and free art shows.
Only students singing the song at school -- a Monday morning tradition at most Vietnamese schools -- and performances at "important ceremonies" would be exempt from royalty fees, according to the center, which represents Van Cao's family to collect royalties on all of his songs.
However, speaking to Thanh Nien, Vu Xuan Thanh, chief inspector of the culture ministry, said the song should be royalty-free as it is the national anthem.
Moreover, in 2010, Van Cao's wife Nghiem Thuy Bang wrote a letter to the ministry, offering to "gift" the song to the public, the government and the Party, which was also the musician's wish when he was living, Thanh said.
He said the ministry will collaborate with other agencies in organizing a ceremony to honor the song's gifting.
However, Van Cao's eldest son Van Thao, who previously said members in his family never reached any consensus on "gifting" the song, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that the ministry cannot decide whether or not the song should be gifted.
He said only the National Assembly, which named the song as the national anthem in 1946, and the government can have a say about the issue.
Thao said his family is willing to gift the song, but they want the government to be "transparent about everything."

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