The Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs issued the Zhi-Zhu-10400001530 Circular (hereinafter, the "Circular") on January 14, 2015 which held that if the music played during a funeral was prepared or played by the family of the deceased, it does not constitute public performance and requires no license.
Article 3, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 9 of the Copyright Law provides: "Public performance' means to act, dance, sing, play a musical instrument, or use other means to communicate the content of a work to a public that is present at the scene. This includes any communication to the public of an original broadcast of sounds or images through loudspeakers or other equipment." Subparagraph 4 of the same article provides: "The public' or 'a public' means unspecified persons or multiple specified persons; provided, this does not apply to multiple persons of a household and the household's normal social acquaintances."
According to the Circular, in principle, the scope of the term "public" would cover a group of people, regardless of whether the group comprises of multiple unspecified persons or specific persons, and where the group is located. However, the proviso states that as long as the group is comprised of "multiple persons of a household or the household's normal social acquaintances" based on common social understanding, the group is not considered "public."
It was further pointed out in the Circular that if the music played in funerals (or weddings) is prepared or played by the family of the deceased, this will fall in most cases under the proviso's scope of non-public since the participants are "multiple persons of a household or the household's normal social acquaintances". Therefore, such music performance and use do not constitute public performance and do not require a license. However, if the funeral services solicited to the family of the deceased by a funeral service provider include the music performance (regardless of whether a fee for such music service is included), since the act of being commissioned to play or perform music is part of the funeral service provider's business, the people attending the funeral are then not "multiple persons of the service provider's household and his normal social acquaintances", thus such performance does constitute public performance and a license should be obtained beforehand.