Songwriters and recording artists whose music is played in China can look forward to a very happy New Year.

Fee collection standards are being set up, which means the country’s radio and TV stations will have to start paying royalties for the music they broadcast.

Billions of dollars could be collected every year — particularly good news for China’s impoverished musicians, who also suffer from widespread piracy of their product.

“The methods and standards are being drawn up by the Office of Legislative Affairs of the State Council. They are expected to be officially promulgated next year,” an unnamed official with the National Copyright Administration told the Xinhua news agency.

According to a 2001 law, radio and TV stations are supposed to pay copyright owners fees for playing their recordings unless other agreements exist. But the law was rarely enforced, as no collection methods had been set up.

Wang Liping, prexy of the Music Copyright Society of China and a very influential political figure in China, and VP Gu Jianfen had filed a motion to be presented to China’s annual legislature, the National People’s Congress, calling for the process to be speeded up.

The motion prompted senior government officials to call for the issue to be resolved as soon as possible, the copyright official said.