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Ken Burns Docuseries Required to Pay $30,000 in Royalties to Vietnamese Composer

Producers of the popular American documentary series didn't pay the composer because his song was produced 50 years ago, and they assumed he had passed away.

The Vietnam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC) recently announced that the producers of The Vietnam War, directed by Ken Burns, compensated the songwriter VND700 million (US$30,192) because they had not received his permission to use his song numerous times in the documentary, according to Tuoi Tre.

The payment is based on the mini-series' release via 76 collective management and publishing contracts across 116 countries. Per the composer's request, VCPMC did not name him in the announcement.

Because the film continues to be available for viewing on Netflix, even in Vietnam with Vietnamese subtitles, future royalties will accrue. 

Released in 2017, the 10-part documentary interviews a variety of American and Vietnamese soldiers, politicians and civilians from different sides of the conflict. While generally very well-received by critics and audiences alike, The Vietnam War also faced criticism, including claims that it minimized Vietnamese civilian deaths. 

[Photo via PBS]