Hong Kong JV launches Monday.

A British music publisher has set up shop in Hong Kong to capitalize on what it sees as Asia's improving environment for copyright recognition, Billboard.biz has learned.

London-based Music Copyright Solutions (MCS) will start business in Hong Kong on Nov. 20 following a tie-up with local media company Creative Works to form MCS (Asia). MCS owns 70% of the new company, and Creative Works the remaining 30%.

MCS has its sights set on the potentially lucrative Asian -- and particularly Chinese -- music market and hopes to snap up the rights to some of the region's favorite songs and TV and movie themes.

The company will use its contacts in the media world to place them in films, TV shows, on ringtones or advertisements internationally.

MCS (Asia) will also serve as sub-publisher for MCS in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

"There are opportunities over here that we believe will rise to the surface after having been hitherto not noticed so much," says MCS CEO Brian Scholfield. He says a managing director for MCS (Asia) will soon be named.

MCS specializes in handling the publishing business of media firms such as National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and Endemol, a British TV production company.

The MCS catalog also includes works by writers such as Fatboy Slim, Ray Charles and Tom Robinson.

Scholfield says he would not have considered moving east if the copyright environment hadn't improved.

"I think the signs are there that China is making some headway in enforcing copyright," he says, citing the more active role now being played by authors' society Music Copyright Service of China as an example.

"Our feeling is that, probably pushed by the Olympics and international pressure -- which has been there for years -- greater recognition of copyright will come very soon," he adds.

"We will use MCS' skills of registering and collecting and we feel that the Chinese marketplace will open up in the very short term," he says.

Peter Millward, a partner in Hong Long-based commercial music production company Drum Music, believes the presence of independent publishers such MCS will benefit Asian composers.

"In Hong Kong we've really only had the majors as the local publishing houses and they have never really been interested in anything beyond Chinese pop," Millward says.

"They have tended also not to exploit works further than Hong Kong," he adds. "Having an independent production company with overseas experience means composers could get their work played to a wider audience, and it will also hopefully allow media business to be able to source more music from overseas."