JASRAC Faces Criticism for New Copyright Measures for Music Schools

While Asian countries are often seen as loose on copyright infringement, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) is known for being strict, even (some would say) overbearing with those who perform music that is covered by their copyrighting policies. JASRAC recently announced plans to charge 2.5% of lesson fees that musical schools collect if they use songs controlled by JASRAC. Some major schools like the Yamaha music school have reacted, asserting this is overbearing and threatening legal action in the Tokyo District Court.

The IP background for the issue is in the Copyright Law Art. 22, concerning the right to perform for the public, which is said to belong to the copyright holder. JASRAC asserts that music schools that teach musical performance with songs under its umbrella have been infringing upon the copyright of the composers. Yamaha and other groups have asserted that JASRAC is overstepping bounds of what should be considered performance, which is technically protected.[1]

By way of contrast, the United States Copyright Act Sec. 107 allows for what is called “Fair Use” of copyrighted materials, so that what would otherwise be called infringement of copyright is permitted: “fair use of a copyrighted work . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”[2]

Hopes would be that JASRAC and the music schools in Japan can make a way forward to promote the arts for both composers and possible future composers.


[1] Magdalena Osumi, “Music schools to sue Japan’s largest copyright collection group over plan to collect fees,” May 16, 2017 (accessed May 18, 2017), http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/16/national/crime-legal/music-schools-sue-japans-largest-copyright-collection-group-plan-collect-fees/#.WR4AHes1-Uk.
You can read an unofficial translation of the Copyright Act here.

[2] United States Patent and Trademark Office, “Copyright Basics,” accessed May 18, 2017, https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/copyright/copyright-basics.
See here for text of the “Fair Use” clause.

(The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions or inquiries, please contact us for more information.)

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