Cut it out: Japanese copyright watchdog files lawsuit over music played in barber shop

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 10:39pm

Japan’s copyright management organisation has filed lawsuits against owners of a barber shop and restaurant over the usage of background music at their stores, seeking damages and injunctions.

The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) filed the lawsuits on Tuesday at the Sapporo District Court in Hokkaido, northern Japan, and the Takamatsu District Court in Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan. The suits are the first of their kind, according to the organisation.

JASRAC claimed the barber shop in Sapporo has not paid its usage fees of about 30,000 yen (US$265) since around May 2014 and the restaurant in Takamatsu has not paid around 70,000 yen since around September 2007.

The organisation said its personnel visited the shops and explained the need to obtain permission.

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The request was rejected and civil conciliation did not work out.

“I am surprised by the lawsuit. We were only playing music with expired copyright,” the owner of the barber shop said.

At the press conference, Kenzo Ohashi, a managing director of JASRAC said, “The lawsuits were inevitable to keep fairness in managing copyright.” “We would like to solve the issues by explaining beforehand as much as we could,” he added.

According to JASRAC, about 1.3 million stores throughout the country are using music with copyright managed by JASRAC as background music and nearly 40 per cent of them are unauthorised.

Since 2015, 536 cases of civil conciliation over unauthorised usage of background music have been requested. In 24 cases, parties could not reach agreement.