Representatives for a number of major music schools, particularly those (like Yamaha) involved in sale of musical instruments, and JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) spoke at initial hearings in the Tokyo District Court on September 6, 2017.
The music schools asserted that music practiced in a lesson is not truly intended for public hearing, which is how the Copyright Law defines a copyrighted “performance.” JASRAC insists that playing songs to which it has the license, for another person and for a profit, is covered by copyright and that musicians deserve their fair share from such “performances,” too.
The music schools appeal to the fear that the usage fees would harm the progress of music learning. Musicians have joined in this chorus. For example, pop star Utada Hikaru has “tweeted” that she wants music teachers and students to use her songs freely.
In broader perspective, Yamaha and other schools are not sole targets of a tightening of copyright enforcement on JASRAC’s part. Dance studios, karaoke halls, and fitness clubs have already been required to pay fees for the copyrighted songs they play. JASRAC sees the large music schools as the next target in a line of institutions that have been using copyrighted music unfairly until now. The courts will need to determine whether JASRAC is keeping in line with the Copyright Act in proceeding with this course, or if the schools claim legitimately to be substantively different from those other businesses.