And don’t even think of getting married in silence, because you’d be ripping off John Cage.

In this age of uncertainty, it’s good to know that some people are out there fighting the good fight, day in and day out. One such group is the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (JASRAC) a copyright watchdog for music published in Japan.

“Watchdog” is a bit of an understatement though. They’re more like a watchdog that got infected by the alien The Thing, in that they’re grotesquely unrelenting in their mission to take money from anyone playing anything resembling music within earshot of others.

▼ My hero

In May of 2017, JASRAC went after Kyoto University for posting the lyrics from “Blowin’ in the Wind” after they were used in a speech by president Juichi Yamagiwa. Although everyone in the world simply saw it as words of encouragement to young students entering the world, it was JASRAC who realized that this was actually piracy in disguise. Pretty sneaky, Juichi!

The following year, they uncovered a major piracy ring operating out of a barbershop in Sapporo, wherein a guy was playing music on his portable CD player, potentially costing some jazz artists fractions of yen (fractions of a US cent) in lost revenue. I think we can all agree the world became a better place after that one.

▼ They say every time a rainbow appears, it means a barber somewhere is getting fined for playing music

Now, JASRAC has their sights set on the biggest network of music piracy ever created: weddings!

It’s a well known fact that the entire institution of marriage is a sham, established with the sole purpose of recording music for free.

Think about it. It’s no coincidence that people play lots of music at weddings, and are always recording them. It’s the perfect crime, and just requires two people to “take one for the team” and unlock this veritable buffet of illicit music dubbing.

▼ I mean come on… Like I’m really going to go out and buy a Village People album? It was way easier to hold a wedding ceremony and subsequently have two children instead.

Starting in October, JASRAC will be holding a trial fee collection system where instead of demanding money per song, they will charge a flat rate per event (considering a “ceremony” and “reception” as two separate events). The fees will be imposed on the venue and/or company responsible for making a recording. One event will be levied at 5,000 yen for the usage of music during and 10,000 yen for the usage of music on subsequent DVDs made of the event, for a total of 15,000 yen (US$140) per event.

The news of JASRAC finally smashing this music piracy hustle which dates back to ancient times did not sit well with those online.

“Are they evil or just stupid?”
“They’re worse gangsters than NHK (Japan’s public broadcaster).”
“Why doesn’t the government do something about these extortionists?”
“What’s next? Funerals?”
“They are really doing a good job of killing music in Japan.”
“JASRAC is a hive of evil and needs to be dismantled.”

Personally, “extortionist” seems like a strong word. Remember, no one is obliged to pay the fee, it is only in cases where copyrighted music which is managed by JASRAC is played and recorded onto a medium during a wedding.

There’s a whole world of music that existed before current copyrights. For example, why not grace your wedding with one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Stephen Foster.

However, there will be no need to go to those lengths yet. This fee collection scheme is still in an experimental period to last until next year. Even after that, if it is adopted on a full scale it will still take some time before the impact it makes on companies’ bottom lines affects us the consumers through price hikes.

That should give me just enough time to squeeze in a divorce and second marriage so I can get a copy of that new Ed Sheeran album.

Source: AV News, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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