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Bar Performer Arrested For Copyright Violations 282

Posted by kdawson
from the sieze-his-harmonica dept.
Edis Krad writes, "An elderly Japanese bar manager and performer has been arrested for playing copyrighted songs on his harmonica. From the article: 'Investigators accuse Toyoda of illegally performing 33 songs such as the Beatles' songs "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Yesterday," whose copyrights are managed by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers. He allegedly performed the songs on the harmonica with a female pianist at the bar he operated between August and September this year.' This is for all those kids who are learning chords on their guitars — be ready to pay fees for practicing 'Smoke On The Water.' This story seems to be legit, though it reads like an Onion piece. It's only being reported in the Mainichi Daily News via MSN.
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Bar Performer Arrested For Copyright Violations

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:19AM (#16784363) Homepage Journal

    It appears as though the threading code has broken since the comments went over id 16777215 (ie limit of 24bit numbers)

    The comments themselves are being added, but the internal link back to its parent has gone up the swanny.

    Is a 24bit value an acceptable database field length or is this a code problem?
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking&yahoo,com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:31AM (#16784605) Homepage Journal
    I tried posting a reply to his comment (just to see if it had been fixed), but apparently it has not. Judging by the fact that there are no replies on this thread, I'm guessing it's become somewhat universal.
  • ATTN: Benhocking (Score:2, Informative)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:36AM (#16784687) Homepage Journal
    My god I haven't seen threadless articles in slash since I last delved into the real archives.

    I think people aren't noticing it, but they will.
    Damn annoying when a technical fault occurs, and no I don't know why its marked as troll either.
  • What's the big deal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:43AM (#16784841) Homepage Journal
    Pretend you're a composer and you have just written the piece that is the pinnacle of your career. The New York Times says that your piece is the most musically perfect piece of classical music every played. Orchestras around the world want to perform your work. Do you have a right to charge them for it?

    Of course you do. If you didn't, then why would you write the music?

    "Copyright" is not a monolithic right -- it is a bundle of individual rights that includes the right to copy, the right to prepare derivative works and, important here, the right to perform the work publicly. Non-public "performances", like playing in your garage or humming, are excluded.

    There was a post questioning whether the performer or the bar should be liable. In general, the performer is directly liable for the infringement -- he's performing it publicly. But, because the bar owner could have prevented the infringement, but didn't and instead profited from it, the bar owner is probably liable as well. (It's called 'vicarious infringement.') Mainly for convenience, ASCAP and others typically deal with the bar owners rather than the performers.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:49AM (#16784961) Homepage Journal
    In the US, bars and other venues for live and recorded music "performance" (playing in public) usually pay a blanket subscription fee to ASCAP and BMI, which each collect royalties for the different artists they represent. They record a random setlist, either one day a month or so, or one hour a day for several days, depending on the royalty agency, to send to the royalty agencies. Then the agency sends fractions of the subscription for the whole month to the artists in the random playlist. The artist's pay has the royalties already deducted before being paid.

    Of course, that's the way it's supposed to work. In practice, many venues, especially smaller ones, don't even bother sending in their royalty subscriptions. And BMI/ASCAP don't represent all artists - SOCAN represents lots of Canadian artists, there are other even tinier agencies with their own exclusive artist list, and of course many smaller-producing artists don't register with any agency. The venues that do report usually don't report the random samples. When they do, they often just make them up. And of course those samples are not really random, or represent their total performance lists, except in venues which play the same 5 songs over and again (there are certainly too many of those). But artists with fewer repeats get left out of the sample, and the biggest artists obviously get even more favoritism, and therefore much more royalties - the little ones get some random trickle, if anything. And then the agencies often don't pay their artists, who have no way to know how much they're being cheated, while the agencies keep a much larger percentage of the collected royalties than necessary, for supporting their fat, lazy, lying, cheating, stealing corporations and shareholders. And then there are the gangs that blackmail venues by threatening them with "royalty enforcement" (which can stop their music activities), no matter what their compliance, if the venue doesn't pay the gang the extra bribes - while the gang pockets any legit payments instead of sending it to the agencies.

    I've worked in and with the music industry for over 20 years. Including some of the biggest promoters/producers in the US. Some of my best friends still make their living in the criminal music industry, mostly musicians, but some venue owners/operators and some even label execs. They prefer the European model, which is mostly the same, but which at least requires the venue to report every song played. Which at least starts with a more fair requirement, but which is abused about as much as in the US.

    The industry wants everyone moved to a blanket license - covering everyone, even if not a "bulk rate". Their holy grail is music recognition software, which reports every person/place's performance for network royalty payments. When they can, they will make everyone's phones monitor everyone all the time, reporting any music we perform and taxing us. That includes playing recordings, pianos, singing in the shower, "Happy Birthday"©, gospel in church, probably even air guitar. All tracked, charged, stored, datamined, and used to micromarket everything to you, along with your favorite songs.
  • Since... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BJH (11355) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:52AM (#16785019)
    ...there's a lot of stupid replies saying "it must be a hoax", "copyright infringement isn't a criminal offense", "why should he be arrested for playing a couple of songs", etc., and since replies seem to be broken...

    - The guy arrested had been running the bar and doing live performances there since 1981.
    - JASRAC had approached him repeatedly since 2001 to cough up the required fees for his performances (just like every other bar, club, pub and watering hole in Japan).
    - He had continually refused to pay those fees.
    - In Japan, copyright infringement is covered by both civil and criminal law.
    - JASRAC went to the police and asked them to enforce the law.

    That's about it. He knew what the law is, and he kept on breaking it, so he got arrested.
  • by Ezzy Ezbourne (1025029) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:21AM (#16785651)
    Actually this story reminds me of a similar one, that just occured in France about 6 months ago.

    During the departure party of a retiring school teacher, a choral of 6 years old kids sang a french song which title would litterally translate to "Goodbye mister professor" (the choice of this song was for obvious reason).
    No money was ever involved in this case and the only audiance was composed of parents and teachers. Unfortunately since it happened in a very small town, the story was related in a very local newspaper and reached the hear of the music copyright nazies around here, the SACEM.
    The school was fined a couple of hundred euros for having performed "copyrighted" music in public without authorization.

    Ironically, when the very writer and performer of this song heard of this sinister joke he decided that he'd be paying the fine in place of the school...

    PS: Appologies if this post ever appears a second time but threaded answers seem to be foobar.
  • by pikine (771084) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:28AM (#16785783) Journal
    1. This happened in Tokyo, Japan, not in America.
    2. Back in 2001, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers brought Toyoda to court and obtained a restraining order that prohibited him from playing a number of copyrighted songs in public.
    3. Toyoda still repeatedly violated the court order, so he was finally arrested by the police.

    I'm strongly against police raid to curb copyright violators, but I agree that if a restraining order is in place, then you better think twice before you do it again.

    The issue here is if a court should ever grant restraining order on copyright violations, but it doesn't look like Toyoda bothered to contest it at all.

  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:37AM (#16785905) Homepage Journal
    The last time I checked copyright infringement was not a criminal offense but a civil offense.

    That may not be true in all countries. In for example Sweden (and indeed most of Europe), it's a criminal offense.

  • by mbeckman (645148) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:56AM (#16791696)
    practice .ne. perform

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes. -- Dr. Warren Jackson, Director, UTCS

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