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Yamaha Music to file lawsuit against JASRAC over copyright fees

In response to the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC)'s plan to extract copyright fees from music school performances, the music school Yamaha Music Foundation has hit back by saying that it intends to file a lawsuit against the group.

    In the lawsuit, which is planned to be filed with the Tokyo District Court, the music school is looking for confirmation that there is no obligation to pay copyright fees on any songs that are performed in schools.

    JASRAC made its controversial announcement on Feb. 2 -- triggering voices of protest from music schools such as Yamaha Music Foundation. Significantly, it also drew some criticism from certain musicians as well, who would actually stand to gain financially from JASRAC's move as they often hold the performance rights.

    For example, on Feb. 4, the critically acclaimed musician Hikaru Utada tweeted, "If any teacher or student wants to use one of my songs during a school lesson, then I'd like them to use that song for free and not worry about things like copyright fees."

    JASRAC has been intending to extract performance-related copyright fees that amount to 2.5 percent of the annual revenue received from music class tuition, from January 2018 onward. In addition, the organization has been planning to submit official documentation concerning its copyright fee collection plans to the Agency for Cultural Affairs as early as July.

    Following JASRAC's announcement in February, music schools have taken action, setting up an organization designed to protect music education, and insisting that, "Any performances of songs are for educational purposes, and do not affect the issue of performance rights."

    At a general meeting scheduled for May 30, Yamaha is hoping to involve other music schools and form a group lawsuit. It is thought that several companies are considering joining Yamaha, and that they will act as soon as JASRAC moves forward with their action.

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