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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?
  • RIAA lovin' it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Salvance (1014001) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:19AM (#16784379) Homepage Journal
    Now that there's international precedence, expect to see the RIAA lobbying for similarly harsh enforcement of copyright law around here (OK, maybe not this bad). The trouble with copyright infringement cases like these is where to draw the line. Logically a band covering another song in a large venue for a paying crowd should pay some type of usage fees, while little Johnny shouldn't need to pay anything for playing the Star Wars theme at his small piano recital. But everywhere between those two extremes it gets pretty murky.
  • Serves him right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveCar (189300) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:21AM (#16784407)

    Stealing from poor, hardworking, underpaid, struggling artists like mulit-multi-millionaire Sir Paul.
  • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@hotmail . c om> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:21AM (#16784417)
    The difference here is that this guy plays the tunes in his business establishment. One could reasonably argue that he does derive financial benefit from having music as a perk for his patrong.

    Unless the guitar-playing kids are imposing a cover charge when playing for Aunt Sally, I think they are free from worry...

    ...for now.
  • by tomknight (190939) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:22AM (#16784427) Homepage Journal
    "This is for all those kids who are learning chords on their guitars - be ready to pay fees for practicing 'Smoke On The Water.'"

    Every cloud has a silver lining....

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:22AM (#16784443) Homepage Journal
    Denied!
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:23AM (#16784453)
    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.

    This sounds too much like a joke. In theory, this is supposed to be impossible. In the USA, and one would presume Japan as well, bars/nightclubs are responsible for paying fees to composer societies (this includes ASCAP and BMI in the USA) to cover exactly this sort of thing - a performer performing copywritten material. In the USA I've heard of ASCAP and BMI going after bars and nightclubs who didn't pay them money, but never performers. Again, I can't speak for Japanese law, but in the USA it is clear that it is the owner of the performance venue, not the artist, who has to pay this fee.
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwhamann (598229) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:24AM (#16784469)
    Bars in the United States pay either ASCAP or RIAA (I think it's ASCAP) a flat rate for playing songs in their establishments. The association actually has undecover monitors that check out bars and other venues and then sue if the establishment isn't paying royalties. I really don't have a problem with this part ... but arrests seem to go overboard.
  • Parody? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sporkinum (655143) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:25AM (#16784475)
    Apparently parody is not protected under Japanese law.

    An old geezer on harmonica and a underage Japanese school girl on piano? ;)
  • I have noticed (to much LOLing this morning) that nearly every article on /. is tagged with "itsatrap"... what gives? Doesn't this kinda defeat the purpose of the tagging system in the first place? At the very least, it was highly amusing to see every article tagged with "itsatrap." Maybe we should lobby slashdot to legitimize it with an admiral ackbar icon.
  • Yes and the copyright owner [straightdope.com] needs the money!
  • Crazy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxci (3530) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:26AM (#16784513)
    What exactly was he 'stealing' here? An idea?

    It's not like if he recorded what he's playing and then sell it on it would risk losing sales to the original artists.

    His actions had zero impact on sales for those artists/labels in the unlikely event it had any impact at all it would have been slightly positive (e.g. someone gets tune stuck in their head and seeks out the original).
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:27AM (#16784533)
    If the story is true, even if this guy didn't pay his licensing fees, does he really need to be arrested? The last time I checked copyright infringement was not a criminal offense but a civil offense. Large scale bootleggers are usually charged with something more substantial like fraud, mail fraud, etc which make their actions criminal. IANAL. Somebody inform me on this.
  • HOAX! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by InfinityWpi (175421) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:27AM (#16784543)
    This story shows up at least once a month. It's a hoax. Last time, it was a bar being sued into bankruptcy for letting a local band play covers.

    C'mon, Slashdot should know better than to fall for these things...
  • by stevew (4845)
    Yep - if you perform music for a fee -then in the US you are expected to have paid for the right to perform the music to the copyright holders. There are some caveats to that from my understanding, but generally that is the standard.

    Any band that performs a number written by someone else is expected to have paid a use fee to the writter.

    Now the obvious difference between someone practicing and someone performing for pay is - no money involved in the first instance. So I buy a piece of sheet music - this
  • Let's see if this comment actually sticks. Perhaps it's been fixed now? (I have no idea why you were marked "Troll", either.)
  • by jmyers (208878) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:29AM (#16784575)
    This happens all the time. ASCAP & BMI have reps that go around to bars and start billing the owners for public performance. I have been told that they rarely approach bands but almost every bar that has live or even recorded music, juke box etc get hit by bills from the song publishing companies.

  • I don't know if there were guitars involved in the french case I heard of, but definitely was not a for-benefit infrigement.
    A few monthes ago, some children sang for the retirement celebration of a teacher (so nothing business-related), and the SACEM (french RIAA) sued the school in the name of the protection of the autors. In the end, the song author himself paid the fine to put an end to that BS (and avoid sharing the bad press). Of course, it was never planned that he may get a single cent from the fine.
  • Never mind the music, have you seen the guys name? "Mr Toyoda [toyota.com] " indeed! He should be up for trademark infringement!
  • by Otter (3800)
    My guess is:

    1) The performer in this case is also the owner.

    2) He wasn't paying his Japanese-ASCAP-equivalent tab at all, not just violating some Beatles-specific issue.

    The whole thing sounds like a straightforward copyright violation case with the added comedy value of "elderly Japanese man". (Apparently the equivalent of our "single mothers", who are also presumed to be above copyright law.)
  • It's Japan we're talking about here. That's perfectly normal.
  • 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.
  • admiral ackbar, lol. now i'll picture him every time i see that stupid tag. hopefully soon everyone will start putting "yes no maybe fud notfud" on every single article so that this broken tagging system that everyone uses to state their opinion will have to be retired.
  • "while little Johnny shouldn't need to pay anything for playing the Star Wars theme at his small piano recital."

    Don't let Lucasfilm know. They'll sue the harmonica player over his name. If that won't get him, the car company will. Followed by the sewing machine company.
  • by l4m3z0r (799504)
    Actually, I believe Michael Jackson owns all the Beatles songs, so he ain't stealing anything from Sir Paul.
  • by krell (896769)
    "What exactly was he 'stealing' here? An idea?"

    Did you find any references to theft or stealing in the article? I didn't. Looks like nobody is even accusing him of stealing.
  • ATTN: Benhocking (Score:2, Informative)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315)
    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.
  • by M-G (44998)
    RIAA doesn't have anything to do with that. It's ASCAP and BMI that are the big players in this sort of thing. They represent the composers and collect royalties on their behalf for public performance of their works. Most venues pay an annual fee to those two organizations that covers this. Most composers are members of either ASCAP or BMI, so paying both organizations covers nearly anything that would be performed.
  • http://news.tbs.co.jp/headline/tbs_headline342099 7 .html [tbs.co.jp]
    http://news.tbs.co.jp/ram/news3420997_11.ram [tbs.co.jp]
    http://news.tbs.co.jp/asx/news3420997_12.asx [tbs.co.jp]

    He says he didn't have the money to pay off the JASRAC [jasrac.or.jp] mafia for da rights ya see.
  • by DerGeist (956018)
    Interestingly enough, it's illegal to perform "the birthday song" [snopes.com] publicly as it is copyrighted material. This is why all the restaurants sing their own home-made birthday songs when they embarrass you needlessly. So, while it may seem absurd, there is already precedent in the US for this type of thing.
  • "at the bar he operated between "

    the owner of the venue and the performer..

    maybe they sued his 'operator' hat, not his 'performer' hat.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:39AM (#16784761) Homepage
    As the conviction rate in Japan exceeds 99% [repec.org], we can be almost certain that this dangerous international economic terrorist is going to be kept off the streets for a long time. At last, Japanese listeners can be assured of hearing only 100% approved covers by the latest Pop Puppet of the Hour!
  • Simple solution: stop listening to this newfangled "rock and roll" stuff and just focus on classical. Haydn and Mozart's copyrights ran out long ago, so you can practice and perform their work for free. (Granted, some of the newer classical stuff is still under copyright, but it mostly sucks anyway.)

  • by Rogerborg (306625)
    Incidentally, I can set you up with some of divxen of old geezers having their harmonicas blown by underage Japanese school girls.
  • by zotz (3951)
    "The difference here is that this guy plays the tunes in his business establishment. One could reasonably argue that he does derive financial benefit from having music as a perk for his patrong."

    Right, I think the issue is not his playing, but his owning an establishment where protected music is played. This little "trick" is why more musicians are not up in arms over how copyrights are operated. Musicians are generally not responsible for paying royalties on songs they cover live.

    Now if the musicians were
  • Free Culture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MojoRilla (591502) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:43AM (#16784839)
    As has been pointed out, this particular case is covered by bars paying ASCAP fees.
    But this brings up an excellent point. In a culture where all intellectual "property" is owned, can we be far from though crimes by just humming a song?

    The irony is thick here. George Harrison, a member of the Beatles, was sued and lost for unintentionally copying "My Sweet Lord" from the Chiffons' song "He's So Fine" [wikipedia.org]. It was a major blow to Harrison.

    The problem is that the record companies that own the copyrights own monopolies on rights, and can conceivably charge as much as they want for these rights. The arms race has already started for movie licenses for songs. In the commentary for the Blues Brother's, John Landis comments that a movie of this type will probably never be made again, because the astronomical cost of music licensing.

    The only conceivable long term solution is free culture. Society will still find ways to reward authors for their contributions without the current licensing nightmare. That is the only way culture will be able to keep evolving. The mix-ups, mash-downs, movies and cultural references in the future depend on having unencumbered source material. And the more the copyrights holders squeeze, the quicker this will happen.
  • 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 Lumpy (12016)
    Then every single bar band and just starting indy band is not done for. That is ALL they play is other people's tunes. (A buddy of mine even covers Neutral Milk Hotel to the horror of bar patrons)

    Personally, I hope the RIIA clamps onto this and tries even more draconian BS... maybe then the public will wake up or look away from their tv's long enough to be slightly outraged.
  • by ronanbear (924575)
    It's the latest slashdot meme

    By tomorrow every article will also be tagged "crywolf"
  • Um for the pure enjoyment of writing music???
  • In this case the bar owner is also the performer.
  • not quite, but almost [guitartab.cc] (Guitartab.cc used to be the place to go for guitar tabs until it was taken down for copyright infringment)
  • I have two comments that show up in my messages, but not in this news item because it looks like the ones I responded to have vanished. At least when I click on "parent", I get a sort of null message.
  • NOT! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BJH (11355)
    Nice one, dipshit. It's genuine. The original Japanese article has his full name and address, and it's been on all the major Japanese news services since this afternoon (he was arrested this morning).
  • everywhere between those two extremes it gets pretty murky.

    Unfortunately, it takes a judge to work out which case is fair use and which case isn't. If the song was performed for financial gain, for example, a judge might look at it as infringement rather than fair use. On the other hand, if Johnny "cutely" puts out a tip hat for his recital, a judge might still view that as fair use. In the end, it's all up to the common sense of the judge.

    Of course, this entire story might still turn up to be another Onion

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:47AM (#16784927)
    ...George Michael was arrested for playing "Come Together" on a pink oboe in a public lavatory.
  • by pubjames (468013)
    a perk for his patrong

    That's my phrase of the day!

  • Trademark (Score:4, Funny)

    by Peyna (14792) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:48AM (#16784949) Homepage
    Well, with a name like "Toyoda," he's lucky they didn't add a charge for Trademark Dilution.
  • Investigators accuse Toyoda of illegally performing 33 songs
    It was a boy scout who raised the issue with the Japanese branch of the RIAA. He received enough brownie points to last a lifetime.
  • 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.
  • However, one much wonder what financial and social benefit is achieved by the enforcement agency, who are using their special "Spy-Kids" branded spy equipment to hunt down and prosecute these obvious law-breakers.

    I could also argue that by learning to play guitar by learning Beatles songs, a kid is learning a life skill that he/she may be able to eventually monetize. Playing others' songs in your bedroom may also enhance ones creativity or inspire others to write - and hello, that shit shouldn't be free, y
  • by ettlz (639203)
    Does anybody use the tagging system to search stories anyway?
  • by sdaemon (25357)
    just because all the articles are tagged with "itsatrap" doesn't mean they aren't all really traps. :)
  • The article seems quite clear, the guy was the MANAGER of the place, that he was the performer too was probably inconsequential; it just makes for a better fear-inducing story...
  • by ExE122 (954104) *
    The Waffle House has a jukebox that plays music. They make up to $0.25 per song for their financial benefit.

    And what about a Karaoke bar? Isn't that a business establishment that attracts customers by having people sing songs?

    I've also been to a piano bar where a couple of guys play just about any song by request... Putting down a couple bucks with your request gets them to play it sooner.

    Should I call the police?

    --
    "A man is asked if he is wise or not. He replies that he is otherwise" ~Mao Ze
  • 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 ColdCoffee (664886) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#16785025)
    "Yesterday, Rife was such an easy game to Pray..."
  • by slughead (592713) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#16785029) Homepage Journal
    Investigators accuse Toyoda of illegally performing 33 songs such as the Beatles

    Toyota motor company sued as well, claiming that playing bad harmonica under the name "Toyoda" qualifies as defamation of character and slander.
  • by kabocox (199019)
    This sounds too much like a joke. In theory, this is supposed to be impossible. In the USA, and one would presume Japan as well, bars/nightclubs are responsible for paying fees to composer societies (this includes ASCAP and BMI in the USA) to cover exactly this sort of thing - a performer performing copywritten material. In the USA I've heard of ASCAP and BMI going after bars and nightclubs who didn't pay them money, but never performers. Again, I can't speak for Japanese law, but in the USA it is clear tha
  • by Anubis350 (772791)
    seems to work now
  • But I did get a message that you posted a reply. Oh, and I can read your reply - which you'd probably guess if you're reading THIS reply.
  • This is for all those kids who are learning chords on their guitars -- be ready to pay fees for practicing 'Smoke On The Water.'

    Gotta love those posters who don't understand basic copyright law. Practicing is not performance.

    Copyright law has always granted songwriters the rights to performance of their art. In fact, this used to be the primary right demanded by musical artists, back when performance was the main form of deriving money from their work. And it's still a big deal. Madonna has no rig

  • by dschuetz (10924)
    It was a boy scout who raised the issue with the Japanese branch of the RIAA. He received enough brownie points to last a lifetime.

    .....must....avoid....boy scout / brownie.....jokes.....

    -gaaahhh!-

  • If the story is true, even if this guy didn't pay his licensing fees, does he really need to be arrested? The last time I checked copyright infringement was not a criminal offense but a civil offense. Large scale bootleggers are usually charged with something more substantial like fraud, mail fraud, etc which make their actions criminal. IANAL. Somebody inform me on this.

    I can't inform you on Japan, but you are wrong about the US. Criminal copyright infringement has existed in the US since at least 1976 a

  • by sakusha (441986)

    The only conceivable long term solution is free culture. Society will still find ways to reward authors for their contributions without the current licensing nightmare. That is the only way culture will be able to keep evolving. The mix-ups, mash-downs, movies and cultural references in the future depend on having unencumbered source material.

    Our society is at stake, it cannot evolve without free and unencumbered rights for some 73 year old Japanese guy to wheeze out Beatles songs on a harmonica in his bar

  • The owner is the performer, in this case. At least as I read it.
  • The guy owned the venue, so the performer and the owner would be one and the same. Also, he had a court injunction against him for doing the same thing earlier.
  • Or from poor, hardworking, underpaid, struggling copyright holders like Michael Jackson, who actually holds the rights to about half of the Beatles' songs.
  • The write-up for this story says that the performer was also the bar manager. He would presumably be responsible for ensuring that his venue had the appropriate licenses.
  • by siegesama (450116)
    Ok see, THAT is what the funny mod is for.
  • by Anubis350 (772791)
    or not... I'm guessing this and other replies will be visible later though Otherwise slashdot is going to fast start resembling fark Though I just checked your profile, I *think* that you were replying to me, but it's so, uh, farked up, dunno
  • going after bars and nightclubs who didn't pay them money, but never performers

    RTFA. He is the bar - it's his operation.

    And it's not like someone was walking by his business, heard Beatles tunes, and called in an air strike. Just like everyone here says, it's up to the copyright holders and their representatives actually police this stuff, right? So, they did - they asked him to stop. He didn't. They got an injunction against him using this material in his business without permission, and he refused. The ar
  • An elderly Japanese bar manager and performer
    Sounds like they did just that.
  • by erroneus (253617)
    In this case, the performer was also bar manager. I didn't read the article, but I did read the slashdot summary...
  • Actually, they can't charge whatever they want. Radio & public performaces like this are covered under a separate portion of the copyright law - they pay to an organization & the organization distributes to the artists/owners. The fee is set by the government & makes no distinction between pop or classical.
  • Copyright does not just mean you cannot "copy"; it also includes public performance. You might have noticed that karaoke tracks are more expensive than the original song tracks. That's because you are paying for the right to perform that work in public.
  • by ScentCone (795499)
    but arrests seem to go overboard

    But the arrest wasn't for not paying. It was violating a court injunction after he previously refused to obtain permission to use the copyrighted stuff in his business. Indirectly, yes, for not paying... but he was totally aware of what he was doing.
  • Because bands have forgotten why they are popular in the first place. I understand their feeling that they "own" the songs but come on its your fans. Hurt your fans you will hurt yourself.
  • if you RTFA, the artist in question *is* the owner of the venue.

  • ... considering his name is, in Japanese, identical to Toyota (the car manufacturer/business conglomerate, and incidentally also a common last name, like Toyoda). You just have to know based on the person/company which pronunciation it has. This is one of the reasons Toyota generally spells the Toyota in katakana (a set of characters generally used for writing foreign words, italics, and other strange edge cases) rather than kanji (Chinese characters, like a name would typically be written in), because th
  • by Rydia (556444)
    At least in the US, most jurisdictions have statutes providing for prosection of illicit copying or illicit distribution. They're not usually pursued, however, partially because it is generally a federal matter, and the feds have that shiny hammer that is wire and mail fraud.
  • He allegedly performed the songs on the harmonica with a female pianist at the bar he operated between August and September this year
    Emphasis mine. You not only failed to read TFA, but even the summary!
  • by ScentCone (795499)
    Apparently parody is not protected under Japanese law.

    An old geezer on harmonica and a underage Japanese school girl on piano? ;)


    I don't know... Japanese entertainment culture and the related sensibilities seems like a parody of itself. But they take it so seriously that it can't be a joke - it's just plain freakin' inscrutible most of the time. Now let me get back to my cup of Wonderment Green Unlimited Magnificence Jasmin Most Happiness Tea. I know it's good for me, because the googly-eyed character
  • by VoxCombo (782935)
    this story sounds like a joke (If not, then Japan's copyright laws are much more draconian thant US laws) but I'll answer your question anyway.

    Songwriters write songs, which can be used in any number of ways. When a bar wants to have performers play live music that somebody else wrote, they pay for the right to use songs (ASCAP and BMI issue blanket licenses to venues so this is much easier than it sounds).

    The bar makes money from the work of the songwriters, and thus the songwriters should be compensa
  • Now I don't know anything about law in Japan, but I don't see how this could hold water here in the states. First of all, has no one ever heard of a 'cover band'?? Seriously, if every band out there paid royalties to play covers, than it is doubtful that any unsigned bands ever would perform them. As a matter of example, Tucson, AZ hosts a yearly event called The Great Arizona Coverup, where local bands all pick a group and perform covers. People pay to come to the event, and I can again guarantee that al
  • by Himring (646324)
    It warms my heart to hear someone argue the virtues of capitalism. If I make money and so happen to, in part, quote a copyrighted book or sing a copyrighted song, then I can be sued. After all, I'm not sharing the income with the owner/author of the work. Lemme see how the bar owner handling this thing the right way would go:

    11/09/06

    Dear Mr. MmCartney,

    I am a big fan of the Beatles and I own and manage a bar in a back alley on the more average side of town. I live in a trailer and drive a 1994 H
  • by dr_dank (472072)
    In the video release of Waynes World, the studio couldn't get the rights to that snippet from Stairway to Heaven for a reasonable fee, so they substituted it with a couple bars of generic guitar sound.

    The 10 second scene that was a clever joke in the theatrical release makes completely no sense on the dvd and is quickly forgotten.
  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:13AM (#16785459)
    Again, I can't speak for Japanese law, but in the USA it is clear that it is the owner of the performance venue, not the artist, who has to pay this fee.

    This is true, and the reason for the dumbest laws of them all. As a guitarist, a musician can not go into an establishment and start playing. By law even. Becuase regardless of what your playing, public domain, copyrighted, or personal compositions/arrangments et al. the owner of the establishment is legally liable. This is why you always see street performers, out in the cold, rather than in a cozy coffee shop sipping a coffee inbetween measures.

    While there are places where one can randomly play, the numbers just aren't sufficient. Very very few coffee shops permit a random musician to play at their whim while on site. Also, music stores obviously have to pay some sort of license or have legal ability for the fact that most musicians won't purchase an instrument without playing it first. Then we run into the disconcerting fact of a general music shop on a busy day... regardless of how good everyone is, none of them are in rhythm or harmony with the next making the entire experience rather discordant. So even if there are ways around it, and while some places do permit such acts, they aren't spread out enough where it's pleasant for patrons and musicians to just casually sit down and pluck a few strings whenever they get the itching too.

    What is interesting, is sometimes it's not so easy to determine if you can play your instrument in public. Some vast and open parks are actually private property... and here we go again. If a sizeable congregation forms due to your playing... cops might construe it (regardless of technicalities) as a concert or formal performance and you have to have this license, that permission... all kinds of crap. You get penalized, if you are actually good but aren't serving to fatten some super affluent socio-path (i.e. Major Record Labels). Society generally penalizings where you can play if you aren't good... and if you are merely "tolerable" then and only then are you OK.

    There used to be a very good singer that would perform on the street corner down town San Diego near Horton Plaza years ago. The only real problem, was that he was of "professional" calibur... people actually enjoyed listening to him. And, as a musican, I must concede to the mans skills. Becuase he was very good, becuase he did make plenty of money on the street corner (and lots of it), becuase people would clap, and stand for a moment to catch the next verse... he was arrested for illegal performance or somethign of that nature and I never saw him since. Meanwhile, lots of medocre musicians up and down the same street are left unbothered.
  • by uncadonna (85026)
    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.

    So far so good. I have no problems with this up to this point.

    If you didn't, then why would you write the music?

    Suddenly my jaw hits the ground. Are people really this messed u

  • by tepples (727027)

    MojoRilla wrote in http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=205709&ci d =16784839 [slashdot.org] :

    George Harrison, a member of the Beatles, was sued and lost for unintentionally copying "My Sweet Lord" from the Chiffons' song "He's So Fine". It was a major blow to Harrison. [snip] The only conceivable long term solution is free culture.

    So how do I create free culture without running a significant risk of making the same mistake that George Harrison made?

  • I have noticed (to much LOLing this morning) that nearly every article on /. is tagged with "itsatrap"... what gives? Doesn't this kinda defeat the purpose of the tagging system in the first place? At the very least, it was highly amusing to see every article tagged with "itsatrap." Maybe we should lobby slashdot to legitimize it with an admiral ackbar icon.

    I have noticed that nearly every article tagged itsatrap is accompanied by someone complaining about it.

    Tag it appropriately.

  • by gstoddart (321705)

    The difference here is that this guy plays the tunes in his business establishment. One could reasonably argue that he does derive financial benefit from having music as a perk for his patrong.

    Well, bands have been playing covers in bars for decades now.

    Do you expect me to believe that all bar owners are paying royalties when someone performs a cover song in a bar? I would be shocked if that were true (well, part of me wouldn't I suppose since the RIAA has their grubby fingers in everywhere). I understand

  • by gurps_npc (621217)
    The fact that it shows up once a month is not proof that it is a hoax.

    Every month or so, my local newspaper runs a story about how drug dealers were arrested at a schol.

    Does that mean it is a Hoax? It could not possibly be that, yes, people commit crimes every month and yes, cops arrest them every month.

  • cfulmer wrote in http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=205709&ci d =16784841 [slashdot.org] :

    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?

    Alternate scenario: Pretend your grandfather was a composer and he had written the piece that is the pinnacle of his ca

  • The difference here is that this guy plays the tunes in his business establishment. One could reasonably argue that he does derive financial benefit from having music as a perk for his patrong.

    My gut response is: "so what?" People should not be restricted from deriving financial benefit from using other people's works...especially works that are so old. These kinds of laws are just morally reprehensible. It's one thing to try to rip someone off by passing their work off as your own; it's quite another t

  • 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 Ashtead (654610) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:31AM (#16785811) Journal

    So a harmonica has become an instrument of copyright infringement now? And at a criminal level? If he were passing out sheet music or recordings of the original songs that's one thing, but just (as per the featured article) playing music himself? Even though much of that music wasn't even arranged for the harmonica? There's gotta be something more to this. Failure to pay royalty fees or some such ...

    Woody Guthrie once put the legend "This machine kills fascists" on his guitar, amazing how things have changed since them...

  • 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 tgeller (10260) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:59AM (#16786311) Homepage
    O.K., I give up. Man breaks law, man gets arrested. Happens every day.

    Is this somehow different because he's Japanese? Elderly? Using a harmonica? Someone clue me in here.

    Oh, right, it's because of some vague, imagined connection to DRM or some other fantasy of /. editors. You believe that, since you're entitled to make a copy of your legally purchased CD, that means no musicians anywhere should ever get paid. Got it.

    ASCAP is almost 100 years old, and BMI is nearly 50. They have *thousands* of court cases, based on hundreds of years of precedent in common law, that solidify their rights. The right, for example, to collect fees for performance of its members' works. You have a problem with that? Go live somewhere it ain't so. Somewhere like... well, nowhere, really.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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