Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) just won a case against the karaoke bars and is now going after clubs.
Lawsuits as a communication form seems like a common practice in this industry these days...asahi.comCHANGING ITS TUNE: It's closing time
"I thought it was a new kind of fraud," said Naoki Kasugai, who runs Daytrip, a nightclub that offers live music in Nagoya. He received a letter from JASRAC in summer 2003 along with an invoice for a monthly charge of 28,350 yen in copyright fees, covering the entire time his bar has been open since 1997. It totaled a whopping 2.32 million yen.
Kasugai was shocked and puzzled. He had never heard from JASRAC before. He figured someone was trying to con him.
But after receiving a second invoice from JASRAC, he called to find out what was going on.
A JASRAC official came by in person to explain: "The bands you hire have likely played covers of songs by other composers. We want you to pay the copyright fees on those songs."
"How many cover songs does this account for?" asked Kasugai.
"We don't know how many copyrighted songs were played here," the official replied. "So we are not charging for each of them. Instead, we are charging on a monthly basis."
But JASRAC is ready to rock and roll, even resorting to court battles.
"Lawsuits in themselves are an effective way to spread our message," a JASRAC official says.