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Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Another thief has been put to justice by the Law. Phew. (Sarcasm in case you didn't get that...)

Lucky he didn't sing Happy Birthday too, or he'd be in even bigger trouble.

Mainichi Daily News
Elderly harmonica player arrested for performing copyrighted songs at bar

A 73-year-old bar manager who illegally performed copyrighted tunes by the Beatles and other artists on the harmonica was arrested Thursday on suspicion of violating the Copyright Law, police said.

Arrested was Masami Toyoda, of Tokyo's Nerima-ku. He has reportedly admitted to the allegations against him.

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.

Via CB


One has to wonder what exactly JASRAC hopes to gain from this. The negative publicity will surely balance out any royalties they might get. Between this and having videos by its member artists pulled from YouTube, thus robbing themselves of invaluable free advertising, it may be time that any clever fellows in the organization start to have doubts about its management.

This is a defiant, flippant question, but:

Did anyone record the set he played?

I figure that'd be a hot bootleg!

A couple years ago a divey bar in my old neighborhood in San Francisco had to stop doing their Sunday blues bands due to ASCAP law suits. There were rarely more than 20 people there on a good day

"Something touched me deep inside the day ... the music ... died"

Please, someone in Japan smash your Beatles CDs and send their remains to the relevant copyright holders.

well, breaking stuff you already paid for doesn't really help. better prevent other people from doing the same mistake ...

Hmm. If I want to sing some Beatles song in public legally, what do I have to do? Is there a website I can go to and pay?

The reason I bring this up is that, instead of just leaving one side shaking fists and the other heads, maybe we can find an amicable middle ground by making it really convenient and affordable play and/or use copyrighted media. Maybe this is a good business opportunity as well.

If the venue pays a music publisher... in the US ASCAP or BMI, I think you're covered. Otherwise, the venue should pay a license fee to them.

If you want to do it somewhere weird, like online, it may end up being much more difficult since they don't cover that. You will have to approach the license holder directly and negotiate a license I think.

There should be an allowance for small time usage of copyrighted material in a form like this. It's not like an old guy playing some Beatles tunes will put anyone out of business, in this case Wacko Jacko himself seeing he owns most of the Beatles stock, meaning that Paul Mccarthy has to pay him :) maybe there is some justice?

Right. This kind of crackdown is just crazy, not only from the p.o.v. of old guys getting in trouble for playing Beatles' tunes on the harmonica, but in view of the huge opportunities music publishers and record companies are missing. In their crackdown, they might even be eliminating former sources of free advertising. Think of all the retro kitsch that continues to sell because people hear it in a bar and are reminded of it.
It's not like anyone was going to pay royalties on harmonics Beatles' tunes in a bar or is going to go out and buy an album because they can no longer hear such a performance. At least if JASCAP were going to make money in this, I'd understand. As it is, the litigation cost them more than they would have gotten in royalties.

This is how JASRAC maintains their insanely tight control over performing rights in Japan. I recently helped a young muscian to get 'discovered'. In the process she sang covers of original songs and posted them on her personal site. She received notification letters from JASRAC to remove the covered songs as they violated the performance copyright.

What remains in question. If it's her personal website, and she's not performing, per se, does JASRAC have the power to prevent anyone from 'covering' or singing popular music? If they follow the same rules across the board, then literally they could sue you for humming, singing or whistling a tune on the train!!

Go figure - but then, without JASRAC, the walled garden of the Japanese music machine wouldn't exist. Their heavy hand approach and limitations to entry by many indie and young artists simply stifle the music industry in Japan.

What kind of law is this?!

I can't believe an old man is arrested for covering music.

And to think that the Beatles were so popular in Japan, you guys should really throw away all your beatles albums and download mp3s in protest.

This is a defiant, flippant question, but:

Did anyone record the set he played?

I figure that'd be a hot bootleg!

From my own experience, when I hear a song, performed in any way, whether on the radio, or by someone singing it on the street or at a bar, a lot of times it reminds me of how cool that song was, and I want to hear the original, so I go buy the CD. I have a ton of CDs, and I keep collecting more and more, because I love the originals.

So, what makes me buy all these CDs, month after month? Hearing someone do the song, whether the original or someone covering it. It doesn't matter to me if it's someone else covering it, because then I am reminded of the song from the 60s or whenever it was that I used to love but had forgotten about, so I go and buy it.

Some people might think it's nuts to buy so much music, but I probably buy about a dozen vintage original CDs per month, some months only 8 or 10, but you get the idea. Month after month, year after year, I am buying a LOT of original, legal, OK, music.

Why? Because I heard the song someplace, and often I may have heard it sung or played by someone just casually playing it, like a street musician, or someone at a bar, or someone singing a tune on the bus. Are you gonna make everyone who is happy and sings a tune on a bus stop singing everything? Especially when it's FREE advertising, reminds people like me who are collectors (and I know there are many) with a FREE memory jog, of that song I jot a note to myself to get at the record store or on eBay or wherever.

I'm 60 now, and I remember some really GREAT musical times during the 50s and 60s, and now that I am established with a good sound system for really hearing the CDs and vinyl LPs well, and I have enough extra money to buy music regularly, well, I am indulging my love of the music from that era, and have collected probably thousands of CDs and LPs by this point.

My point is, the FREE ADVERTISING these record labels get by all the people singing and playing the covers is what very often gets me to go find the original and buy it. What in the world is wrong with the thinking of the record labels that they would want to stop the FREE ADVERTISING which in fact DOES remind me of one song after another I had forgotten about, but used to love, so I go and buy the original??!!?

On my eBay account, when I have more titles I want to buy than I have money for that month, I add them to my Watch list, and wait 'til the next month. But I do buy them. It's just bad, bad business for any record company or organization to go so very, very overboard and kill their own business. They blame those who do the covers, but in fact, that free advertising just HELPS the labels to sell more originals to people like me. Can't they figure that out???

I live in SF and I remember that bar that had the trouble. Just dumb, and creates a ton of ill-will from the music afficionados toward the heavy-handed record companies' tactics. If they don't want us to enjoy their music, then I guess we end up writing our own, and boycotting their stuff? Is that what they want to try to force everyone to do? Really, this upsets me to hear of this kind of dumb-ass, illogical, bad-PR, tactic, going way too far.

I don't rip the record companies off by enjoying hearing someone do a cover of something. I go out and buy the actual, original cover, and the record label profits thereby.

Some eager-for-promotion hotshots at those places must be really kissing up, trying to impress with their ill-thought-out ideas, but I hope their older bosses are wise enough to realize that these tactics will backfire, just alienate their customer base, and make us want to just find independent performers selling their own titles to support instead.

Do any record label people read this and do you hear any of what I'm saying?

Really, if someone does a cover, what you should be doing is paying THEM for advertising and promoting your stuff. You oughta work out some kind of deal where they do the song, and you have a little internet-connected jukebox which instantly can look up the song and the people who heard the cover can instantly do an impulse buy of the song. Make it instantly burn it onto a CD for those of us older folks who still use CDs. Make it proper and legal and easy for people to get from you, easy to do the right thing.

And thank the bands for doing the covers. Acknowledge that they are part of the team, the community of music lovers, just as I *hope* you are. In fact, those bands now doing covers may in time be featured on your labels with their own stuff. So, don't treat 'em like poo-poo, but value how they help sell your music.

I mean, with some intelligence, you can realize how to use the people doing covers to actually PROMOTE your sales, instead of just dumping on them, harassing them, blaming them for your own lack of good marketing, own lack of good customer relations, own lack of creative selling methods.

Please listen and learn something from a frequent buyer of your music. I am angry at your heavy-handed tactics. I still do buy close to 12 dozen CDs each year, and additional many LPs. I spend a lot of money buying your original titles. And I *LOVE* hearing anyone doing a cover, and don't at all think of it as a rip-off of you, but as a reminder of one more CD I need to buy. I have tons of notes to myself of this and that title I don't yet have, and I walk into record stores and go onto eBay and Amazon with those lists to myself.

How do I get those lists? By hearing people playing or singing the stuff. And, believe me, they are not all the original artists playing or singing it. And I really don't care, am just inspired to go out and buy the original because I heard someone -- *anyone* -- do the tune. I'm grateful to them for having the good taste and reminding me of a cool song to get.

You guys had better learn that people doing covers FOR you are your ASSETS, and the HELP YOUR SALES. What part of that is so complicated that you can't get it? And on the flip side of it, when you harass these people, it creates real, real bad vibes amongst frequent buyers like me.

I remember that incident in the news about that local bar 2-3 years ago, and I'm still p.o.'d about that Neanderthal way of doing business.

Get creative, get more human, get more sales, by working WITH your cover-playing bands and bars who HELP you much more than they could ever hurt you. Loosen up your understanding of things.

It's like the people who love music once may have run the distribution, but now, it seems like, when you do stuff like that, it seems like you HATE the music and want to see it die... or at least see your sales die by angering formerly loyal repeat customers.

Listen up, listen up, listen up. I'm speaking from my heart.

I intend to keep buying your originals, in spite of, and BECAUSE of, the people who do their own renditions of your covers. Don't mistakenly trash your own best assets who help promote your stuff. That's just dumb.

Whoever in your corporate tree pushes you to do that kind of thing should be fired, and get someone in there who knows how to work with the loyal music-loving fans. Get the music-haters OUT of your corporate distribution.

You'll sell more music to people like me, if you get back to treating the music, and those who cover it, like something you love, like the assets they are.

If you can't "get" such a simple concept, if you continue to have it all backwards, then you deserve to fail in business for just not getting how to go about it.

I hope someone influential in the industry hears and gets this, and makes some changes. The anger around the world about hearing of such tactics is just NOT worth it, just not to your advantage in any way at all. Cut it out. Let covers be played, let the music thrive, and thus, let your industry thrive.

Many of us buy lots of music after hearing it, even if it's someone just humming a song. Don't penalize those people who help make sales for you.

Fire the dumb-ass hotshots in your companies who say it makes sense to harass the ones who increase sales. They are the ones wrecking your business, NOT the bands who promote your covers for FREE for you.

Duh, and duh, and I repeat, duh. Think about this.

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a 73-year-old bar manager might be taking The Long and Winding Road to the hole over allegedly illegally covering Beatles tunes in a Tokyo bar. Hey Jude, er I mean the RIAA, Don’t Let Me Down, Don’t be The Fool... Read More