• Kyodo

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Seven ballroom dance schools in Aichi Prefecture were given a court order Friday to pay some 17.5 million yen in damages for using copyrighted music without authorization.

Upholding almost all of the claims by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, presiding Judge Yukio Kato of the Nagoya District Court also ordered the schools to stop using the music in dance classes without JASRAC approval.

JASRAC, which had been seeking 50 million yen in compensation, said the ruling is the first that involves the use of music for ballroom dance classes.

According to the judgment, the seven schools held dance lessons for profit using music under the jurisdiction of JASRAC, without the society’s approval, from June 1999 to last November.

Six of the schools are located in Nagoya and one is in the town of Fuso.

The Copyright Law stipulates that dance schools must pay at least 3,000 yen per month to use a musical piece. The fee differs depending on the school’s size.

According to JASRAC officials, there are about 2,500 dance schools nationwide, but only 57 percent have received approval to use copyrighted music under its jurisdiction.

JASRAC said it hopes the ruling will serve as a warning to other schools not to use such music without gaining permission.

Kato said the use of music is necessary to hold dance classes, which students are required to pay for, thereby making the music a profit-making instrument. He added that charges for the use of music are included in enrollment and lesson fees.

The schools said they teach dance not for commercial purposes but to promote the arts, adding that such fees constitute an abuse of rights.

The schools’ operators said they will consult with their lawyers on whether to file an appeal.

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