• Kyodo

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In a rare move, the Fair Trade Commission has retracted a 2009 order to the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers to end a “monopolistic” fee collection practice, because it couldn’t find evidence the copyright body is breaking the Antimonopoly Law.

JASRAC, the nation’s largest music copyright protection group, manages the copyrights of more than 7 million tunes. It has nearly full control of the music licensing market for broadcasters in Japan.

The antimonopoly watchdog, which decided on the unusual retraction Thursday, issued the order in February 2009, saying JASRAC’s practice of collecting a fixed percentage of TV and radio broadcaster revenues as royalties — regardless of specific music use — through the use of blanket licensing contracts was hindering the entry of new competitors.

The FTC alleged that music licensing firm e License Inc. was given the cold shoulder by broadcasters that refrained from playing the tunes it managed to avoid paying extra fees. The FTC urged JASRAC to change its charging system by linking the fees it collects to the frequency with which the group’s tunes are actually broadcast.

In April 2009, JASRAC filed a complaint with the FTC about the order, prompting it to reopen the case. JASRAC then submitted data to the FTC showing that broadcasters were actually using tunes controlled by e License.

A representative from one broadcaster testified that the FTC “did not incorporate my testimony that did not fit the story made by the FTC” in issuing the order. Based on the data and the testimony, the FTC concluded that JASRAC’s practice was not hindering the business of its rival.

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