National / Crime & Legal

JASRAC pressures 212 businesses for playing background music without paying copyright fee

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Japan’s largest copyright collection group is seeking arbitration in summary courts nationwide against 212 hair salons, restaurants and apparel stores that allegedly failed to pay fees on background music, its spokesman said Friday.

The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), filed the petition Tuesday. About 70 percent of the entities targeted are hair salons, it said.

The move shocked many who were unaware they need to pay JASRAC a copyright fee simply for playing CDs or music from iPods or smartphones. It filed a similar petition last year.

“Large-scale businesses tend to comply. But smaller businesses operated by a young owner tend to hesitate” in signing copyright contracts, said JASRAC spokesman Hisashi Ono.

If a business plays music provided by a cable company or over the radio, there is no need to pay the fee.

Established in 1939, JASRAC is the nation’s largest music copyright management organization. It is often criticized for its overbearing approach to collecting copyright fees.

In 2002, JASRAC began managing the copyright fees for businesses that play background music. Back then, many businesses used cable music. Many have since switched to other means without knowing they still must pay JASRAC for playing music under its management.

JASRAC conducts a nationwide campaign to crack down on copyright infringement every year in June and July.