The obscene excesses of JASRAC

“We want to give lessons without worrying about royalties”
Self-made dance music CDs grow in popularity

According to the royalty guidelines of the Japan Association of Recording Artists’ Copyrights (JASRAC) , royalties for music used in a social dance classroom vary based on the number of teachers and the lesson fee, but they can be assumed to reach the amount of 3,000-20,000 yen per month. However, many people have expressed dissatisfaction, wondering “Is it really necessary to collect fees even for music used to practice dancing?” According to JASRAC, of the 2500 classrooms nationwide about 40% are not paying.

In response to this non-payment, JASRAC sued 7 dance studios in Nagoya demanding royalties for the past 10 years in Nagoya Regional Court. Last September, the Supreme Court rejected the classrooms’ appeal and commanded them to pay the 46,360,000 yen that the Regional Court awarded JASRAC.

This is the story behing the self-made CD movement.

Takaoka Hiroshi (77), president of the All-Japan Dance Studio Confederation and owner of several dance studios in Tokyo and Shinbashi, has been producing self-made music since the year before last. The recorded songs are largely taken from famous works of artists who have been dead more than 50 years, when there are no more royalties taken by the estate.

The arranger does not make an agreement with JASRAC and requests cooperation from people who will not seek royalties.

The Japan League of Ballroom Dance has self-made 3 such CDs up to now. Takayama Teruyuki (56), owner of a Sagamihara, Kanagawa, dance school who uses the CDs, says, “The most important thing is for the music’s rhythm to be easy to pick up and for the timing to be clear. These CDs are pretty good in that respect.”

Meanwhile, there are also companies producing original dance music, such as Nerima, Tokyo’s “Mai Members.” They have made 27 CDs up to now. Producer Ishiba Junji (57) explains, “We’re not making a profit. However, we escape copyright trouble and feel that people should have a close relationship with dance.”

JASRAC is of the position that, “They cannot fulfill the customers’ needs with music not protected by JASRAC, and it hasn’t been proven that the dance school business will sustain without it. In the case that they want to use JASRAC-protected music, we’d like them to follow the proper procedures.” (Yasuda Yukihiro)

My Comment: I’m not sure how I feel about this. I figure that this can only hurt the small dance studios who can’t afford the royalties but might lose customers if they play stupid MUZAK during their lessons. It’s the efforts of the recording industry that force us to suffer through awful music in the supermarket, so is squeezing the dance studios as well really to the public’s benefit? I understand the need of musicians to get paid, but the Supreme Court’s blind support of business interests needs to be called into question.