Japanese Collection Society Wants To Charge You For Tweeting Lyrics

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

One of the earlier fun things on Twitter was the lyric of the day bot @lotd. Basically, if you sent a Twitter message to lotd, it would automatically repost the lyric for other lotd fans to read. Neat! But is it copyright infringement? Well… we’ve seen claims that lyrics online need to be licensed, and there have been a few discussions around whether or not you can copyright a tweet, but would anyone seriously try to collect royalties on Twittered lyrics?

Apparently the answer may be yes. Reader Anshar points us to a story claiming that Japan’s collection society JASRAC is putting together plans to collect royalties on Twittered lyrics. Honestly, the whole thing sounds so ridiculous that I’m hoping the original report is coming from the Japanese version of The Onion (please, someone tell me that’s the case). But this is JASRAC we’re talking about — which attacked YouTube quite early on for not stopping all copyrighted songs from appearing on the site.

According to the report, JASRAC said: “We want everyone to recognize that Internet is not your private place,” in defending the plan to charge royalties for such lyrical tweets. No, it’s not your private place, but that also means it’s not the industry’s private place to automatically demand the right to collect money any time anyone utters a snippet of a lyric. Japan’s copyright law is a lot less well developed than the US, and it doesn’t really have fair use within the law (notably, Japan has been a big supporter of ACTA).

Either way, if this story is true and not just some joke (please, please, tell me it’s a joke), it’s really quite ridiculous. People tweeting lyrics are not harming anyone by any stretch of the imagination. They’re fans. They’re encouraging more people to find out about a song or to remember an old song. They’re not taking away licensing rights or revenue or anything. They’re sharing lyrics, which is something JASRAC should be encouraging.

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Companies: jasrac, twitter

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Comments on “Japanese Collection Society Wants To Charge You For Tweeting Lyrics”

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: i have a finger up guess which

Isn’t that what they want?

You go into the record shop (hehe) and see a bunch of albums from groups you’ve never heard (of) before… you lay out $25 on one of these albums–which turns out to be complete garbage. A waste of money.

However, they’ve got your money and that’s about as far as they care to take the whole ‘quality’ angle.

ant anti mike says:


no instead what happens is they just keep what they have and like and if they know a musical guy that gives it away free they get from him.

otherwise im not nor is anyone i know gonna shell out 25$ for music HA right. NICE try ain’t also gonna happen what it will do is hasten the demise of labels which im all for and in fact im gonna go out on a limb and predict that after ACTA the labels will have at most 10 – 12 more years before they are totally GONE

william (profile) says:

Mike, I can tell you this is not a joke.

Being very familiar with Japanese manga, I can tell you that JASRAC has really really tight control over song lyrics in Japan. All the manga I have ever read that has lyrics in the story will have “authorized by JASRAC #000000” on the same page as a foot note.

This is also the reason that no Japanese song lyric site exists (in Japanese). I have been trying to find a good comprehensive online database of lyrics for Japanese pop songs and I can tell you that I haven’t found any in the last 10 years. For English pop songs here google will usually turn up something, but that doesn’t happen for Japanese lyrics. If there are results, they are usually English fan sites that has some Japanese lyrics for certain artists.

Seeing how this has been happening historically, I can see no reason why JASRAC is not planning to charge people for tweeting lyrics. And trust me, from their track record, they’ll probably succeed, thus killing tweeting Japanese lyrics.

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