Not Your Private Place

The Japanese Society for the Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) is at it again.

The copyright watchdog announced it will start policing Twitter accounts and charging micro-bloggers for posting song lyrics, J-cast News reported.

“We want everyone to recognize that the Internet is not your private place,” JASRAC said.

The organization is famous for sending cease and desist orders to anyone who posts even a snippet of a protected song on their blog or Web site. Apparently it has sent several such notices to people who translate lyrics for fans of Japanese music who don’t understand the Japanese language.

Though lyrics quoted in the context of research or criticism are exempt, neither of these contexts usually apply to Twitter posts.

Some Japanese artists have complained that JASRAC’s policies effectively counteract the PR potential of the Web. As of now, JASRAC has not decided exactly how much they will charge people who tweet lyrics.

JASRAC has been successful in keeping suspect videos off of YouTube and it once even had a restaurant owner arrested for singing Beatles songs during operating hours.

In general, the Japanese music industry is notoriously close-minded about using the Internet – even for its own advantage – thanks to squeamishness about copyright issues.

Some record companies, including Sony Music, still won’t allow their artists to be sold on iTunes Japan. Napster Japan, a joint venture between the US music subscription company and Tower Records Japan, has announced it will close at the end of May owing to the fact that Napster’s decision to provide DRM-free downloads cannot be implemented in Japan.

Japanese labels won’t sell digital music without DRM protection. Also, Japanese labels don’t like the subscription method of digital music sales because it is difficult to figure out how much to charge per song.