July 13, 2017
Japanese Society for Rights of Authors,
Composers and Publishers
Judgement of the Lawsuit Finalized Against Owners of a Live Music Venue
On July 11, the third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court (with Judge Kiyoko Okabe) passed judgement, on a final appeal and a petition for the acceptance of the final appeal filed by two owners of the live music venue “Live Bar X. Y. Z.→A” (Hachioji, Tokyo) against the judgement of the Intellectual Property High Court, which was passed on October 19, 2016 and had basically accepted JASRAC’s claim (see October 20, 2016 news release for further details). This case was regarding a law suit against these owners, demanding an injunction for continued copyright infringement during live music performances. The Supreme Court dismissed the final appeal and refused the acceptance of the final appeal. As a result, the above judgement of the Intellectual Property High Court has finalized.
The most important point of contention in this case was determining who was mainly responsible for the musical performance in the live music venue. The Intellectual Property High Court judged that the owners are mainly responsible for the performance of works at the venue by deciding, “Both first trial defendants managed and controlled the performance of works administered by the lower court case plaintiff at the venue, and carried out essential tasks in the realization of such performances. As it is acknowledged that the defendants had been making a profit by the said act, it is deemed that they are mainly responsible for the performances of works administered by the lower court case plaintiff (mainly responsible for the copyright infringement)”. As a result of the final decision of the Supreme Court, it has reaffirmed the idea that not only the physical and natural perspective but also the normative perspective should be considered comprehensively in regards to judging who is mainly responsible for the works (mainly responsible for the copyright infringement).
Additionally, another important point of contention in this case was determining the amount of damages arising from the infringement. As damages and unjust enrichment equivalent to copyright usage fees which the defendants should pay, the Intellectual Property High Court has upheld JASRAC’s claims for rational damage sums, which reflects the results of the investigation conducted by JASRAC. As a result of this judgement has finalized due to the decision of the Supreme Court, the validity of verified damages based on JASRAC’s investigation was also confirmed.
Given the fact that most operators of venues that provide live music performances have concluded license agreements with JASRAC to use music legally, for the sake of fairness as well, JASRAC will take measures similar to those in the above case against unlicensed venues.
JASRAC-International Relations Department: