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How music copyrights are managed around the world

Under the global conventions on copyright, such as the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of which countries across the world are signatories, there is a framework between countries to protect each other’s copyright works, including music, novels, paintings, films, computer programs and others. As a signatory to these conventions, Japan protects copyrights bilaterally with almost every country on the planet. This means that the copyrights of works created by lyricists and composers of other signatory countries are protected in Japan under the Copyright Law to the same extent as the copyrights of works made by lyricists and composers of Japan, and vice versa.

However, even if copyrights are mutually protected by signatories to such conventions, it is difficult for users of copyright works in Japan to individually obtain permission to use works from copyright holders in other countries. Copyright management organizations (CMOs) around the world, which have been mandated to administer copyrights by a vast majority of domestic copyright owners, conclude representation agreements with CMOs overseas to administer each other’s musical works.

The resulting international network of CMOs allow music users in Japan to obtain copyright clearance for foreign repertoire as well as domestic repertoire from JASRAC.

In the same way, music users in foreign countries can obtain copyright clearance for JASRAC repertoire from local CMOs which have concluded representation agreements with JASRAC.

JASRAC administers both performing rights (e.g. concerts, broadcasts) and mechanical rights (e.g. producing CDs and other sound recordings). In other countries, a CMO may only administer one or the other.