U.S. Charges Japan with Music Piracy
Woellert, Lorraine, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
After a year of fruitless talks, American hopes for a deal with Japan on pirated music recordings are still blowing in the wind, and the British aren't getting any satisfaction, either.
So yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization, saying Japan's failure to comply with an international pact to protect foreign music copyrights is costing American producers and musicians $500 million a year.
The U.S. complaint, the first ever filed under an intellectual property rights protection law that went into effect Jan. 1, was joined immediately by one from the European Union, which wants to protect recordings by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other British artists.
The complaints start a process that could lead to trade sanctions against Japanese exports in the United States and Europe. The dispute follows on the heels of heated negotiations last year over U.S. car exports to Japan.
"What is affected here is one of the most vibrant and popular periods in the history of American music," Mr. Kantor said at a news conference. "The remarkable range and stature of the music produced in that quarter century makes it an important part of our heritage."
Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys are among the artists whose popular works are being illegally copied and sold throughout Japan.
This latest dispute stems from a disagreement between Japan and the United States over copyright law. Japanese law grants protection to foreign sound recordings produced only after 1971.
But the intellectual property rights agreement negotiated under the World Trade Organization requires member nations like Japan to recognize sound recordings made in another member country, such as the United States, for at least 50 years.
That article would protect U.S. recordings dating back to at least 1946.
Rock star Ray Manzarek, a keyboard player for the 1960s American group the Doors, said yesterday his work is routinely distributed throughout Japan without his permission.
Holding a bootleg CD that included 72 songs from the Doors, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Mr. Manzarek said he received no royalties from the pirated songs sold in Japan.
"Why shouldn't I receive some of the fruits of my earlier labors?" Mr. …