free web tracker soliloquies: 04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004


so・lil・o・quy/- n. [C,U] a speech in a play in which a character talks to himself or herself, so that the audience know the character's thoughts.

Friday, April 30, 2004

column : amending copyright law

I'm glad that all the mess with the "plantar fasciitis" is gone, thank God. I was hoping that something I can use for this blog will happen this week, but since nothing interesting enough happened, I guess I'm just going to write a column this week.

I love music. I especially love the ones which are so called "western music" here in Japan, which are mostly songs made in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Under the current system, we are given the rights to access all different kinds of CDs, both foreign and Japanese here in Japan. If you look around major CD retailing stores, such as Tower Records, HMV and online, people will be able to see multiple versions of the same CD available.

I will limit my column to foreign CDs since my interest is only on foreign music, but if you take foreign musicians' CDs for example, you will definiately be able to find two versions; IMPORT and DOMESTIC. Import versions, as the word explains are the CDs imported directly from the States, Canada, E.U. and etc.. Domestic versions are the ones which are reselled by Japanese distributors with the translated lyrics booklet and also sometimes, bonus track(s) added on. Let's compare the differences between these two versions.
First, the content. The actual musical contents of the CDs are EXACTLY the same, with the expection of the bonus tracks. There is the original English "booklet" inside the CD case in both of these versions. So from this, we can conclude that there is no difference in the contents between these two versions.

Second, the price. CD prices in the States is around $9.99 - $14.99. Therefore, even with the fees necessary for the import added on, the average price of these import CDs are about 1800 - 2000 yen. Domestic versions on the other hand, costs about 2500 yen on the average, since the Japanese distribution companies adds on their profits to the original price.

I believe most of the readers will be satisfied with the facts I've written so far, because there actually are added values in the domestic version. But here comes the main point of the today's column. The Agency for Cultural Affairs, a branch of the Ministy of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology started making drafts of revised Copyright Law this year. This new amended copylight law was put into consideration to block the import of Japanese CDs made with licenses in Asian countries, which are being "re-imported" back into Japan and sold for cheaper prices compared to the normal Japanese versions. But without us citizens knowing, they are making the drafts which could be interpreted so that the import versions of the foreign CDs can be blocked also when they think it is necessary to do so. They are supposed to make laws to protect the domestic industry, while promoting competition simultaneously.

The record industry is one of the most protected industry here in Japan. Do you know why the prices of CD never drops below 1260 yen for the singles and 3059 yen for the albums respectively? It is because the resale price is maintained by the laws, prohibiting discounted selling of the CDs. With all these procedures put into effect, why are the major record companies such as Avex, SME and Toshiba-EMI have such low profit rates? They blame the P2P softwares represented by WinMX as the source of their loss. But I believe that they are not creating music well enough to be accepted and purchased by the consumers.

Now, they are trying to control the industry by

1. Shutting out the import of the CDs made in foreign countries.
2. Obtaining the rights to sell foreign musics from the shut out.
3. Making all the CDs copy-protected.

The record industry is using the law, instead of their self-improvent to add on even more protection than what they already have now. This is a total non-sense in a capitalism nation. This will not only delete the possiblity of declining CD prices, but it will also suffer the consumers by restricting the use of the products they used their money to buy! Why can't we do whatever we want with the thing you own? Why can't we have the right to choose? Sadly, all this fact has not been reported on mass-media and many people do not even know about it. I am hoping that the industry officials will think more about the consumers and improve the cooporate predisposition by the rules of capitalism.

Next week is "Golden Week". On my schedule, I have a plan to visit Roppongi Hills with my family, so I am hoping I will be able to write about my "mini-trip" to Tokyo on my next blog. Until then, see ya!