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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

News from NET and COM '99

  • Artists Set Up Digital Media Copyright Protection Group
  • February 8, 1999 (TOKYO) — Ryuichi Sakamoto, an Academy Award-winning singer/songwriter, and other artists established the Media Artists Association (MAA), a copyright protection group focusing on content distribution on the Internet.
    The MAA, which was set up on Feb. 2, aims at “protecting artists’ capacity to earn a living,” Sakamoto said.

    Sakamoto is best known for composing the music for the film The Last Emperor. He performs live concerts via the Internet, and is an active participant in discussions on digital media copyright protection.

    Through the MAA, the artists will acquire technologies needed for copyright protection to present and offer their digital content on the Internet. Also, the artists seek to give their opinions to device manufacturers and copyright management agencies.

    “We welcome new technologies but with many of those technologies the original content of artists can be used illegally, and this is a cause of worry,” Sakamoto said.

    A shared sense of crisis among artists is the driving force for establishing the MAA group.

    Online distribution of digital content, including music, has become popular. Although artists are willing to explore new channels for distribution for their music, they still want to get paid.

    Extensive concerns remain over copyright protection and management. The MAA’s objective is to give artists more knowledge on this issue and to convey their opinions to device manufacturers and copyright management bodies.

    Initially, the MAA took up a copyright protection issue. In its first regular meeting on Feb. 1, it studied the MP3 format and examined how widely that format is used in music content distribution.

    “As an artist, I’m satisfied with the sound quality of the MP3 format, but the real problem is piracy,” said musician Motoharu Sano, one of the MAA’s founders.

    Also, artists are concerned about the way that copyrights are managed by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (JASRAC), Japan’s exclusive copyright group for music.

    JASRAC’s monopoly management structure for copyrights of works of music may be an obstacle to the spread of new distribution channels.

    The MAA will hold regular study meetings and publish a paper later in 1999. The meeting participants comprise artists and associate members from the concerned industries.

    The founders are Sakamoto and other five artists, including video game storyteller Kenji Iino and computer graphics artist Yoichirou Kawaguchi.

    (Nikkei Electronics)

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