MMW-107 -- Japanese Music File Sharing: a 2007 Update

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
M U S I C M E D I A W A T C H
Commentary on Japan's music technology news
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Issue No. 107
Wednesday January 10, 2007
Tokyo

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CONTENTS

++ FEATURE: Japanese Music File Sharing: a 2007 Update

++ EVENT: MidemNet Forum - The World's Forum For Digital Music
(Cannes, France, January 21-25 2007)

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS:
** Listen Japan partners with lyric search service
** Mora teams with Mixi for music distribution
** RWC to sell tube amp and speaker set for iPod
** Dwango offers two new 'mega-iAppli' games
** Hitachi set to release W43HII handset

++ FEATURE: Japanese Music File Sharing: a 2007 Update

Over the past few years, I've often been asked if file sharing
- especially music file sharing - is as widespread in Japan
as in the US and Europe. My answer has generally been something
along the lines of 'it certainly exists here, but the number
of people doing it is pretty small compared to most other
countries.' In just the past year, though, we've seen a sharp
increase in action taken by Japanese record industry and
copyright organizations to step up efforts against file
sharing.

Here is a timetable of the most important developments from
last year:

** Jul. 25: RIAJ releases the results of a July survey
showing that 3.5% of Internet users in Japan (1.76 million
people) had used file-sharing software in the past year.

** Sep. 25: Responding to a motion filed by RIAJ members
and affiliates, the Tokyo District Court orders 3 major
Internet service providers to disclose the names and
addresses of 19 individuals believed to have uploaded
music files using file sharing software.

** Oct. 20: JASRAC sends a formal complaint to YouTube,
requesting the company to remove copyrighted content.
YouTube responds by immediately deleting 30,000 Japanese
video files.

** Nov. 26: A group of Japanese rights organizations, led
by JASRAC and RIAJ, start the 'Ongaku Ihan' campaign.
Running through Jan. 31, the campaign is directed largely
at mobile phone users, describing the legal and security
issues surrounding file sharing.

** Nov. 27: A 45 year-old Nagasaki man is arrested for
offering free copyrighted ringtones on his own mobile site
without permission.

** Dec. 5: JASRAC formally contacts YouTube, requesting
preventative measures against the upload of copyrighted
videos.

** Dec. 13: Isamu Kaneko (the developer of Winny, Japan's
most popular file-sharing application) is found guilty of
assisting copyright violations and sentenced to pay a fine
of JPY1.5 million (US$12,500). Kaneko's trial had lasted over
two years, and he is expected to appeal the ruling.

** Dec. 19: YouTube responds that it would like to send some
of its senior staff for a meeting with JASRAC

** Dec. 21: A group of Japanese rights organizations, led by
JASRAC and RIAJ, announce that the three major wireless
carriers - NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank - have agreed
to take measures to prevent sharing of digital music files
for mobile phones.

I found the last announcement about mobile file sharing
particularly interesting, as well as the Nagasaki arrest
for ringtone uploading, which I believe is the first of its
kind in the world.

I suppose it's not so surprising that mobile file sharing
has become a major concern here - after all, 90% of digital
music downloads in Japan are to a mobile phone. Researching
further, though, I was a bit taken aback at just how prevalent
these free mobile sites are, especially compared to just one
year ago, which was the last time I had looked into the issue.

At that time, there were just a handful of sites with very
rough instructions for making your own chaku-uta (mastertones).
This time, though, I was quickly able to find several
'underground' sites offering free mastertones and full-song
downloads, and also encouraging other users to create and
upload their own files. Sites such as 'Muryou Shugi'
(which translates roughly to something like 'Free-ism')
provide very detailed information now on how to convert
tracks from a CD to the various formats, and anonymous
bulletin board sites such as 2-channel offer tools for
making the handset-specific adjustments needed to obtain
the best sound quality.

Although it does take a little effort to make your own
mastertone and full-song tracks for mobile phones, the tools
are for the most part readily available. Each carrier also
issues its own tools to each 'official' content provider for
enabling the finished file to be set as a ringtone on the
phone. Just looking at some of the posts on 2-channel,
however, it appears that 'unofficial' tools which do the
same thing are also available to anyone for free download.

It remains to be seen what specific measures will be taken
by the wireless carriers to prevent file sharing and illegal
distribution to mobile phones, but this will no doubt be an
issue to watch in the coming year.

++ EVENT: MidemNet Forum - The World's Forum For Digital Music

January 20-21 2007 - Cannes - France - at MIDEM, the world's
music market. Join over 1,200 international business leaders
to network and exchange digital music knowledge including:
Chris Anderson (Wired), Mitch Bainwol (RIAA), Martin Bandier
(EMI Publishing), Miles Flint (Sony Ericsson), Rob Glaser
(RealNetworks), Mika Salmi (MTV Networks), Gary Shapiro
(Consumer Electronics Association), Chris Stephenson
(Microsoft) and Will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas).
Last chance to register: Hurry, the event was sold out in 2006!
www.midem.com | midem usa@reedmidem.com
| tel. : 1 (0)212 284 5130

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS

** Listen Japan partners with lyric search service
In brief: Listen Japan, an online music store, announced
last week it had started a cross-promotion partnership
with Second Vision, a Hiroshima-based company which runs
a lyric search service called 'Kashi Get'. Users who view
lyrics on 'Kashi Get' can press a button to hear a sample
of the song on Listen Japan, while Listen Japan users can
likewise view the lyrics for songs on the online music store.

Source: Nikkei Sangyou Shimbun (Jan 4).

** Mora teams with Mixi for music distribution
Label Gate, a joint venture of Japanese record companies
which runs the Mora online music download service, announced
last month that it will partner with popular SNS service Mixi
to offer music through the 'Mixi Music' corner of the site.
Mixi music features ranking lists of songs by genre. Some of
the song titles will contain a Mora icon that starts up
Windows Media Player and allows users to hear a sample or
purchase the song for download.
Source:
http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/lifestyle/articles/0612/07/news113.html

** RWC to sell tube amp and speaker set for iPod
In brief: On January 25, RWC will begin selling the
RM-VA1S audio system for iPods in Japan. The new system is
a tube amplifier and speaker set with a docking port for
all iPod models that is aimed at fans of high-quality 'classic'
audio equipment. The RMVA1S will have an open price, but is
expected to sell at around JPY69,800 (US$580)
Source:
http://www.rwc.co.jp/release/va1.html

** Dwango offers two new 'mega-iAppli' games
In brief: Ringtone and mastertone content provider Dwango
released two new mobile game offerings last month for their
services on NTT DoCoMo's i-mode portal. The first is a
Japanese geography and history quiz game called
'Go Tochi Kentei', while the second is a role-playing
adventure game called 'Fuurai no Shiren MEGA'. The games
are both implemented as 'mega-iApplis', meaning they use
the latest incarnation of NTT DoCoMo's DoJa platform for
mobile Java applications and have a greater size capacity
than previous i-applis. The two new games can only be
downloaded to 903i phones, the most recent series of
i-mode handsets.
Sources:
Go Tochi Kentei: http://info.dwango.co.jp/pdf/press/2006/061218.pdf
Fuurai no Shiren MEGA: http://info.dwango.co.jp/pdf/press/2006/061207.pdf

** Hitachi set to release W43HII handset
In brief: Hitachi announced that it will begin selling its
new W43HII handset for KDDI in mid-January. The new model
features improved video quality for viewing 'one-seg' programs,
and Hitachi says that the handset allows for up to 4 hours
and 15 minutes of continuous viewing.
Source:
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20061220-00000003-bcn-sci

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STAFF
Written by: Steve Myers (steve@thetamusic.com)
Steve Myers is president and chief enthusiast of Theta Music
Technologies, which specializes in the development of
music-related software applications.
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