Tokyo District Court orders a suspension of service and awards damages in leading Japanese case on file swapping on the Internet

February 2005

Internet, Record Labels

The Tokyo District Court has handed down its judgment against MMO Japan Ltd ordering the company to suspend transmission of digital music files. MMO administer a file exchange service called File Rogue which allows exchange of music files free of charge on the Internet. In addition, the court ordered that MMO Japan Ltd and its representative (and co-defendant) Michihito Matsuda pay compensation by way of damages for losses resulting from the copyright infringements. JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) had filed a suit in February 2002 demanding suspension of music file transmission and compensation by way of damages. The Tokyo District Court made an interim ruling on 29 January 2003 acknowledging copyright infringement by the two defendants and also their joint responsibility. Today’s ruling, together with the interim ruling, sets the boundaries for proper usage of copyrighted works in Japan as it clearly affirms copyright infringement resulting from use of File Rogue and as it also acknowledges both an order of suspension of service and compensation for damages as appropriate remedies in a situation where distribution of copyrighted works uses the Internet. The damages were based on the “Tariffs for Use of Musical Works” submitted by JASRAC to the Commissioner of the Agency of Cultural Affairs: taking into consideration the number of music files which could have actually been downloaded the amount of damages equivalent to royalties was set at 30 million yen (,000). This amount is about 1/10th of the amount which would have applied if calculated formally by applying the “Tariffs for Use of Musical Works”. JASRAC added that they will continue to be vigilant regarding the illegal use of copyrighted works on the Internet and will have “strict attitude from the legal perspective”. The Society will be using its own surveillance system to stamp out illegal activities and protect copyright. JASRAC will also promote various technical measures such as digital watermark technology and the development of the easy to use digital rights licensing system JASRAC Networchestra system.


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