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Kyoto University gets billed for using Bob Dylan lyrics in speech

By SoraNews24

During a commencement ceremony for students of Kyoto University, president Juichi Yamagiwa delivered a speech that dealt with the song “Blown’ in the Wind” by folk artist and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan.

The speech was an astute interpretation of the song which he used to inspire the new students to not look for solutions in what is told to them but to free their minds and find that the, um… solution is… er, floating among differences in atmospheric pressure.

Sorry, we have to watch our words, because shortly after the speech, a notice was published by the Japanese Society of Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) who oversee the rights to Dylan’s catalog in Japan, requesting money because of Yamagiwa’s use of Dylan’s words in his speech.

It wasn’t the speech itself, but the act of Kyoto University posting it on their website that caught the eye of someone at JASRAC. No specific figure was disclosed, but reports say it could amount to tens of yen per page view.

However, the question remains whether Kyoto University is liable for posting them online. Kyoto Shimbun contacted the Agency for Cultural Affairs who said that if the use of lyrics can be seen as a quotation used in a context then it would not have to pay.

Of course the line between quoting and copying can be blurry, so Kyoto Shimbun also consulted a lawyer who believed that the speech falls under the classification of a quote since the words were isolated from the speech to distinguish them from Yamagiwa’s own words and the song is also cited at the end.

Neither Kyoto University nor JASRAC have made any specific comments regarding the case as of this writing, but it doesn’t look like the copyright organization has much of a leg to stand on.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder what Bob Dylan himself would think of this. As a leading figure of the counterculture of the '60s, would he give his blessing to educational institutions getting threatened to pay money to industry groups in his name?

Kind of makes you think doesn’t it? And if the JASRAC isn’t careful, the same thing might happen to them. Do they really want to be like the people shutting down kids’ copyright-infringing Pokemon parties?

Sources: Kyoto University, Kyoto Shimbun, Itai News

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© SoraNews24

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Greed conquers all.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The world's worst philistines are the Japanese Society of Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, I'm getting tired of reading about how they target people, like music students, in a bid to squeeze money out of them for having the audacity to engage in the arts.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Colleges are like old-age homes, except for the fact that more people die in colleges.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"not look for solutions in what is told to them but to free their minds " Then why in the world spend 21 or 22 years drilling into them the exact opposite. You can't gift them little jewel of wisdom until they graduate college?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What about the Japanese rock band B'z? Their song "Blowin" has these lyrics:


Who pays who?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Dan, be careful, you need to use quotation marks there!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if they can make this stick. I think when Dylan received the Nobel prize, a lot of his work might legitimately have come under fair use / public domain / public figure status. You know if Dylan wants a little money, ok, fine, but if they are asking for all kinds of egregious punitive damages, Kyoto U ought to fight it.

In fact, Kyoto U might cite the Nobel announcement and ceremony as precedent for use of Dylan properties without compensation at an academic event. I think Dylan performed his work there, and some lyrics might have been included in news accounts. Nobody paid for those, right?

Don't think artists should be ripped off, but I don't think Kyoto U is making money off of this use, either. And I would bet that they are representing him as an academic prize winner, not a rock star.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

don't know about you, but i am getting sick of all the radio stations playing copyright-expired songs and bad cover versions. Just to avoid paying. If i wanted to continually listen to 50-60s music i would invent a time machine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, the music that makes it onto corporate radio is largely the result of music industry positioning. Public radio and college radio are better for less industry hyped music. And now listeners can stream any kind of music imaginable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Winning a prize does NOT make your work public domain. Only 70 years after your death does it become public domain. (Mein Kampf is 71 this year; it's public domain now.) Also, did the Nobel committee post his lyrics online, as Kyoto University is being accused of? And Dylan didn't even show up for the award ceremony so, no, he didn't sing his songs there (Patti Smith did, Blowin' in the Wind, as it turns out.).

I'm surprised JASRAC doesn't allow use of lyrics in a non-performance situation such as a speech, news report, or paper. Everyone will be in trouble if JASRAC starts reading the newspapers and finding such gems as "Baby, baby, baby" in a diaper ad or commercial. What's his name Beiber wrote an entire song with those lyrics. And just those lyrics.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Patti Smith sang "A hard rain's gonna fall" at the ceremony.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

but i am getting sick of all the radio stations playing copyright-expired songs 

Radio? What's that?? Good@, get yourself some good headphones and plug into YouTube.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Dan Lewis

B'z didn't break any laws.

"Buurowingu iinza wiindo" cannot be confused with Bob Dylan's Blowin in the Wind.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Dylan didn't ask for any money. Stop blaming him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How greedy and pathetic these people are. There is no commercial interest for Kyoto Univeristy. Such greed beggars belief. I hope Kyoto University takes a stand against these vermin. They should absolutely NEVER pay and should fight it in court as a matter or principle. Completely disgusting. I am determined to make sure I will never ever pay any money again which will end up in the hands of JASRAC and will personally strive to find 100 other people to do the same. If we stand up and counter such greed we can put a stop to it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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