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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