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Otsuka Ai Pakuri!


This week’s Shukan Bunshun has a story entitled 「”中高生の歌姫”大塚愛の新曲にパクリ疑惑!?”」(“Suspicions of plagiarizing for the “song queen of middle-schooler/high schoolers” Otsuka Ai‘s new song.) Is it just me or are there not a lot of sensational “pakuri” cases in the news all of a sudden? Between these stories and a new stricter sampling policy for major label releases, are Japan’s attitudes towards intellectual property converging towards the Western model?

Update: I looked over the article last night. Otsuka apparently ripped-off the chorus melody from a song by minor visual-kei artist WYSE. (And Shukan Bunshun ripped off Cyzo by demonstrating the pakuri through comparing the melodies’ musical notation side by side.)

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

6 Responses

  1. antonin Says:

    a new stricter sampling policy for major label releases

    can you elaborate on that ?

  2. Emmanuel Says:

    Alot of Japanese popular music and entertainment strikes me as quite plageristic (especially anime where whole series are “inspired” by others).

    While this can be a bad thing, if done well derivative works also allow an artist to explore the nuances of a situation that we’re explored in a previous work.

    If done badly, derivative works creates sub-genres of zombie-like incarnations of the same work. There are huge sections of anime I hate because of this. The “maid” phenomenon for a year or two back, the “killer little girl” idea that was started brilliantly with Noir–even Evangelion has “inspired” series, a notable one being Rahxephon but there are many others.

    Inversely, Evangelion draws cues and elements from nearly the entire history of the Mecha genre that came before and brilliantly makes something fresh.

  3. marxy Says:

    a new stricter sampling policy for major label releases

    My roomate works for a big record label here and used to manage a very big hip-hop act. The new reincarnation of said hip-hop act played him their new song, which used the main sample from “Let Me Clear My Throat” (what’s the original? or is this the original?) They were not allowed to release the song as is, and only could put it out once they essentially registered it as a “cover.” Unlike the days of P5, sample clearing is getting to be a big deal here, although I don’t know what the catalyst was.

    As for influences and borrowing, yes, of course, it’s all about degree and usage. Bad pakuri is just bad.

  4. JB Says:

    “are Japan’s attitudes towards intellectual property converging towards the Western model?”

    I really hope not…

  5. trevor Says:

    i dunno, guesss its just me. but if your going to sample someone [pre-recorded music], and profit from it. you should pay for the rights. if you can’t afford to sample. don’t do it. unless your just that untalented..

    and sampling and “inspired by” are 2 completely different things.

  6. Dave Says:

    I think the issue here is that you can’t sample someone *unless* you are going to profit from it. If you just want to sample for the purposes of artistic work without a big market, you won’t actually be able to afford it.

    I’m guessing that there’s no standard contract available for sampling that would make it accessible to small players (e.g. for a 4-second sample, pay 2c for each time it is pressed onto a CD). You probably need to involve lawyers and such, which means that only large acts that are already commercially successful can afford to sample.

    So from an artistic point of view, sampling is only available to already-successful acts, while the avant-garde aren’t able to sample (legally, anyway) because they can’t afford it. Moby can do it, but Joe Schmo in his bedroom can’t afford a lawyer so he’s unable to make music the way Moby does.

    This really clashes with the way most art actually works. In most cases artists making new works have studied the work of many previous artists and will naturally incorporate parts of it they like into the work along with some of their own ideas. (Or sometimes only the arrangement is new.)

    From a business point of view it all kind of makes sense (in that it’s attractive to sell something to a select few rather than having everyone use it for free), but the problem is that the whole area of intellectual property is now so fucked up and legally encumbered that most people don’t want to touch it.

    So instead you get the people who just make the music and figure they’ll pay if they get sued (probably they won’t have enough to make it worthwhile suing them) and the Creative Commons crowd, who want to create a set of standard contracts (mostly based around stuff being free.)

    If you think Japan’s music is derivative, imagine my surprise when I went to karaoke in Taiwan and found out that the same tunes are available (sung by different artists of course) – in fact all throughout Korea, Japan, HK etc… probably it’s all been outsourced to five or ten songwriters who make all of the pop music in the Eastern hemisphere.