How Obon Festival Organizers Can Avoid Music Copyright Issues

Obon Festival Organizers, if you’re looking for music to play at your festival without running into copyright issues, you’ve come to the right place.

I released a collection of classic Obon songs that you can use use at your festival, free of charge.

Download Obon Classics

Summary of Music Copyright Law

I am not a lawyer and this article is not meant to be legal advice.

First things first, it’s important to understand music copyright involves

  1. music composition
  2. recordings

In many cases, Obon Festival songs are traditional folk songs and the compositions are in the public domain.  When a composition is in the public domain, you are free to use it without permission.  For example, I can perform Hokkai Bon Uta in public because the composition is in the public domain.

However, in almost all cases, the recordings are not in the public domain.

If I purchase a recording of Hokkai Bon Uta on iTunes and play it in public, this could land me in trouble.

How to Obtain a Music License

If there’s a specific recording of a song you want to use, here’s how to go about obtaining a license.

Most Obon Festival songs are going to be in the JASRAC catalog.  You can confirm by checking the JASRAC Works Information Database Search, which is unfortunately only in Japanese.

If the recording is in the JASRAC catalog, you would contact JASRAC to obtain a license.  I’m guessing there is plenty of paperwork in addition to paying the license fees.

The recordings I made are specifically so that Obon Festival Organizers don’t have to go through these steps.

More Information on Copyright Law

REVERBNATION Blog: What Does Copyright Law Protect?

Music Law 101: What Does Copyright Law Protect?

Behind the Mixer: Your Guide to Playing Church Music and Copyright Infringement!

Your Guide to Playing Church Music and COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!