[No official court ruling.]
“Hachigatsu no Rainy” [“August Rainy”]
Comment by Shuyu Wang
This dispute did not go to court as the publishing company of the defendant songwriter quickly admitted and apologized for plagiarism. Listening to both audio clips as provided, one can easily tell that the two works are strikingly similar with the defending work, essentially a transposition of the complaining work. It is worth noting that a later quantitative study reveals that the melodic sequences of the two songs are 100% identical. The publisher’s public admission of infringement came out within less than one week after the debut of the defending song, which strongly indicates behind-the-scene wrongdoing by the publisher.
The musical “borrowing” of this case brings up the fact that sampling is a music copyright concern beyond the US music industry. Recently, US rapper, Nicki Minaj, settled an infringement claim with Tracy Chapman, from whom Minaj failed to obtain a license to sample her work. Ultimately, Minaj did not include the contested sample in her album, yet the dispute lasted more than two years following the release of the album: Chapman v. Maraj.
Minaj’s attorney declared that it was more cost-efficient to settle the case rather than going to court, so we cannot know how a court would evaluate similarity between the works, and whether it would implement a quantitative analysis. However, the virtual identity presented in Harumaki Gohan would likely easily pass any substantial similarity test, whether in Japan or the US.
 Yuan, Y., Oishi, S., Cronin, C., Müllensiefen, D., Atkinson, Q. D., Fujii, S., & Savage, P. E. (2020). Perceptual vs. automated judgments of music copyright infringement. Proceedings of the 21st International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR 2020), 23–29. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.
Response by LOVE ANNEX, Mori’s former publishing company
Original Response by LOVE ANNEX (Japanese): PDF
English translation of Response by Shuyu Wang (GWU Law School) with Google translation:
Apology for Infringement by Our Former Songwriter
This time, it turns out that our former songwriter has committed infringing conduct.
On April 11, 2018, singer Shuta Sueyahshi debuted the song “M.A.K.E.” at his performance at Budokan. The song was provided by our former songwriter Yamato Mori (hereinafter referred to as “Mori”). After that, when “M.A.K.E.” was distributed through various media, we began to investigate the fact that “M.A.K.E.” was very similar to the song “August Rainy” released by Harumaki Gohan. The investigation revealed that Mori had falsely submitted the sound source of “August Rainy” as his own demo work to us. With regard to the submission of this demo, even though we repeatedly confirmed with Mori that the song was completely his own original work, that there was no copying from the time of production to the release, Mori nevertheless continued to deceive by providing various false testimonies.
(1) We sincerely regret that such a situation has occurred, and we apologize for causing a great deal of inconvenience and concern to Harumaki Gohan, Shuta Sueyoshi, anyone else involved, and our fans. We deeply apologize. Also, as mentioned above, Harumaki Gohan, Shuta Sueyoshi, and anyone else involved have no fault at all.
We decided that it would be difficult for us to continue the management of the contractual relationship that was based on our trust with Mori, so we decided to terminate the contract. We are also discussing future correspondences.
(2) We take this incident very seriously, and we will take the utmost care to prevent recurrence by thoroughly implementing guidance and education and strengthening our management system.