Tetsuya Komuro, once Japan’s most popular music producer, whose hit tunes built media conglom Avex into a powerhouse in the 1990s, has been handed a suspended sentence for a copyright sales scam.
On Monday, Osaka District Court handed Komuro a three-year sentence, suspended for five years.
In August 2006, Komuro, who had fallen on hard times after the hits stopped coming, inked a ¥1 billion ($10 million) deal with a buyer from Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, for the rights to 806 tunes. The buyer forked out over half the amount, but Komuro had already signed over the rights to the tunes.
Komuro used $3.3 million of the money to pay off debts to a company called A.C. Holdings, $1.5 million to repay a loan from the auditor and the remaining $200,000 to clear his own credit card debt.
The buyer filed a civil suit against Komuro — and the two parties agreed in July 2008 to a $6 million settlement. When Komuro failed to cough up, the buyer went to the Osaka public prosecutor, who took Komuro and two associates into custody. Komuro confessed to his guilt in the affair, while publicly pledging to “create songs that help people.”
During his legal troubles, Komuro has been supported by Avex prexy Ryuhei Chiba, who has put up Komuro and his wife in his own house.
Following the ruling, Reiko Yukawa, a director of music rights org JASRAC, issued a statement saying that “Since (Komuro) has reflected on his deeds, we would like to see him try for a comeback, but we will not regard a repetition (of his crimes) lightly.”