Posted by: Leek | December 10, 2010

DYE and NEVER x OVER: Not either of their best works.

After a lot of hiatus I’m able to come back. Sorry it’ll have to be on a One Shot Article and not a very fun one at that.

Awhile during the big stream of news, a friend of mine sent me a message one day on Skype asking “Hey, what do you think about DYE and NEVER x OVER?”. I gave a bit of a glazed look at the message and merely replied, “Frankly, I find neither of them to be very good songs”. As you could imagine my friend quickly re-phrased it to ask about the recent situation that had come to fall on most ears in the JE and Vocaloid communities. Little did he know that being who I was, I had long since been discussing such things. It’s not something I was enjoying discussing and much of the popular discussion did little more then give me a headache.

Now that things have quieted down and information is at a pause, I will say my piece. No, this is not me taking a strike at AVTechNO and trying to claim that there are no similarities. No, this is not me as a Vocaloid composer and community member trying to deliberately talk down on Kat-tun. No, this is just me getting mad at about everyone else. I realize many composers have been keeping quiet on the situation to avoid sullying their reputations. But as someone who has nothing to lose or to gain, I will speak on the situation.


Overview of Events and My Situation
First off, I will summarize the situation a bit. So just in case you are not familiar.

Awhile back, (I don’t remember the exact release date) AVTechNO released the song DYE using the Vocaloid2 software. It was not just a minor release and was put up for distribution on iTunes and several other online MP3 distributors. It appeared on an EXIT TUNES CD sometime during the May period release time.

Late November, Kat-tun releases their new single with the song NEVER x OVER ~Is your part~ included. Or something like that. I’m not the biggest Kat-tun fan and am doing all this from my head. But more or less the release came well after DYE had time to spread, is the point. There’s no real question of relative release times.

After the release of NEVER x OVER, rumors spread on VIP (2ch) and other places of the similarities between the two songs. Shit breaks down.

As if that wasn’t bad, AVTechNO takes down his videos off of Nico (as well as closing his Twitter I believe). More or less, this causes more panic about what is going on behind the scenes. More rumors spread and news starts to hit as well as videos showing the resemblance between the two songs.

AVTechNO eventually apologized for taking the videos down. Gave some reasoning and made his personal comments on the similarities. As of now he has yet to say any more words on the situation.

More or less this was the skinny on the situation. While I might be missing exact points, it was a big pile of rage. There was no big war between Kat-tun or AVTechNO and most of it came down to misunderstandings and personal pressures. But where was I in all of this?

As you could imagine, even if there were no public opinions, Vocaloid composers whispered among each other. It was a nasty situation since there has never been a case like this before. We threw around our opinions and many of us sent our encouragement to AVTechNO. I’m not personally acquainted with him myself to be honest but it’s hard to ignore a colleague. More or less things got messier as more public word hit and we all decided to keep our mouths shut. Perhaps some may have made public statements but it was generally a matter of personal choice. Granted, I was very proud as the conversation between one another as composers was relatively civil and I believe everyone understood the true level of the situation. One of the times you appreciate who you work with more then ever.

Now that is out of the way, perhaps I will state a very brief opinion. Please do not comment just to argue with me about what I am about to say. This is not the focus of my article and you will not sway my opinion in any shape or form. I am not trying to win anyone to my side either. I will not provide any links to comparing videos or preview links. I will allow people to do their own research and determine things on their own accord.

Yes, I believe their is a funny scent in the air. No, the songs are not exactly the same all the way through. But from my own personal scrutinizing there are eerie similarities between DYE and NEVER x OVER for at least the first minute. No, it’s not pitch for pitch plagiarism but by my judgement, it feels that something is strange. I do understand techno is a very sensitive genre to speak of concerning something like this but regardless of this, I believe the first minute of both songs share too many semblances to personally ignore. I would consider that AVTechNO has a case from a composer to composer standpoint.

Now that I am out from under the gun. It is time for the meat of this article.

The Bigger Picture
Oh, where to start? Perhaps we’ll go to the side that incited most of this, the Vocaloid camp. Now I’ve always been proud of most Vocaloid community members (at least those overseas) in that they are very aware of who is bringing them their music. It made me feel like they’re, if nothing else, aware of the existence of those providing the music. While I still consider that most uselessly focus on Miku, Luka, Rin, what have you, they’re all around good people. So you could imagine my rage when many began to attack a false enemy.

So, why are you slinging bad words at Kat-tun? What did they do? Honestly? They sang a song. Does that give you the right to call them out? No. Does that give you a reason to call Johnny’s Entertainment out? Of course not. Who wrote the song? From what I know I believe it was Hans Johnson and that name didn’t come up for a very long time in calling people out. For quite awhile I was curious as to if any of these people I had once enjoyed the company of really did appreciate those writing the music. Perhaps it was just a minor name in their head and hardly did mean anything. If they had the right mindset then they wouldn’t have attacked Kat-tun by instinct….right? This is what bothered me most and still bothers me. Even now, people are still calling Kat-tun and Johnny’s Entertainment out.

Am I saying that they might not be in the wrong? Not exactly. It is possible that Hans Johnson said something to the staff, Kat-tun, or Johnny fucking Kitagawa himself. Perhaps they were all aware they were plagiarizing a song but did so anyway. Yes, they’d be in the wrong but legally responsible? Not in my eyes. It would be unfortunate but they didn’t write the song. Of course, I don’t understand how laws work concerning this. But it gives the Vocaloid camp no right at all to make statements against Kat-tun. Until there is an official statement, then please do place the blame where it should fall.

As, I said before. I do feel bad for AVTechNO in all of this. He did, as far as I can tell from my side, nothing wrong. I am personally happy that he removed the videos (something I will get back to later). Whether it was a reason of stress and may have caused some more trouble, I believe it was a good form of crowd control. Had DYE stayed up, it would have become a warzone of comments (hint: it already was) and having to see that as the one who uploaded it hurts. But let’s leave him for a second and go over to the other side.

Now Johnny’s Entertainment fans I originally believed were taking the situation the right way. Well, at first until I did digging. Now I have nothing against the JE camp. And some who know me might know I have a large man crush on Tsuyoshi from the Kinki Kids. Regardless, my ex is a big fan, a good friend is a big fan and both have forced me into regular talks about JE related issues. You could figure it was a bit tense when all of us were talking and the issue was brought up. Granted, both (perhaps because they are around me so much) acted well and had little to no reaction to the issue. Point is, I sit in both of these camps. Thus why I consider it proper to scold both for acting rash.

I don’t hate Kat-tun fans for acting up. By the stupidity of members of the Vocaloid camp, Kat-tun was getting terribly badmouthed. Perhaps these Vocaloid camp members are to blame for everything. I don’t know. The point is that Kat-tun fans didn’t need to get defensive. I said it before. Kat-tun. Did. NOTHING. You guys could have just stood by and took it normally. Blow it off. Something. Don’t act up. But no, for some reason there was a reason to escalate this. So let me get to some statements from the Kat-tun camp that can be addressed.

One is the claim that AVTechNO incited this. No, he did not. I am well aware that the start of this was those listening to music and largely was 2ch related. Things spread to Twitter and was probably one of the leads to AVTechNO flat out deleting his own Twitter page. I’m more then sure that 1000 tweets going at you for something like this (as an independent composer) would make you want to stab yourself. This is probably the stress that led to the removal of videos to further prevent all the slander. So let’s throw those very nasty claims out, alright? I hate the slander against Kat-tun too but don’t slander a victim. I realize I’m taking pity on him since I believe Hans Johnson in the wrong, but try and see it from another side.

Now I read all those trying to say the songs were not similar. I won’t say anything about it. But what bothered me when is people said things such as “Well even if. This happens all the time! You’re just picking on it because it’s mainstream.”

NO.

NO.

The Vocaloid community are a ton of vultures. I’ve seen so many plagiarism call outs it’s not even funny. This goes a lot of ways. Whether it be within the community or outside, there is a lot of bad business. It’s not fun and it’s partly a reason I’m afraid to release anything. A lot of these are pretty flimsy claims and they’re just slander to be honest. I’ve seen people scared away and numerous songs flat out deleted because of claims like these. But let’s step away from this for a moment.

Whether or not you say that. What of it? That’s like saying, “Oh, plagiarism is fine. Just ignore it”. No, a crime is a crime. Perhaps it is only getting attention because it’s a mainstream group, but does that make it legal? I hope your answer is no. Just like any other crime, not all of them can be caught. As a composer, I’d love if all cases of plagiarism were stopped but it just can’t happen. Just look on Muzie, you’ll see a lot of amateur music completely unprotected gets released there on a day by day basis. For big company composers it’s a literal goldmine. My point is don’t try and dismiss this in such a terrible way. A crime is a crime. And like any other crime it can be committed by anyone but, regardless, should be punished the same way.

I could address a lot but my point is this. To everyone, get away from your personal issues for a moment. Remember that this is a war between composers. Don’t put yourself in the wrong state of mind because it is affecting something that is so close to you. Vocaloid camp, yes, I don’t like seeing a composer and, at that, a colleague being wronged. Still, don’t create a scapegoat and draw potential innocents into a battlefield. Kat-tun camp, yes, I don’t like seeing Kat-tun getting needlessly slandered. Don’t let that steer your eyes away from the crime or as a reason to slander the original victim.

Conclusion
Now, just a bit of wrap up.

What did this do? Well, it sure as hell put AVTechNO at top composer status. After the incident, DYE skyrocketed to top downloads about everywhere and got a ton of attention. Despite the stress on him, AVTechNO is getting some nice benefits at the same time. I can’t say much for Kat-tun. I haven’t seen any real comments on the incident (nor have I bothered to search any out) but they seem to have been, sales wise, unaffected by it. Like that’s a surprise though.

I believe this is reality really hitting us in the face. We’re in a growing age and the amateur scene in Japan is getting big. At the same time I thank Karen-T and other companies for doing their best to get these amateurs paid for their hard work. It also gives them a bit of barrier in terms of legal issues such as this. But at the same time, it still shows that they’re not mainstream. No, AVTechNO hasn’t struck it big and isn’t running with a major label. It’s a rough problem and hard to find the right protection for a composer like him who is really between complete indies and mainstream. This is something that came up a lot between private Vocaloid composer discussions.

The case of big bad company bossing around the little guy is always a sad story. It’s also one that rarely skates under the radar. Do I wish to see it reach some proper resolution? Of course. I hope to get more news from at least AVTechNO’s side to see what his plans are. As a composer, I want him to pursue legal action and see how far it goes. I believe it will be hard case if done the wrong way. I would hope that Hans Johnson and him could have a proper case against each other rather then Johnny’s Entertainment stepping in. Can I see them stepping in? Perhaps. If this is the case then there will be some room to demonize them. And more or less, the situation will really turn scary.

With that I have said my piece. I wish AVTechNO the best of luck and perhaps I will be writing a sadder or happier follow up article in the future.

PS: You might be wondering why I am writing this article in English. Why not in Japanese where a lot of this started and is taking place? Well, more or less you can imagine after awhile I invoked all my rage where I could in Japan. But, there are fans all over and I figured it best to address everyone. Plus, I have seen similar comments from both English and Japanese sides alike. Just because I generally don’t pay attention to the English side of things (at least with Vocaloid) don’t think I don’t have people watching over you.

Until then, I will reiterate my title and first line to end things on a more humorous note. Whether it be DYE or NEVER x OVER, I don’t like either song to be honest and I’ve heard better from both.

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