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Efforts to eradicate pirated software copies and IMSTA FESTA

IMSTA FESTA is a music technology festival held periodically around the world. This year, our company will be in charge of the local management for IMSTA FESTA Tokyo 2024 in Japan.

[IMSTA FESTA Tokyo 2024: Event Outlines]

  • Date and time: Sunday, June 23, 2024, 11:00-18:00

  • Venue: Tokyo School of Music, Shibuya Annex (1-17-13 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo)

  • Free admission (pre-registration required:

  • Organizer: IMSTA

  • Cooperation: Tokyo School of Music, Shibuya, Music Tech Solutions, Inc.

IMSTA (The International Music Software Trade Association, IMSTA, headquarters: Toronto, Canada) is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of the music software industry. In order to reduce the use of illegal software copies (pirated copies), they conduct surveys on the actual distribution of software and raise awareness of the negative effects of software piracy.

One of the main missions of IMSTA and the FESTA it hosts is to eradicate pirated software copies. Actually this is a headache that manufacturers and dealers have had for a long time. In this article, I’d like to talk about the current situation and issues of illegal distribution of music production software in Japan.

1. Why the distribution of pirated copies cannot be stopped

There are probably three main reasons why the distribution of pirated copies cannot be stopped.

(1) Difficulty of removal procedures

The first reason is that the regulations and measures against the distribution of pirated copies are not sufficient.

I assume that the sales websites also have circumstances that make it difficult to regulate and take measures, but from the dealer's point of view, even if they find a sales websites for pirated copies, it is not easy to request the sales websites owners to remove the page, and even if they request removal, there is no guarantee to be granted. I feel that in many cases manufacturers and dealers end up giving up because it’s not effective even if they take measures by taking time and effort. 

(2) Difficulty in distinguishing pirated copies from discounted official copies and second-hand copies

The second reason is that it is often difficult to distinguish between official copies sold at a discount and second-hand copies, and pirated copies.

Some software has various distribution channels, and even official copies may be sold at a fraction of the price of the developer's official sales website. Once you become aware of the existence of such discounted official copies, it is likely that pirated copies listed on sales websites will look the same as discounted official copies.

As for second-hand copies, the EULA (End-User License Agreement) that comes with the software often prohibits second-hand sales, but there are also cases where they are sold without complying with this, and if you have vague knowledge or understanding of the software version, it can be difficult to distinguish them from pirated copies.

(※It is difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal when it comes to secondhand digital content sales. For example, in the video game industry, there has been a long-standing debate between game software developers and secondhand game software retailers over the distribution of secondhand goods, and in 2002, the Japanese Supreme Court ruled that the free distribution of secondhand video games was LEGAL. Reference: "A Truly "Straightforward" Supreme Court Decision!)!) Secondhand TV Game Trial", Nikkei BP, April 2002)

(3) End-user’s Awareness

And the third reason is, unfortunately we have to pint out, the "low awareness of end-users regarding pirated copies".

The provision and use of pirated copies constitutes copyright infringement. Furthermore, we all need to be aware that these actions cause economic losses to providers of music production software, affecting the survival of the product, and eventually causing excellent music production software to disappear from the world, which is a disadvantage to all end-users.

IMSTA's main mission is to raise awareness of this issue, and the issue is explained in detail on the official page.

▼The reality of piracy

▼Learn the correct knowledge about piracy※

(※In this article you see “software is too expensive” as an example of a mistaken idea that justifies the use of pirated copies. In fact, continuous software development takes a huge amount of time and money, it has been covered in our blog before.)

▼[macOS] Application development and OS compatibility

2. How to eliminate the distribution of pirated copies

Piracy is not a problem limited to music production software. Perhaps one of the roots of the current electronic piracy is the piracy of music files that occurred in the early 2000s, when it became possible to rip CDs on a computer and exchange files on the Internet.

At that time, the technological innovation of the distribution system by the iTunes Store, which was launched in 2003, contributed greatly to the eradication of pirated music files. iTunes showed one direction of piracy countermeasures: if you provide an official copy that is in higher quality and easier to find and purchase than a pirated copy at a reasonable price, people will purchase an official copy at a fair cost rather than taking the time and risking trouble to use a pirated copy.

However, technological countermeasures require investments that overwhelm the piracy technology, so it is not always possible to do what the iTunes Store did.

In order to eliminate the distribution of pirated copies, in addition to technological countermeasures, it seems important for individual end users to know the disadvantages that the use of pirated copies brings to society as a whole and to acquire the knowledge to distinguish pirated copies.

In fact, this latter “distinguishing” can be quite difficult sometimes, but after listening to the opinions of some of my industry colleagues, I'd like to show you some ideas about it.

If you come across a case where it is difficult to make a judgment, it is best to ask the manufacturer or domestic distributor.


Given that software development and distribution are now global, it is necessary to take a global perspective when it comes to the problem of software piracy.

The effectiveness of countermeasures will likely depend on the level of each country's legal environment and people's awareness of copyright, and there may be cases where the same product is actually suffering serious damage in overseas markets and is on the brink of development.

With this in mind, as end users, we need to be aware of the problem of piracy and make an effort to avoid purchasing it.



The finale intensive course is being held in parallel on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. Click on the banner below for details. (Lecture is given in Japanese. ) 

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