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Copyright Support Station

Act on Partial Amendment to Japanese Copyright Act took effect on January 1, 2019 (January 18, 2019)

The Act on Partial Amendment to the Japanese Copyright Act, approved on May 18, 2018 and promulgated on May 25, 2018, took effect on January 1, 2019.

Revised provisions in the Act came into force on January 1, 2019, except for those relevant to copyright restriction for digitalization of education. The revised provisions relevant to copyright restriction for digitalization of education will be put into force later.

Note that another partial amendment to the Japanese Copyright Act, made in response to the issue of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11 agreement), came into force on December 30, 2018.

Yanagimachi shopping district in the city of Yamatokoriyama in the Nara prefecture removes goldfish telephone booth (April 13, 2018)

A goldfish telephone booth in the Yanagimachi shopping district in the city of Yamatokoriyama in the Nara prefecture got pointed out to be copyright infringement. It is to be removed in the near future.
The spectacle of goldfish swimming in a telephone booth became a popular topic of conversation, a sightseeing spot for being instagrammable, etc.

TPP - plans to freeze topics like copyright term extension, etc. (December 1, 2017)

Regarding the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) the host countries Japan and Vietnam announced that there is mutual consent on a new agreement that freezes 20 topics such as copyright term extension, etc.
Many of the topics that are put on hold were requested by the U.S.A., and center around the fields of intellectual property and investments.
Among the topics, the regulation that obligates to extend the copyright protection term to 70 years after the death of the author was put on hold this time, despite talks related to the Japanese copyright law which provides a protective term of 50 years.

Copyright infringement case in which pirated arcade games and emulator were sold in pairs (November 14, 2017)

The Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS) announced on November 10, 2017 that the Consumer and Environmental Protection Division of the Yamagata Prefectural Police, Sagae Police Station, and Kaminoyama Police Station arrested a newspaper delivery man (age 44) in Hamura city of Tokyo on suspicion of copyright infringement. The man made, onto hard disks of PCs, unauthorized copies of pieces of software of arcade games of CAPCOM CO., LTD., Koei Tecmo Games, Sega Interactive, and Taito Corporation, and was selling the PCs on an Internet auction site.

A detective(s) of the Yamagata Prefectural Police found during cyber-patrol that the man was selling the PCs, and contacted the owners of the copyrights through the ACCS, which led to this arrest. The man copied emulator "MAME" and the arcade games onto the hard disks of the PCs, and was selling the PCs on the site with an explanation "you can play 8000 or more arcade games". It seems that the pieces of software were copied onto the hard disks such that purchasers could immediately play these arcade games. Two purchasers in Yamagata prefecture bid a total amount of 50,300 yen for the PCs, and made a successful bid.

Full-text search service for books - developments in the revision of the Copyright Law (February 24, 2017)

On February 13, 2017 the Agency for Cultural Affairs put together a plan for a revision of the Copyright Law in order to allow the digitalization of books without consent of the copyright holder and to allow full-text search online services which display parts of books through searching for specific keywords.
After this a draft for the revision of the Copyright Law might be submitted to the parliament and might come into force from next year on at the earliest.

Some Curation Media Suspend Their Publication (December 23, 2016)

Some famous curation media, including medical curation media "WELQ" (curation is collection of information on the Internet) operated by DeNA Co., Ltd. are suspending their publication on the Internet.
Erroneous medical information and illegal reproduction against the Copyright Law were found in WELQ which became the beginning of this issue, and Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, Tokyo, Metropolitan Government regarded this issue as a problem and ordered DeNA to visit there. In order to deal with such situations, on November 29, 2016 DeNA which operates WELQ suspended publication of WELQ.
Recently, numerous curation media to which erroneous information and illegal reproduction were similarly pointed out have been commonly published on the Internet. Facing this issue, increasing number of curation media are suspending their publication.

Two Suspects Are Arrested for Illegal Translation of Lines of Foreign Films, and Publication of Subtitles Date on Internet, Suspicion of Violation of Copyright Law (July 15, 2016)

Kyoko Prefectural Police Headquarters arrested two suspects on July 5, 2016, for the reason, for example, that they translated lines of unreleased foreign films and published them on the internet without permission.
The Copyright Law of Japan, Article 27, protects a right for allowing a copyright holder to translate a work, and it was a first time in Japan to apply infringement of a translation right against illegal translation of subtitles of foreign films.

Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines Established (July 8, 2016)

Star Trek rights holders, a broadcasting company CBS and a film company Paramount Pictures announced guidelines for avoiding Star Trek fan films being accused of copyright infringement.
Many fan films have been published for the Star Trek series, which started being broadcasted in 1966. The Star Trek fans are confused by the sudden announcement of the guidelines which give them the impression of controlling the Star Trek fan films.

JASRAC Takes Simultaneous Legal Measures Nationwide against Stores Using BGM without Paying Copyright Fees (June 9, 2016)

On June 7, 2016, JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) announced that it simultaneously sought civil arbitrations in summary courts nationwide against stores that use BGM without filing applications for music copyrights with JASRAC.
JASRAC filed this second petition following the first petition in 2015. The second petition was filed against 187 businesses for 212 stores. Among them, 132 businesses for 151 stores are hair salons.
In 2002, JASRAC began managing copyrights for businesses that play BGM. At that time, many businesses used business BGM through cable music etc., and there was few cases that require an individual application from each store to JASRAC. However, in recent years, there are various BGM sources, such as CDs on the market, mobile music players, PCs, Internet ratio etc., and JASRAC explains that if such BGM sources are used, each store need to file an application for copyrights with JASRAC.

Japan Cabinet Office Publishes a New Amendment Bill to Copyright Law on TPP Basis. (April 1, 2016)

On March 10, 2016, the Japan Cabinet Office published, on their website, a new amendment bill to the Copyright Law on the TPP basis.
In addition to the non-complaint provision of copyright infringement, which has long been the topic of discussion, the amendment bill includes a provision to forbid, as copyright infringement, avoidance of “access control”.

The “access control”, which is also called “access guard”, is a means for technically limit viewing and/or listening of copyrighted works, and is used in, for example, copy-controlled CDs.

According to the current Copyright Law, an act (ripping) of avoiding cryptographic techniques used in copy-controlled CDs and DVDs and reproducing the same is not within the scope of reproduction intended for private use, and is prohibited as infringement of reproduction rights. However, use of copyrighted works by avoiding access control without reproducing such works has not been regulated. Such use includes, for example, fraudulently viewing digitally-broadcasted programs, which are encrypted so that only contractors can view the programs, with use of illegally produced B-CAS cards.

According to the amendment bill, such avoidance not associated with reproduction is to be regulated as “constructive infringement”, though no criminal penalty is stipulated.

Agency for Cultural Affairs Makes Database for So-Called Orphan Works (March 28, 2016)

The Agency for Cultural Affairs made a database for so-called orphan works. Orphan works indicate works whose copyright holders are unidentified. The term “orphan” is used for such works because copyright holders of such works which were made public in the past are unidentified and thus it is unclear to whom a permission to use should be requested.
So far, in a case where a person wants to use an orphan work, it is necessary for the person (i) to make “considerable efforts” such as consultation of a directory, and an inquiry to a copyright management organization, (ii) to ask information provision through, for example, a newspaper advertisement, and then (iii) to deposit compensation equivalent to royalties with the country if a copyright holder of the orphan work is not identified even performing the above procedures. In addition, the same procedures are required to be made every time the person uses the orphan work (ruling system, Article 67 and the following of the Copyright Law) However, until now, regarding works registered in the database, a person can use the work by only asking information provision through, for example, a newspaper advertisement and depositing compensation. Accordingly, the person who wants to use the work registered in the database can save effort to look for a copyright holder.

"Kumamon" Product Sales Surpasses 100 Billion Yen (March 11, 2016)

On March 2, 2016, the Kumamoto Prefectural Government announced that sales of products featuring Kumamoto Prefecture’s PR character "Kumamon" surpassed 100 billion yen in 2015 for the first time.
In 2015, sales of Kumamon products reached 100.7 billion yen (including 2.1 billion yen of overseas sales), up 57 percent from the previous year. The figure represented the fifth straight year of record sales for the Kumamon products since the local government began keeping track of sales. Active use of the character has been promoted by the fact that the Kumamoto Prefecture allows companies etc. to use the trademark with no charge.
The Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture Ikuo Kabashima stated “Kumamon is greatly contributing to the economic wealth of the prefecture. It is surprising that they sold this much overseas”.