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Japanese copyright law

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In Japan, the copyright is divided into two: Author's Right and Neighboring Rights. Notice there is no single concept of copyright in Japan. In other words, the copyright is a collective term.

While mostly the copyright law is similar to ones in the other countries, there are some subtle difference. The concept of public domain in Japan is controversial.

Because there is no concept of public domain in Japan's copyright law, even though the materials are claimed public domain, there can be some restrictions such as about commercial use, which has a conflict with GFDL.

Table of contents

Author's Right The copyright law defined the authorship who enjoys "production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way and which falls within the literary, scientific, artistic or musical domain".

The law excludes

  • news
  • programming language

The law provides the author the rights below without firming.

Neighboring Rights

  • Moral Rights
  • Economic Rights

Recent movement

The Compensation System for Digital Private Recording

In 1992, the Compensation System for Digital Private Recording was introduced. According to this system, those who make digital sound or visual recordings for personal use should pay compensation to the copyright owners. This compensation is in advance added to the prices of specified digital recording equipment (DAT, DCC, MD, CD-R, CD-RW) and specified recording media (DVCR, D-VHS, MVDISC, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM) (Japan Copyright Office 2001, 17; ibid. 24). This compensation is collected and distributed by SARAH (Society for the Administration of Remuneration for Audio Home Recording) and SARVH (Society for the Administration of Remuneration for Video Home Recording). In fact, the user of this equipment and media has to pay a sort of fee or so called "compensation" for the fact that he CAN use the described materials for copying of copyright protected works. The public domain is not directly threatened, but in an indirect way, it becomes more difficult (read: expensive) to reproduce works for personal use.

The right of communication to the public (public transmission)

In 1997, the Japanese Copyright Law was updated to expand the coverage of the author's right of communication to the public (established in 1986 under the name of rights of broadcasting and wire transmission) to the stage of making transmittable. The objects of the right of communication to the public are the activities of connecting a server to a network and the activities of transmission (Fujiwara 1999, 98). The Copyright Law defines the concepts public transmission (Copyright Law, article 2, paragraph 1 (7-2)) and interactive transmission (Copyright Law, article 2, paragraph 1 (9-4)). Public transmission means (in simple words) the transmission of radio communication or wire-telecommunication intended for direct reception by the public. In order to deal with the new context of the Internet, the (already existing) concept of interactive transmission (websites, video-on-demand, etc.) made a theoretical move and is now considered as residing under public transmission (besides wire diffusion and broadcasting) (Japan Copyright Office 2001, 30). Interactive transmission stands for "the public transmission made automatically in response to a request from the public" (read: in response to a click with the mouse on a hyperlink). Besides the definitions of both concepts, article 23 (1) of the Copyright Law provides that "(t)he author shall have the exclusive right to make the public transmission of his or her work (including the making transmittable of his or her work in the case of the interactive transmission)". We can consider this as an expansion of the right of public transmission of authors to the preceding stage of making transmittable (available) (Fujiwara 1999, 98-99; Japan Copyright Office 2001, 31) and even talk about a right of making transmittable that goes further than the WIPO Copyright Treaty (Ficsor 2002, 506).

The right of communication to the public (public transmission)

Besides this and in order to comply with the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, a right of making transmittable was also granted to performers and phonogram producers. The scope here is especially to regulate the Internet broadcasting of live performances (Fujiwara 1999, 98; Japan Copyright Office 2001, 31). At first sight, one should say that the law was adapted to the new possibilities the Internet provides - uploading content to a server and accessing context through means of hyperlinks. Indeed, as the difference between simultaneous and non-simultaneous receptions fades (The Japanese Multimedia Report (Ficsor 2002, 198)), it seems to make sense to expand the right of public transmission of authors also to the stage of making transmittable (read: "uploading of content to a server that is accessible by the public"). But on the other hand, when we look at it from the viewpoint of the public domain, the wider reach of the concept of communication to the public means a big limitation of the reach of this public domain. However, I would like to say at this point that this is not a discourse against copyright protection. Indeed, in a lot of cases it seems to work as a system and to create an incentive to produce. We only should be aware that the current transformations in the legislation concerning intellectual property rights - in Japan and in other countries - go very fast and don't seem to take into account all facets of the story, nor remember the very basic goal of copyright, "to contribute to the development of culture".

The Copyright Management Business Law The Copyright Management Business Law In November 2000 the Copyright Management Business Law was enacted. Its main purpose is to facilitate the establishment of new copyright management businesses, in order to "respond to the development of digital technologies and communication networks" (Japan Copyright Office 2001, 27). Meant here are right clearance systems, of which I will explain the risks in section 5, when talking about code. In general, we can say that this law will facilitate the rise of copyright management businesses and possibly create a further limitation of the reach of the public domain.

The right of transfer of ownership

As stated by the Japan Copyright Office, the right of transfer of ownership was established in 1999 in order to enrich the rights of authors. This means that authors, performers and phonogram producers can exercise their right concerning the transfer of the ownership of the original or copies of the work at the first legal transfer thereof. After this, the right will be extinguished (Japan Copyright Office 2001, 32). This new ruling can be considered as a contribution to the recent strengthening of author-centered regimes.

Another aspect of the 1999 amendment of the Japanese Copyright Law was the so called extension of the right of presentation. Before, this right was only granted to cinematographic work (Japan Copyright Office 2001, 32). After the amendment it was extended to all kind of works and at the same time, exactly as the right of transfer of ownership, reaffirming the "importance" of the notion of the author.

External Links

Credit Internet and Copyright in Japan (07-2002) (http://akira.arts.kuleuven.ac.be/andreas/english_paper_gaidai) by Andreas Bovens[?]

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