This one’s just in… and currently only available in Yomiuri flavor (Japanese version): a group of influential arts and cultural organizations (including JASRAC) is pushing for an 20-year extension of the posthumous protection the current copyright law grants — from 50 to 70 years, that is. Apparently, they’re serious about it, as there are plans to “submit a joint statement about the issue to the Cultural Affairs Agency by the end of September.” The Cultural Affairs Agency then will “seek opinions in fiscal 2007 from an advisory panel to the director general of the agency with the aim of revising the Copyright Law.”
Observers have pointed out the government needs to extend the copyright protection period for intellectual property to include such items because literature and photographs as the government has advocated Japan be a nation strong in intellectual property rights.
To the Japanese government: see what happens when you promote pompous terms as 「知的財産立国」 (a nation built on intellectual property)? Indeed, it opens the door for even more restrictions and regulations. Thank you very much.
Another said it was disgraceful that the duration of copyright protection for works that are protected for 70 years in the United States and Europe is still 50 years in Japan.
Playing the emo-card, hmm.
Writer Masahiro Mita, vice director of the Japan Writers’ Association, said Japanese literature could be translated in other languages in Japan without the author’s permission if the copyright protection period for the works is 50 years in Japan, even though the duration is valid for 70 years in the United States and the European Union.
Obviously, he forgets to say that it also works the other way around: foreign works can be translated into Japanese without the author’s (or better: his heirs’) permission after 50 years. How can this be a bad thing for Japan?
[Masahiro Mita] added the nation might appear to have fallen behind on the copyright issue.
And as the words “Japan” and “fallen behind” cannot possibly be used in the same sentence…
No big moves on the Japanese copyright front, lately. Except maybe for this ITmedia article, quoting Japan’s Business Software Alliance (BSA), which states that 29% of the software used in Japan is illegal – not too bad, compared to Vietnam and China’s 92%.
The article finishes with a (here translated) quote of the BSA’s director:
Although the number of illegal software used in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries in the Asian/Pacific region, the losses are huge – there’s still room for improvement for Japan that aims to become an Asian example of a ‘nation built on intellectual property’.
In today’s Asahi Shimbun, this disturbing news:
The Lower House education and culture committee unanimously endorsed a revision to the Copyright Law that would ban “reverse imports”-CDs produced overseas, imported into Japan and sold at lower prices than domestic versions of the same title.
The reasoning behind the revision:
The revision bill stipulates penalties for CD importers if the “benefit of a recording company is unreasonably violated.”
This right of import for recordings (輸入権) is oh-so wrong, and completely going against the principal goal of “contribut(ing) to the development of culture” (Art 1. Japanese Copyright Law).
And that’s not all:
Taken literally, that could mean Japanese recording companies producing CDs by overseas artists would be able to force a ban on imports of all cheaper foreign-made CDs.
Hence it is not surprising that some 57,000 people reacted and that even even Amazon.co.jp joined the protest.
However, as the Japanese government is determined to turn the country into a nation built on intellectual property (which stands for strenghtening the Japanese copyright law to an absurd extent), it seems to be blind and deaf for the complaints of important stakeholders in the CD business: consumers, artists, …
On a note aside: it seems that Tad Homma is working on a paper about this problem in which he states the following:
If Japanese labels are successful in stopping importation of such foreign-made CDs at the customs based on the ‘presumed infringement’ approach, however, it is a violation of WTO/GATT subject to trade retaliation by exporting countries.
For an overview of related articles I recently quoted, see my Furl archive.
コントロールの強化は本当に文化に寄与するのか？ (Does increased control really contribute to culture?) is the title of an excellent article by Akio Nakamata over at Nikkei Net.
Nakamata focuses on the recent move to a right of import for recordings (輸入権) and links it with the emergence of Copy Controlled CDs (CCCD) on the Japanese market. His analysis seems to make sense – a CD import ban would limit the choice of the Japanese consumer to the Copy Controlled variant of the CD he or she likes to buy; an imported, cheaper and less-restricted (but legal!) alternative won’t be available any longer. Nakamata states that this is part of the Japanese government’s wacky plan to become a ‘nation built on intellectual property’ (知的財産立国) – I’m afraid he’s right.
In related news and found at Nakamata’s blog: a Japanese version of Lessig’s famous Free Culture lecture (transcript). Worth a look.
Link credit: Copy & Copyright Diary, where you can also find 4 other links to articles about the recent 輸入権 fuss.