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Reverse import ban bill unstoppable

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.

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