Japan to extend posthumous copyright term to 70 years?

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…

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  1. […] I’m not sure what sparked the interest in changing the current system — one answer might be “YouTube,” which is very popular in Japan and shows the clear interest in quick-n-dirty online TV content (this in contrast to the relatively low interest in DTV, by the way). Another answer however is possible too: according to the same Yomiuri article, the committee in charge, “a panel tasked with studying how to develop universal Internet access in Japan,” also “proposes extending the period of copyright protection from the current 50 years after the death of rights’ holders to 80 years.” Needless to say, there is probably some “balance” talk involved here — you can already hear the broadcasters say something along the lines of: “if you make registration compulsory, that’s fine, but then we want longer protection.” So, worst case scenario: the broadcasters register all their copyrights, refuse to license it to any web-based TV distributors, and Japan is stuck with a protection term of 80 years for all works (after first broadcast / after the author’s death / etc.). Also note that “80 years” is more than the “70 years” review previously called for. […]

    » chosaq » A dangerous deal: compulsory registration for broadcasts + longer protection on September 4th, 2006 at 18:58

  2. […] 20 year extension of the current life+50y protection term of copyrighted works (previous coverage: 1, 2, 3). In September, the Daily Yomiuri reported that a committee of the Internal Affairs and […]

    » chosaq » JASRAC & co. link copyright management consolidation plans to term extension on February 2nd, 2007 at 18:32