On January 1st, 2005, both the controversial right of import for recordings and the right of rental for books and magazines came into effect. As noted on Copy & Copyright Diary, the changes are not reflected yet on the CRIC website, meaning that there is no English translation available for now.
So far, the scope or the right of import for recordings is unclear—2005 will show how far it reaches. As for the right of rental for books and magazines, the first results are in: about a month ago, Benli blog reported that the yet to be launched (?) Rental Right Management Center (貸与権管理センター) that serves as an intermediary between the rental shops and the authors and publishers, will not allow any rentals during a period of three weeks after publication and thereafter charge book rental shops a fee of 280 Yen per volume. The author gets 80 Yen, the rest goes to the Center itself, the publisher, etc. In a reaction to this development, Book-Off, one of Japan’s biggest retailers of second-hand books, CDs and videos, decided to close its book rental business, thereby affecting more than 200 shops throughout Japan.
By the way, that’s not all: the Sankei Web article mentioned above quotes a member of the Mystery Writers of Japan group, who wants the right of rental to be expanded to public libraries. (I wrote about this before.)
Unfortunate developments, to say the least.
(Via Copy & Copyright Diary)
Last week, I quoted Asahi Shimbun, which stated that, with the reverse import ban bill becoming reality, Japanese recording companies producing CDs by overseas artists might be able to force a ban on imports of all cheaper foreign-made CDs.
An article in Wednesday’s Japan Times however shows that that will not be the case.
Revisions to the Copyright Law to block the import of Japanese music CDs manufactured overseas will not affect CDs from Western countries, two major CD retailers said Tuesday.
In other words, even when the reverse import ban is enacted, Japanese consumers will still have the choice between the directly imported and cheaper version of a foreign CD and its more expensive domestical version (which sports a Japanese translation of the lyrics, etc.).
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.
I was actually working on another blog entry, but these links simply couldn’t wait:
- The Protection and Use of Copyrights is an English PDF file that gives a nice overview of the not always so nice changes in the Japanese copyright law in the period 2003-2004: “Measures to prevent the reverse import of phonograms”, “Conferral of rental rights for books and magazines”, “Reinforced penalties”, “Stronger copyright protection for cinematographic works”—yep, it’s all there.
- In other news: great evolutions on the Japanese Open Access front. There is not only a new blog in town, but also a real OpenCourseWare project à la MIT’s, listing courses of 6 Japanese universities. Excellent! (via Hans)
It seems like last weeks Copyright Forum (Tokyo) was a lot of fun. This Internet Watch article sheds a light on what was discussed by members of JASRAC, the RIAJ, ACCS and other author’s rights groups.
- The upcoming reverse import ban bill is awesome.
- The copyright protection term has to be extended as much as possible.
- The public domain is evil.
- Computers are recording devices and there is thus no reason to exclude them from the compensations that have to be paid when buying e.g. a video recorder.
- We need more rules and more restrictions in order to protect and let people enjoy culture.
- Forking more cash to the content industry is a good thing.
To ease the pain, a quote from David Weinberger’s upcoming speech for the World Economic Forum:
[…] In making a work public, artists enter into partnership with their audience. The work succeeds insofar as the audience makes it their own, takes it up, understands it within their own unpredictable circumstances. It leaves the artist’s hands and enters our lives. And that’s not a betrayal of the work. That’s its success. It succeeds insofar as we hum it, quote it, appropriate it so thoroughly that we no longer remember where the phrase came from. That’s artistic success, although it’s a branding failure.
(Via Copy & copyright diary + Boingboing)