Japanese copyright decision

The IPKat has learnt of a Japanese copyright decision from Mainichi Daily News. The Tokyo District Court has ruled that a company which sold cheap copies of certain of Chaplin’s films infringed his copyright, which is still valid until 2015. The decision was taken under the old copyright act, which grants individuals rights until 38 years after their deaths.

The IPKat suspects from the report (but isn’t quite sure) that the novelty comes from a dispute over whether the old copyright law applies (all guidance from readers would be appreciated). He’s also not quite sure what the rationale is behind 38 years post-mortem, rather than any other period.
Japanese copyright decision Japanese copyright decision Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, August 30, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. This case was remarkable because it was the first case that a foregin legal entity, which holds a copyright of Chaplin’s film, claimed for both injunction and damages,and the claim has been accepted.

    http://www.courts.go.jp/hanrei/pdf/20070830144013.pdf (an english translation of this case is not available).

  2. The Japanese version of the article appears (no expert on Japanese...) to say the old law granted 33 years from death of creators in the case of companies, 38 years for individuals; the 1971 law changing this to 50 years, and the 2004 law to 70 years.

    Since even the minimum of these numbers would still be infringing as of 2007 if Chapman died in 1977, the controversy surely can't be about which law applies, it has to be be about something else - for instance whether any of the laws should apply at all, for some other reason.

    Cheers, Luke

  3. I suspect that the Treaty of San Francisco is involved here. (NB My Japanese is extremely rusty and was never good enough to follow a legal argument!) This resulted in the extension of copyright terms for certain Western works due to Japanese neglect of Berne Convention obligations from 1938 until after WWII.

    Here's a link to the text of the Treaty:
    (see Article 15)


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