Overview of the Copyright System

Works

A work that is protected by the Copyright Act must meet all of the conditions below:

(1) It must be a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed.

→ Simple data is excluded.

(2) It must be a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed.

→ Ideas are excluded.

(3) It must be a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way.

→ Imitations are excluded.

(4) It must be within the literary, scientific, artistic, or musical domain.

→ Industrial products are excluded.

Specifically, novels, music, artwork, films, computer programs, etc. are some examples of works subject to the Copyright Act.
Compilations which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their content, constitute intellectual creations are protected. This includes newspapers, magazines, and encyclopedias.

Author

The author means the person who creates the work.
While people with creative occupations such as novelists, painters, and composers tend to be considered authors, anybody who has written a novel or draws a picture is an author even if it is not their occupation. Even a young child is considered to be the author of work if he/she draws a picture or writes an essay.

* Authorship of work of a juridical person

When all of the following conditions are met, authorship of work belongs to a company that a creator belongs to, not the person who created the work.

(1) The work is on the initiative of a juridical person or other employer.

(2) The work is made by an employee.

→ If the work is made by a person who was commissioned to do so, or if the person is not in a controlling or subservient relationship with the company, the authorship of the work does not belong to the juridical person.

(3) The work is made in the course of the performance of the employee's duties

→ This is limited to cases where the person is specifically ordered to do so and does not apply to cases where the work is made as a related work such as a lecture preparation by a university professor.

(4) The work is published in the name of the juridical person.

→ Computer programs are often provided without publishing the name of the juridical person, and thus do not need to meet this condition.

(5) Contract or work regulations do not stipulate that the authorship is attributed to an employee.

Accrual of Right and Term of Protection

Copyright, moral rights of the author, and neighboring rights are accrued when the work is created. No procedures are required to establish the right.
The copyright continues to subsist during the author's survival period and the end of the 50-year period following the death of the author.

* Exceptions
Types of copyright Term of protection
Anonymous or pseudonymous works (excluding cases where the pseudonym is commonly known to be the author's pseudonym) 50 years after the work is made public (if it is found that 50 years have elapsed since the death of the author of that work, the copyright is deemed to have expired at the time when 50 years passed since the death of the author.)
Works attributed to an organization 50 years after the work is made public (if the work is not made public within the 50 years of its creation, 50 years after the creation of the work)
Cinematographic works 70 years after the work is made public (if the work is not made public within the 70 years of its creation, 70 years after the creation of the work)

* There are a few special provisions for the term of protection for the work created by a foreign national.

Substance of the author's rights

Moral rights of the authors (rights to protect moral interests of the authors)

Moral rights of the author (right to protect the moral interests of the author) The right to make the work public (Article 18) The right to decide whether a work not yet made public by the author be made public
The right of attribution (Article 19) The right to decide whether to indicate the author's name and right to decide what name is indicated
The right to integrity (Article 20) The right to maintain his/her work and its title free from modification against the author's intent.

Copyright (property right) (the right to authorize or prohibit exploitation of the work)

Copyright (property right) (the right to authorize or prohibit exploitation of the work) The right of reproduction (Article 21) The right to reproduce his/her work in a tangible form by means of printing, photography, photocopy, sound or visual recording, or other methods
The stage performance rights and musical performance rights (Article 22) The right to give a stage performance or musical performance of his/her work
The right of on-screen presentation (Paragraph 2, Article 22) The right to publicly present his/her work via an on-screen presentation
The right to transmit to the public (Article 23) The right to transmit to the public his/her work or publicly communicate the work
The recitation rights (Article 24) The right to recite his/her work publicly
The exhibition rights (Article 25) The right to publicly exhibit his/her original artistic work or unpublished photographic work
The distribution rights (Article 26) The right to make his/her cinematographic work publicly available by transferring ownership of or renting reproductions
The rights of transfer (Paragraph 2, Article 26) The right to make his/her work available to the public through the transferring of the original work or copy of his/her work with the exception of cinematographic work (this does not apply in the case of a transfer of work that was legally transferred once before.)
The right to rent out (Paragraph 3, Article 26) The right to offer his/her work to the public by renting out copies of the work, with the exception of cinematographic work
The translation rights, adaptation rights, etc. (Article 27) The right to translate his/her work, compose a musical arrangement of it, reformulate it, dramatize it, make a film adaptation of it, or otherwise adapt it
The right in the exploitation of a derivative work (Article 28) The right to use a derivative work including translated or adapted work

Free exploitation of work

The Copyright Act stipulates that the work may be exploited without the authorization of the copyright owners by limiting copyright in certain exceptional cases (Article 30 to Paragraph 8 of Article 47).
If the authorization of the copyright owner was required every time the work is exploited or a royalty must be paid as necessary for the exploitation in any cases, the fair and smooth utilization of culturally created work would be hindered and the purposes of the copyright system toward the development of culture could be undermined.
However, the requirements for exploitation are strictly stipulated in order to ensure that the interests of the copyright owner are not unreasonably offended and the normal utilization of the work is not hindered.
In addition, it should be noted that limitations on copyright do not affect the moral rights of an author (Article 50).
It is also prohibited to exploit reproductions created in compliance with these provisions for purposes other than previously stated (Article 49). In addition, the source of the work must be clearly indicated in principle when the work is exploited.

Proper Exploitation of the Work

Copyright is composed of various rights as described above and the exploitation of copyrighted work requires the authorization of the copyright owner. Please check whether authorization is necessary or not by the following process.

Flowchart on the Procedure for Using Works

As a rule, works of other persons cannot be exploited without the authorization of the person except in cases where the copyright is limited. The user must acquire the authority to legally exploit the work. There are four ways to exploit work created by others:

  • (1) Have the authorization of the copyright owner for the use of the work.
  • (2) Have the right of publication established.
  • (3) Have the copyright ownership transferred.
  • (4) Have a ruling issued by the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs.

Medication for Dispute Resolution

When disputes arise concerning copyright, lawsuits and conciliations based on the Civil Conciliation Act are available for third persons to resolve the dispute. In addition to these, due to the unique nature of copyright-related disputes, a system of Mediation for the Resolution of Disputes is provided to pursue simpler and smoother resolution of disputes according to the actual situation.
Mediation is done by conciliators in cases that have been filed with an application with the parties concerned to seek resolutions that are appropriate to the actual situation. Mediation may be called off when a resolution is not expected, including cases where points of disputes raised by the parties are too far apart to resolve.
In addition, the parties concerned may decide of their own free will whether or not to accept the resolution provided by conciliators.

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