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Japan extends its copyright protection term to 70 years



As part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement between the US and 11 countries – including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan – had agreed to copyright changes.

On 30th December, 2018, these changes were acknowledged by Japan and it has now extended its copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years post the author’s death. The new changes are aimed towards discouraging piracy in the country.

The law coincides with the TPP going into effect.  However, the law continues to remain independent of the trade partnership. Entertainment companies, including Walt Disney and Warner Bros., have been pressurising the Japanese government to extend the copyright protection.

Additionally, it has been speculated that the intellectual property in the public domain in Japan may return to copyright control. This, however, depends on when the author passes away.

Under the new law, anyone ‘with an interest’ in a particular work – not necessarily the rights-holder – is allowed to sue for ‘perceived’ copyright violation.  For instance, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publisher (JASRAC) can now sue anyone for using a composition without prior permission.

Also, even copyright owners can no longer freely grant a license for fair use, even if they wish to, which includes a living composer who wish to grant permission to a person to use their work for free.

Canada extends its copyright term

As part of a new trade agreement with the US and Mexico, Canada, too, has moved in favour of extending its current copyright term to 70 years after the creator’s death.

In theory, these new changes of extending the copyright term would allow rights-holders to generate more profit for their work. However, it has been debated that these changes will only prove beneficial for major labels and not creators. Currently, the copyright laws in Canada have said to benefit middlemen (major labels) and not up and coming artists, songwriters and producers.


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