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Maps and Copyright

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Maps are protected by Japanese copyright law.  Map publishers like Zenrin,  show their copyright guidelines on the website and clarify their maps are protected by copyright law. According to Google guidelines, all uses of Google Maps and Google Earth content have to  provide attribution to both Google and its data providers. However, maps images are often used on website, blogs, or somewhere else improperly and illegally. Recently, Iwate prefectural government office of Japan anounced that they had used maps images such as from Google or the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) improperly.  Maps images in question were delated.  

AI-created work and copyrights

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Recently Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used to create various contents, such as songs, novels or poetry. You can hear “Daddy’s Car”, a song in the style of The Beatles.  (Please click here.) This song is partly created by AI. However, it’s a matter of time before AI becomes able to create songs without any human intervention. “Who owns the copyrights to AI-created work?” is now a hot issue in Japan.      

Kumamon’s 2016 Annual Sales

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Accoriding to media reports, 2016 annual sales of “Kumamon”-related merchandise reached a record, at least 128 bilion yen. “Kumamon” is a famous mascot PR character of Kumamoto prefecture in Japan and it was created in 2010 as part of a promotion campaign.  Kumamoto prefectuer allows the use of Kumamon’s image for free under certain conditions.  People who want to use Kumamon’s image need to inform the prefectural government in advance. In 2016,  a series of powerful earthquakes hit Kumamoto prefecture.  “Kumamon” cheered up poeple who were living in evacuation centers after the earthquakes.      

JASRAC sued a wedding reception video production company

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Japanese Society for Rights of Authors (JASRAC) sued a video production company “Video Sonic” for infringement of copyright on music contained in a video screened at a wedding reception.  According to JASRAC, “Video Sonic” has business sites in about 20 places in Japan and produces about 9000 wedding reception video contens a year. It is the first time JASRAC sues a production company that produces “bridal content”.   The amount of claimed damages has not been revealed.      

Maricar Co. was sued by Nintendo

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Do you know Maricar Co. in Japan? Maricar Co. is a japanese company offering Street Go-Karting Tour while dressed as Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad. Maricar Co. also posted pictures of characters such as Mario on SNS. Nintendo claims that such actions constitute infringement of copyright and violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in Japan.  

image character

Platform For a Copyright Holder

Zen International Patents and Trademarks It is anounced that Agency for Cultural Affairs will launch to develop “platform for a copyright holder” website in the field of various kinds of works, such as a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work.  This platform especially would be helpful for users who are condidering searching a copyright holder and requesting for a license to use a copyright work.  Agency for Cultural Affairs will start to publish database related to musical works this year, and continue to publish other field’s works database.    

It will be possible to convert books into data for searching in Japan, without the permission of the copyright owner.

Zen International Patents and Trademarks The Agency for Cultural Affairs has decided to introduce a new clause that makes the full text of the book into electronic data without the permission of the copyright owner. There are services like google books in the United States, but it was not possible to do similar services in Japan, due to the existence of the copyright law. At the earliest, the new clause may be enforced next year.

Illustration of computer system

Hiko-nyan’s design manual was revised !

Zen International Patents and Trademarks In Japan, most local governments have offocial mascot charactor such as KUMAMON, the popular black bear mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture. And most local governments license copyright and trademark rights of the official mascots to private companies. HIKO-NYAN is the famous mascot character in Hikone city, Shiga prefecture. Hikone city changed the design manual defining the scope that can deform Hiko-nyan.  

Picture of hikonyan

Performance rights

Zen International Patents and Trademarks JASRAC, “the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers”,  announced  that it plans to start collecting copyright fees from music school performances, starting from January 2018. About 9,000 music shools will be affected and the amount of collected copyright fees is estimated to be 1 billion to 2 billion yen per year. This announcement has been controversial in Japan. The music schools side raise a strong objection to JASRAC’s policy and stated that “Performances in our music schools are educational so that performance rights is irrelevant”.

Picture of Music classroom

Pictogram and Copyright

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Pictogram is used to simply represent a certain data or information. In Japan, Pictogram was developed at the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic. It has been considered that Pictograms lack creativity and should be denied copyright protection in Japan. However in 2015, Osaka district court ruled that the Pictogram showing “Osaka Castle” (see the image) has creativity and it should be protected by copyright law.

pictram of castle
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