Tokyo court nixes Par appeal

Pic went out of copyright before 2004 extension ruling

A Tokyo court has rejected Paramount Pictures’ appeal of a lower court decision holding that cheap DVD knockoffs of its 1953 pic “Roman Holiday” were not a violation of copyright.

The judges ruled Tuesday that the case was too similar to another recently decided against the same complainant, explaining there would “little public benefit” in trying the case.

In 2004, Japanese law was revised to extend the copyright another 20 years. The lower court ruled in July that “Roman Holiday” went out of copyright the year before, and the extension could not be retroactively applied. The company releasing the cheap DVDs, Tokyo-based First Trading, was therefore not in violation of Japanese copyright law.

Par is reportedly considering a civil suit against the company but has not decided how to proceed.

On Friday the Tokyo District Court ruled against Par in its request for an injunction and payment of damages for DVD sales of another Paramount classic, “Shane.”

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