Kurosawa films center of suit

Toho targets DVD sales company

TOKYO — Toho filed suit in Tokyo District Court on Monday against a DVD sales company for copyright violations on eight Akira Kurosawa pics, including the classics “Ikiru” and “Sugata Sanshiro.”

Toho, the studio where the helmer spent some of the most productive years of his career until his death in 1998, is suing Tokyo-based Cosmo Contents, which has been selling DVD knockoffs of Kurosawa films for ¥1,000 ($8.54) per copy vs. Toho’s own list price of $51.28.

Based on its losses so far, Toho is estimating the damage at $128,205.

Before 1971, Japan’s copyright law protected pics for 38 years after the creator’s death. In 1971, the law was revised to protect film copyrights for 50 years after release.

Toho is claiming that, since the eight pics in question were released before 1971, the old law should apply, meaning that their copyright extends to 2036 — 38 years after Kurosawa’s death.

Cosmo Contents claims the post-1971 law gives it the right to distribute the films, all of which were released more than 50 years ago.

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