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Toho wins Kurosawa pics piracy suit

Studio claimed Japanese co. violated copyrights

TOKYO — Tokyo District Court has ruled in favor of the Toho studio in its piracy suit against a company that made and distributed DVDs of eight pics by helmer Akira Kurosawa.

On Friday, the court said Tokyo-based Cosmo Coordinate was violating Toho’s copyrights and ordered Cosmo to pay $78,127 in damages. Toho had asked for $1.3 million.

Cosmo claimed that its Kurosawa DVDs, including the classics “Sanjuro sugata” (1943), “Stray Dog” (1949) and “Ikiru” (1952), were in the public domain because copyright extended to only 33 years after release when the pics bowed.       

The copyright law changed in 1971, extending the term to 38 years after the creator’s death.

Since Kurosawa died in 1998, the court ruled that the pics are protected until 2036. 

Kurosawa worked at Toho from the 1950s to the 1960s, and the company owns the rights to many of his most famous pics.

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