Japan adds 20 years to film copyrights

Studios pushed for extention to help fight violations

TOKYO — After more than 10 years of lobbying, Japan’s Parliament has extended the copyright for films and animated features from 50 to 70 years after first release.

All of Japan’s major studios, including Toho, Toei and Shochiku, as well as the Motion Picture Producers Assn. of Japan, pushed for the revision, which comes into force in January.

The new law also makes it simpler for companies to seek legal redress against copyright violation. Educational institutions will be allowed to use copyrighted materials without copyright holders’ approval.

One moving force behind the law was the concern of local film studios that copyrights to internationally acclaimed films by past masters such as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu would be lost in the coming years, as many of these were released in the 1950s and 1960s. This in turn would have strangled a blossoming DVD market in classic pics.

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