Akasaka International Law, Patent & Accounting Office.

Copyright: Locating the Owner

Aug 05, 2014

Finding a Copyright Owner

Most people will agree that recognizing the copyright ownership of an author, artist, creator or performer is important. In essence, the owner of a copyright, usually the person who creates the work, should have the right to protect their authorship (or other) of that work – by restricting and receiving payment for, its replication or modification.

However, even the most well-intentioned person may have difficulty in giving a copyright owner that which is due to them. Many such people find themselves in a situation where they would like to use a copyrighted work, but they cannot locate the owner to whom they might make an inquiry and ultimately, payment.

Reasonable efforts

In Japan, in accordance with Article 67 of the Copyright Act, if you take “reasonable efforts” to locate the owner but fail, you can use a copyrighted work after payment of a fee to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Essentially, “reasonable efforts” are said to have been made if a person completes six specified steps as follows:

  1. Reviewing a list etc. of copyright owners’ names and addresses,
  2. Searching for information via the internet,
  3. Searching for information via associations which manage copyrighted works such as Jasrac,
  4. Searching for information from sellers etc. of similar works,
  5. Searching for information from copyright associations in the same field as the works in question, and
  6. Searching for other information either by advertising via daily newspaper etc. or for 30 days on the Copy Research and Information Center website.

The Agency for Cultural Affairs is considering a change to make this process simpler than before. The likely change, if adopted, would result in the above six requirements being reduced in the following ways:

  • A person would be able to choose to do either 1. or 2. above,
  • The requirement in 4. would be removed, and
  • The requirement to advertise on the Copy Research and Information Center website in 6. above would be reduced to seven (7) days.

These proposed changes are not yet in effect, but have been published for public comment.

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