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TPP Copyright Laws Come Into Effect in Japan, Allows Breaches to Be Charged Without Initiation From Rights Holder

posted on by Kim Morrissy

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)'s revised copyright laws came into effect in Japan on December 31. The laws have also been changed to allow copyright breaches to be prosecuted without a complaint from the rights holder. Previously, the rights holder would have been required to file the copyright breach before legal action could be taken. The revision was made as part of an ongoing effort to combat piracy.

The law revisions also include an extension of copyright duration from 50 years to 70 years after the death of the rights holder for all works, a duration which previously only applied to cinematographic works. These measures were taken to bring Japan in line with the other countries participating in the TPP.

Although the developments may sound intimidating for anime fans, Negima and UQ Holder! manga artist Ken Akamatsu assured doujinshi creators on Twitter that this won't affect how Comiket operates. "The doujinshi at Comiket are exempt due to a compromise worked out between the government and those involved. For doujin creators to be charged, the rights holder will still need to file a complaint first. So you can keep doing what you do. (But if the rights holder says it's not okay, then it's not okay.)"

Akamatsu also clarified what kinds of Gridman fan works are allowed to be sold after doujinshi retailer Melon Books pulled all SSSS.Gridman works from their stock. "It's okay to distribute them at Comiket, but they can't be sold at doujinshi stores. They can tolerate fan activity as long as it's restricted to a few days (i.e. Comiket), but they believe that unrestricted sales through stores is a cause for bother. You must follow those guidelines. (In fact, the doujin mark follows this format, too.)"

The SSSS.Gridman anime website posted official guidelines for fan works in November last year, stating that "any doujinshi that is deemed to exceed the category of fan activities, such as production and distribution for commercial purposes, may have its sales suspended."

Akamatsu has previously spoken out against the TPP's proposed changes to Japan's copyright laws out of concern that this would have a detrimental effect on Japanese otaku culture. As a means of protecting fan activities in a post-TPP legal environment, he supported the "doujin mark" initiative developed by Creative Commons Japan, which allows an author to express direct permission to fans to create doujinshi based on their work to sell at limited-time events like Comiket.

Source: Agency for Cultural Affairs (Government of Japan) Official website and Ken Akamatsu's Twitter account via Hachima Kikō

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