From a single piece of handcrafted manga to an entire musical album, copyright law offers protection to all creators.
At least that’s the basic theory behind creators’ rights. The reality can be a somewhat less comforting and at times entirely more confusing experience.
Smaller Copyright Holders, Fewer Options
The truth is that the ability to act against infringers is often linked to a copyright holder’s resources. If hiring a lawyer isn’t a problem, most smaller disputes can be handled relatively quickly. Those with free time may be able to handle simple matters independently, but since copyright law is complex, even larger rightsholders will seek help at some point.
Through a new initiative launched this week, the Japanese government is offering free legal assistance to rightsholders who wish to protect their content from copyright infringement, especially when that infringement takes place overseas.
Portal For Copyright Infringment Countermeasures
The service enhances a project operated by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. The agency launched a new portal in June, which explains the basics of copyright law and enables those without experience to send takedown notices.
This week the Agency for Cultural Affairs expanded its support for local rightsholders with the launch of a new service to help those who have visited the portal, absorbed all of the available knowledge, but still require further assistance.
Anti-Piracy Consultation Desk
In recent years there has been a realization in Japan that overseas piracy represents a growing threat to local copyright holders. The Ministry for Cultural Affairs published a report in March detailing responses to cross-border piracy, including the establishment of a new consultation desk to assist rightsholders.
“The Consultation Desk accepts consultations regarding infringement of copyrights, etc. from rightsholders. Consultation is accepted from the consultation reception form on the portal site,” the official announcement reads.
“In principle, responses will be made by e-mail, and depending on the case, it is assumed that a free individual interview with an attorney will be held online or otherwise.”
Given that legal costs in copyright matters can be substantial, the provision of a free service will be appreciated by rightsholders, especially the smaller ones with fewer resources. Those who make use of the service will gain access to a network of 1,000 lawyers, including copyright specialists with experience of fighting piracy in Asia, North America and the EU.