FAQ about Copyright System of Japan

What is a “work” protected by copyrights?

In the Copyright Act of Japan, a "work" means a production in which thoughts or sentiments are creatively expressed and which falls within the literary, academic, artistic, or musical domain.
The following are the examples of “works” protected by copyrights in Japan:
-novels, scenarios (scripts), articles (dissertations), lectures, and other literary works;
-musical works;
-choreographic works and pantomime;
-paintings, engravings (woodblock prints), sculptures, and other artistic works;
-architectural works;
-maps and other diagrammatic works of academic nature, such as plans, charts, and models;
-cinematographic works;
-photographic works; and
-computer program works.
“Artistic works” mentioned above include a work of artistic craftsmanship.
Under the Copyright Act of Japan t
he following works cannot enjoy copyright protection:
-the Constitution and other laws and regulations;
-public notices, instructions, circular notices and the like issued by organs of the State or local public entities, etc.;
-judgments, decisions, orders and decrees of courts, and determinations and decisions made by administrative agencies in proceedings of a quasi-judicial nature; and
-translations and compilations of the above-mentioned, which are prepared by organs of the State or local public entities, etc.

[Q] How is the copyright different from the patent right?
[A] The copyright protects a work, that is, original expression of thoughts or sentiments, while the patent right protects invention of novelty, that is, (creation of) technical ideas utilizing the law of nature.  Ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something are not protected by copyright law.

[Q] To what extent must a work have originality?
[A] The originality (creativity) to be required for copyright protection is not so high; novelty, artistic merit or the like is not needed.  As a general rule, a work is original (creative) enough to be copyrighted if it reflects the personality of its author.

[Q] Is a title of a book, music, movie or painting protected by copyright?
[A] In most cases, the title of a book, etc. is not protected by copyright.  However an author has the right to maintain the integrity of the title of his/her work.

[Q] Is a slogan protected by copyright law?
[A] Yes and no; depending on whether or not the slogan is deemed as an original expression of thoughts or sentiments.

[Q] For copyright protection, is the fixation of expression in some material form needed?
[A] Under the Copyright Act of Japan, the fixation requirement is not needed in principle, but as to a cinematographic work, fixing it in an object is required for copyright protection.

     Kaneda Copyright Agency
     For proper copyright management in Japan

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