FAQ about Copyright System of Japan

Who is the author of a work?

An ‘author’ under the Copyright Act of Japan means a person who creates a work. Copyrights (including moral rights), in principle, vest initially in the author of a work.

The person who creates a work is a human being and so the author of a work is by nature a natural person. Consequently, ownership of copyrights is attributable to the natural person initially. This is the principle of copyright protection.
[Note]
With respect to the authorship of a cinematographic work, under the copyright Act of Japan, the author of a cinematographic work is, in principle, the person(s) who, by taking charge of its production, direction, filming, art direction, etc., has(have) creatively contributed to the creation of such a cinematographic work as a whole.

On the other hand, there is a crucial exception to the above-mentioned principle of initial ownership of copyrights.  That is about the authorship of a work made by an employee.  Copyright laws of some countries provide that an employer should own copyright from the outset in cases where an employee creates a work as part of his/her job.  Here in Japan, in the case where all of the following requirements(①~③) are met, the authorship of a work is attributed to a juridical person, etc. unless otherwise stipulated by contract, work regulations or the like at the time of the making of the said work:
 a work being made by an employee in the course of the performance of his/her duties in connection with the juridical person, etc.'s business
 a work being made on the initiative of the juridical person, etc.
 a work being made public by such juridical person, etc. under its own name
[Note]
The above-mentioned ③ is not required with respect to a computer program work.



     Kaneda Copyright Agency
     For proper copyright management in Japan


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