Article

Copyright and Comics in Japan: Does Law Explain Why All the Cartoons My Kid Watches are Japanese Imports?

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Abstract

The growth and development of a major Japanese export - comics and related products, including animated cartoons and so-called "character goods" such as trading cards, lunchboxes, etc. - has occurred simultaneously with the development of very large, openly-held markets for what would appear to be books and products that infringe copyrightholders' interest in these well-known characters. While many infringers are judgment-proof small timers, those who operate the markets and bookstores that trade these wares are often for-profit and even publicly-traded corporations. Although actions for both infringement and contributory infringement are clearly winnable under existing Japanese law, up until now they have been rare. It appears that for a variety of reasons - such as reputational consequences and relatively low (reasonable royalty) damage awards - it is not economically rational to bring these suits. Interestingly, many observers believe that the vibrancy of these markets for infringement has created numerous innovations and fostered the emergence of talented artists who have benefitted the industry as a whole. The relatively weak legal regime in Japan, noted widely elsewhere, appears to have by chance solved a collective action problem and prevented the interests of a few copyrightholders from inhibiting the growth and development of the industry as a whole.

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... 3. Examination of the significance of doujinshi from a gender theory perspective (Bollmann, 2010;Chen, 2007;Chou, 2010;Orbaugh, 2003). 4. Examination of copyrights that impact Japanese doujinshi (He, 2014;Lee, 2009;Lessig, 2004;Mehra, 2002). The major studies in each of these areas are introduced below. ...
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Thesis
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Uproar Over 'The Lion King'—Disney Film Similar to Work from Japan, The San Francisco Chronicle
  • C See
  • Burress
See C. Burress, " Uproar Over 'The Lion King'—Disney Film Similar to Work from Japan, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 1994, A1. Of course, both bear more than a little resemblance to Shakespeare's Hamlet.
43 And in Japan as well, the importance of manga and anime
  • American
American cartoon " revival. " 43 And in Japan as well, the importance of manga and anime June 14, 2002) (describing the manner in which the works of Tezuka were found, licensed and reworked for the NBC Television in the U.S.).
Toon in Tomorrow; Japanimation (describing " exponential " growth, though from a small base number, of American imports of Japanese animation, beginning with works including Osamu Tezuka's " Astro Boy " )
  • See J Considine
See J. Considine, " Toon in Tomorrow; Japanimation, " Baltimore Sun, 1H, Apr. 14, 1986 (describing " exponential " growth, though from a small base number, of American imports of Japanese animation, beginning with works including Osamu Tezuka's " Astro Boy " ).
  • In Shiraishi
  • J Illustrating Asia
  • Ed Lent
Shiraishi, in Illustrating Asia, J. Lent, Ed. (Honolulu: U. of Hawaii, 2001), at 298.
  • See Shimizu
Japanese comic books are also catching on here, with two sellers, Viz Communications and Dark Horse Comics, controlling 17% of the $500 million
  • B Fulford
noting signficant changes made to World War II film because "Japan traditionally account[s] for 25 to 30 percent
  • See D Paiva
nihonjin ha z?z?ryoku yutaka na minzoku de aru") (arguing that Japanese ability to create interesting manga springs from a native Japanese creativity, according to the creater of "Space Cruiser Yamato" a Japanese animated cartoon that was televised as
  • See R Matsumoto
) (author of Dreamland Japan setting forth these ideas in an interview with an American university professor)
  • M Furniss
  • See Schodt
American children's disposable income
  • Id
Free as the Air to Common Use: First Amendment Constraints on the Enclosure of the Public Domain
  • Y See
At least one commentator has suggested that technology may alter this rationale for copyright protection
  • R Ku