In most developed countries, people are permitted to share their music and movies on cloud services. However, this is not the case in Japan; rather, service providers are at risk of being sued for copyright infringement. Jo Ichikawa, a lawyer from Southern Toranomon Law Office, recently shared his thoughts pertaining to copyright issues in the cloud era.
Cloud services provide the base on which users share, upload, and access data or content anywhere, anytime. As a result, these services also enable users to replicate or transfer information. Users of these services are more or less inclined to give permission to another user to copy or send their information, but whenever this information includes information attained from third-party members, a problem arises. Not only are those that copied or transferred information subject to copyright infringement acts, but also the those that originally provided these services are, too.
As an example, there was the “MYUTA” Service incident in 2006. The MYUTA service was something similar to Amazon Cloud Player, in which users could freely upload their music files to their servers and access them from their cellphones through uniquely-generated access keys.
However, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) complained to the courts that the MYUTA service “was operating without copyright holders permission in the process of duplication and public transfer.” MYUTA argued that JASRAC’s claim that copying of personally owned files to a cloud service violated copyright was “overreach.” The court dismissed MYUTA’s position, reasoning that since MYUTA provided its users with an application to upload the files to the service it was facilitating “copyright infringement.”
In Japan, technology is moving ahead of copyright law. There exists no“fair use” policy nor even something equivalent to DMCA in the United States. This is becoming a real obstacle to outsourcing Japanese entertainment abroad and to bringing in content from outside Japan.
Current efforts to revise the copyright law to permit cloud storage of music and other content have not been successful due to resistance from JASRAC and other copyright holding groups. The result is that the online content industry in Japan has been slow to develop.