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Reforming Japanese Copyright and Content Distribution Laws: The Commodification of ‘Cool Japan’?

16 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011 Last revised: 29 Oct 2013

Souichirou Kozuka

Gakushuin University

Date Written: October 28, 2013


In 2006-2007, a few proposals were made in Japan for the reform of copyright regime. These proposals had a common aim of promoting the distribution of digitised works and facilitating the entertainment industry. The agenda was very unique to Japan, as most other countries were more concerned about the protection and enforcement of copyright in the digital environment (whether good or bad) than the promoted distribution of copyrighted works. After several years, however, the reform failed and the proposals are almost abandoned. Looking back, it appears that the true problems that hindered the distribution of digitalised works were the structure of the industry, such as the absence of new entrants to the distribution channel and the poor working conditions of the creators. The proposals could have had an impact to cure these problems by changing the industry structure, but was protested by the creators, who wished to retain the levy system that they were familiar with. Neither the consumers supported the reform, as they preferred to enjoy the free services on the Internet, whether they were legal or not. Finally, the government gradually turned its policy from the competition-oriented to protective one in late 2000's. It was because of these backgrounds that the reform proposals were finally abandoned. (This version is an update of the previous version with the developments in the last few years.)

Keywords: copyright, intellectual property, media law, industrial policy, Japan

JEL Classification: K29, L52, L82, O34

Suggested Citation

Kozuka, Souichirou, Reforming Japanese Copyright and Content Distribution Laws: The Commodification of ‘Cool Japan’? (October 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Souichirou Kozuka (Contact Author)

Gakushuin University ( email )

1-5-1 Mejiro
Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-8588

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