On February 23, 2018, the Cabinet approved and submitted to the Diet a bill to partially amend the Copyright Act ("Copyright Act Amendment Bill"). With the continued advance of information and communication technologies, the Copyright Act Amendment Bill is intended to expand the scope of free use of copyrighted works without the copyright owner's permission. Unlike the concept of fair use in the United States, Japan's Copyright Act sets out an exclusive list of situations in which third parties may freely use copyrighted works without obtaining the copyright owner's permission. The Copyright Act Amendment Bill will expand the scope of such situations.
Of particular note are the following provisions included in the Copyright Act Amendment Bill, which are intended to promote industries in the information technology sector.
1. A provision allowing copyrighted works to be used without permission, where such use is in relation to big data services, etc., that will not adversely affect the market for the copyrighted works. This would apply in cases where the expression of the copyrighted work is not perceived by the user, even though the work is copied onto a computer, such as a book search service where the search result displays only a portion of the book.
2. A provision that would permit certain defined uses of copyrighted works without permission, since the advance of information technology may bring new ways to promote the utilization of copyrighted works in the future. The provision is intended to promote innovation by adopting a concept similar to "fair use," allowing for the flexible recognition of future uses of copyrighted works without requiring further revisions to the law.
The Copyright Act Amendment Bill (excluding certain provisions) is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2019. The enactment of the Copyright Act Amendment Bill is expected to accelerate advanced technological development in fields such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.