"Film quote" loses

Aaron Gerow gerow at ynu.ac.jp
Thu Nov 8 21:16:34 EST 2001

In what might become a legal precedent regarding the practice of 
publishing frames captured from a film, a Tokyo court ordered Kodansha 
Publishing to pay 5,600,000 yen to the producers of the film _Ichigensan_ 
for violating copyright laws. The Kodansha magazine _Shukan Gendai_ 
published frames of the actress Suzuki Honami naked taken from the film 
(apparently taken during a screening at the Kyoto Film Festival) without 
obtaining permission from the producers.  The judge ruled that these 
images "were published with the intention of stimulating the sexual 
curiosity of the readers and heightening their desire to buy, and thus 
cannot be considered a legitimate journalistic activity." 

The judge's reasoning seems to imply that reproducing such still images 
with a "legitimate" journalistic or academic intent is still permitted 
under fair use guidelines.  The ruling, however, does create a precedent 
about what is "illegitimate" that may cause problems for those publishing 
captures frames from a film or video.

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
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