(Dead) actors revival

Aaron Gerow gerowaaron at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 21 10:19:02 EDT 2004

That's a good question. It has been my understanding that rights of 
publicity (shozoken) are not established under copyright law, but come 
from rights established under the constitution (the right to happiness, 
etc.). Thus while copyright can expire, publicity rights are much more 
vague. In most cases, it seems that the estate of the star manages the 
shozoken after his or her death, and in Matsuda's case, it seems the 
company Office Saku does that (remember that Yusaku's wife and son are 
still active in the geino world). Does anyone know anything more 
specific about this?

I do worry about how sticky this issue can be. While, for instance, I 
think one can with no problem under copyright precedent in Japan use 
DVD frame grabs as quotations in publication, I've had some companies, 
like Office Kitano, argue that, beyond copyright issues, any use of 
such grabs requires the consent of all the actors who appear in the 
frame grab. If that was true, then it would become virtually impossible 
to use frame grabs in publication, especially if the actors are dead. I 
think this is ridiculous, but given the overzealous push for 
intellectual property rights these days, I fear this interpretation may 
pose a real obstacle some day.

Aaron Gerow
Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University
53 Wall Street, Room 316
PO Box 208363
New Haven, CT 06520-8363
Phone: 1-203-432-7082
Fax: 1-203-432-6764
e-mail: aaron.gerow at yale.edu

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