(Dead) actors revival

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow
Tue Aug 24 14:06:23 EDT 2004

Thanks for the account of your experiences, Mark. It is true that some 
publishers outside Japan are getting very careful about this, but still 
many are not.

As I have said on this list many times, however, I am sure that under 
the definition of quotation given by Japanese court precedent (the 
Sensoron case in particular), frame grabs can be published without 
permission. Stills are another matter, because they are a single, 
copyrighted entity. The problem that this trend has raised in an issue 
apart from copyright, that of the "personal rights" of the performer 
(shozoken). While I fear the worst, I do wonder how much we really need 
to worry about that for several reasons:

1) Will the performers really ever notice an obscure academic book?
2) Will they care enough to do something about it?
3) Will a challenge really succeed in court?

I have not really heard of many cases involving frame grabs (stills and 
portraits are another matter). The only case I really recall is when a 
shukanshi was challenged by the producers of Ichigensan for publishing 
frame grabs of Suzuki Honami nude. They only really cared because of 
the nudity issue and because this was a mass commercial publication. So 
unless you do a bad job with the frame grab and really distort or make 
the performer's face look horrid, I doubt many would challenge you. And 
even if a court case developed involving shozoken, one wonders if it 
would win given the established rights over fair use.

I should also note that some Japanese film scholars I know are starting 
to get mad about the restrictions being imposed on them by excessive 
interpretations of copyright and other property rights. Iwamoto Kenji, 
the president of the Japan Society of Image Arts and Sciences, will 
have an opinion piece in the next bulletin of the society asserting 
scholarly rights, and I hope more pressure can be placed on companies 
by scholars, perhaps via institutions like universities or the Agency 
for Cultural Affairs.

Any thoughts?

Aaron Gerow
KineJapan owner

Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University

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