Actors and Estates/contact information?

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow at
Wed Mar 10 19:29:52 EST 2010


This is a difficult problem, one we did not specifically address in  
our book. In any photograph, the photographer does have copyright  
(with stills, that is technically owned by the company). So I would  
first try to determine the photographer. If these are bromides, for  
instance, they might have the bromide company printed on them  
somewhere. (Most, however, are out of business.)

If you cannot determine the photographer, the question then revolves  
around the possibility of rights concerning the actor's own image  
(shozoken), person (jinkakuken), and property (zaisanken). I am no  
lawyer, but from my understanding, the first is not actually strictly  
written in law in Japan and is mostly a matter of custom. And it is  
usually considered irrelevant in the case of photographs that were  
originally intended to be widely distributed. The problem is whether  
one could be violating the actor's right of person (but that is only  
really an issue if you intend to alter the photographs) or their  
property (the money they could make from selling their image--but that  
is not really relevant with much academic publishing).

The Japanese Wikipedia article on this is actually not that bad:

Personally, given all these problems, I would just go ahead and  
publish them if you can justify them as quotations (i.e., if they are  
not just illustrations of the actor you mention, but are actually the  
subject of what you discuss). If your publisher insists on you at  
least making an effort, I would go to old copies of Eiga nenkan to  
find the home addresses of these actors (it has actually only been in  
the last few decades that Eiga nenkan has stopped publishing those).  
Since people in Japan move less than in other countries, there is a  
decent chance the family of the actor is still at the address.

Aaron Gerow
Associate 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

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