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Currently playing at the AK film club: The Ballad of Narayama (Imamura 1983)

Tokyo court decides Kurosawa still under copyright

In April this year Toho launched a lawsuit against Cosmo Contents, which had been selling cheap DVDs of Akira Kurosawa’s early films in Japan under the assumption that they were out of copyright. Tokyo District Court has now decided for the favour of Toho, effectively meaning that Kurosawa’s films will be under copyright in Japan until 2036.

By doing so, the Court has effectively named Kurosawa himself as the original copyright holder for his films, therefore meaning that all copyrights lapse only 38 years after his death.

Daily Yomimuri and Variety both have more details about the decision, as well as its effects on companies producing inexpensive DVDs of film classics.

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