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Toho sues company selling AK DVDs

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    Hello. I found this news item today.

    Movie studio files lawsuit against company selling Akira Kurosawa DVDs

    Major movie studio Toho Co. has filed a lawsuit against a company selling DVD versions of eight films directed by the late Akira Kurosawa, accusing the company of violating copyright laws.

    In the Tokyo District Court lawsuit, Toho is demanding that the Tokyo-based firm stop selling the films, which include titles such as Sanshiro Sugata (1943) and Ikiru (1952).

    Toho said that its eight films were released under Japan’s old Copyright Law, which states that the copyright on works continues for 38 years after the death of the author. Since Kurosawa died in 1998, the firm said that its copyright on the works was valid until the end of 2036.

    An official from Cosmo Contents, the company selling the films, declined to comment, saying the person in charge was not available. (Mainichi)




    I can across this issue when researching about the possibility of allowing downloads of Kurosawa’s older films from this site. The link is what started the research


    There appears to be loopholes and vagueness in the law, what is actually allowed and legal, I have yet to completely confirm. I suppose this case could help determine that.

    The new copyright law made in 1999 for Japan and modified again in 2001, I believe would allow for this, as long as they can prove the price is to cover the work of putting them on DVDs and not to profit off the films. I have yet to actually confirm this to be true, but Japan promotes distribution of copyright free works. They still allow the owner of the works, this case Toho to make final call, so its a bit of a hit to the hopes of such a project on this site.


    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the link, deconstruct!

    It will be very interesting to see how this case develops.



    Hello. I saw this followup in Variety. The photo is AK’s son, isn’t it?

    Kurosawa films center of suit

    Toho targets DVD sales company

    TOKYO — Toho filed suit in Tokyo District Court on Monday against a DVD sales company for copyright violations on eight Akira Kurosawa pics, including the classics “Ikiru” and “Sugata Sanshiro.”

    Toho, the studio where the helmer spent some of the most productive years of his career until his death in 1998, is suing Tokyo-based Cosmo Contents, which has been selling DVD knockoffs of Kurosawa films for ¥1,000 ($8.54) per copy vs. Toho’s own list price of $51.28.

    Based on its losses so far, Toho is estimating the damage at $128,205.

    Before 1971, Japan’s copyright law protected pics for 38 years after the creator’s death. In 1971, the law was revised to protect film copyrights for 50 years after release.

    Toho is claiming that, since the eight pics in question were released before 1971, the old law should apply, meaning that their copyright extends to 2036 — 38 years after Kurosawa’s death.

    Cosmo Contents claims the post-1971 law gives it the right to distribute the films, all of which were released more than 50 years ago.




    A bit of a mistake, thats for sure not Akria. He had one son (and one daughter) but his name is Hisao.

    Am sure its Hisao Kurosawa in the picture and not AK as stated. I think Hisao runs the AK film school now.


    Vili Maunula

    They seem to have changed the image, by the way. 🙂

    Thanks again for the heads-up, deconstruct! As I have no Internet connection apart from my work place, updating the website is lagging behind a bit at the moment.

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