The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency intends to require major book-lenders to pay copyright royalties to novelists, cartoonists and other holders of copyrights. The plan is part of an effort to address growing concerns that an increase in the number of major chains entering the book-lending business could violate cartoonists and authors’ copyrights.
For years, shops renting out books, magazines and other publications have been exempted from the law governing payment of copyright royalties. The Agency plans to submit a bill to revise the Copyright Law to the next ordinary session of the Japanese Diet.
Under the proposed bill, major book-lenders will be obliged to pay royalties to copyright holders, such as novelists and cartoonists, starting in 2005 at the earliest.
Copyright holders have the right to restrict the lending of copyrighted material under existing Copyright Law. With videos of Japanese movies, video rental shop operators buy the videos for three to four times the market price to cover the cost of copyright royalties paid to film companies and scriptwriters. In the case of music compact discs, composers, performers and music production companies have the right to lend out the copyrighted material on the CDs. According to the Agency, CD rental stores pay about 10 billion yen a year in royalties to copyright holders. But authors of books and magazines have been denied lending rights in light of the fact that small book rental stores have contributed to the development of the nation’s publishing industry.
However, large-scale book rental chains began entering the book-lending industry this year, in combination with major video and CDs rental chains. The right to lend copyrighted material was established under the Copyright Law in 1984, when the number of record rental stores nationwide grew to 2,000, so that profits from the rental industry would be distributed to copyright holders, as well as lenders.
An additional clause stipulates that books and magazines be exempted from this rule. The agency plans to abolish this additional clause when the law is revised.