This article discusses and evaluates the legislative and judicial developments after the enactment of the Copyright Law which apply to computer programs and other computer-related technology. It examines: (1) the 1985 amendment to the Copyright Law enacted to protect computer programs, including the history of discussions by government agencies and judicial determinations that led to the amendment; (2) the 1986 Program Registration Law which supplements the existing provisions of the Copyright Law concerning registration; (3) the protection of databases under a new amendment to the Copyright Law; (4) the regulation of software rental business by the establishment of a public lending right in the 1984 amendment to the Copyright Law; and (5) the possibility of broader protection for video game manufacturers through copyright as cinematographic works. Several court decisions demonstrate the ability of the pre-amendment copyright law to protect computer programs against unauthorized reproduction. In the face of fast-moving technology and hot debate, however, legislative action was appropriate to remove confusion. The recent amendment concerning databases also extends the protection of computer-related technology, but a gap in the law still exists since Japanese society lacks effective trade secret protection. The present Copyright Law is flexible enough to cope with various computer-related problems, but continuous efforts should be made, at the judicial or legislative level, to clarify the extent of copyright protection or control.
Computer Technology and Copyright- A Review of Legislative and Judicial Developments in Japan,
Mich. J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjil/vol8/iss1/1