56 Rutgers L. Rev. 181 (2003-2004)
Coypright, Control, and Comics: Japanese Battles over Downstream Limits on Content

handle is hein.journals/rutlr56 and id is 193 raw text is: COPYRIGHT, CONTROL, AND COMICS: JAPANESE BATTLES
Salil K Mehra*
Over the past decade, a national battle has raged over how
much downstream control copyright holders should have over
their products once they are sold to distributors, retailers and
consumers. By and large, consumers seem to have won this
battle  as  legal change     and   business  innovation   eroded
downstream limits. Copyright holders have been unsuccessful in
their attempts to roll back this erosion, and indeed have been
further hampered by judges and antitrust enforcers who have
bolstered the trend.
This nation is not the United States; it is Japan. Despite
strenuous objections by authors and publishers, the expansion of
what Japanese consumers can do with the copyrighted comics
they buy threatens to reshape the $5 billion domestic industry.
For Americans, the Japanese experience is instructive in several
ways. Unlike the American       debate regarding     downstream
controls, the Japanese battle has not involved actual or alleged
illicit copying. Instead, it appears that their benefits from price
discrimination are motivating authors and the publishing
industry. Additionally, a change in transaction costs made
possible by business innovation appears to have undercut the
ability of publishers to tailor prices. Also of significant interest,
the erosion in downstream control has coincided with stunning
growth of the Japanese comic medium as a worldwide export, a
notable contradiction to the common assertion of the U.S.
copyright industry that stronger copyright protection must
necessarily yield more creativity.
* Associate Professor, Temple University, Beasley School of Law. This article
benefited from comments received at a May 2003 conference at Harvard Law School
and Fall 2003 presentations at Harvard, the University of Chicago Law School, and
the Dickinson School of Law. Thanks to Etsuo Doi, Teruo Doi, Eric Feldman, Yuichiro
Ishji, Ryu Kojima, Mitsuo Matsushita, Kenneth Port, Mark Ramseyer, and Tsugue
Sano for their comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Sarah Beth Mehra for her
editing skills and loving support. All errors and omissions are the author's, and all
Japanese sources have been translated and verified by the author. Thanks to the
Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies for financial assistance
with this research.

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