Japanese Court Rules Pre-1953 Movies In Public Domain

A Japanese company that has released at bargain prices DVDs of movie classics produced prior to 1953 may continue to do so, a Japanese court ruled Tuesday. Kyodo News said that the Tokyo District Court rejected a request by Viacom's Paramount Pictures that it order a halt to the sales, ruling that copyrights to the movies had expired and that they were now in the public domain. Paramount had argued that a 2004 law extended the copyrights by 20 years; however, the Japanese court said that the law could not be applied retroactively. The movies in question are being sold by First Trading Corp. in the DVD format for as low as $4.40, while the price for the Paramount-distributed copy of the same movie is about $36.70.



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