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A trap of an assignment of copyright under the Japanese Copyright Act

If you're interested in acquiring the rights to a work, such as animation, music, or software, from a Japanese artist or company, you may be asked to sign a copyright assignment agreement. However, there's a trap you should be aware of before signing.

You may come across a clause that states "Copyright of the Work is hereby assigned from XXX to You." This may seem reasonable and suggest that you have all the rights to the work. However, this clause does not necessarily mean a complete transfer of the copyright of the work.

Under the Japanese Copyright Act, if a copyright transfer agreement does not explicitly refer to certain rights, such as translation or adaptation rights, these rights are presumed to be retained by the original copyright holder. This means that if you sign an agreement without specifying all the relevant rights, you may not have the freedom to modify or adapt the work as you wish.

To avoid this issue, it's important to include a clause that explicitly states that you are being assigned the copyright of the work, including all the rights specified in Articles 27 and 28 of the Japanese Copyright Act. This will ensure that you have complete control over the work and can modify or adapt it as needed.

It's worth noting that some agreements written by lawyers may not include this specific language, so it's always a good idea to consult with lawyers familiar with intellectual property laws before signing any agreements.

If you need assistance with navigating intellectual property laws in Japan, feel free to contact us at We specialize in this area and would be happy to help.



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