To receive the protection of copyright law in Japan, an object must contain the “thoughts or sentiments” of its creator. While this sounds like a very deep and existential question it is broadly interpreted to mean some indication of human mental activity. This means that natural objects or art created by animals cannot be copyrighted.
In addition, factual data, such as the height of Mt. Fuji or the temperature of a cold winter day, cannot be protected under intellectual property law. One exception to this general rule is that news stories reporting on facts can be copyrighted because they contain the author’s artistic expression in choice of words and style. Written contracts, on the other hand, cannot generally be protected with a copyright because they do not express the “thoughts or sentiments” of the creator.
If you have a question about whether something can be protected under Japan’s intellectual property laws, please contact our office for a legal consultation.