How do you prove copyright infringement in Japan?

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Copyright infringement is when a party other than the copyright owner makes an unauthorized reproduction of the copyright.  While this issue may seem fairly straightforward, it is important for the copyright owner to collect the necessary evidence before pursuing a claim.  The copyright owner should be able to show that the infringing party knew about the copyright, the infringing work is similar and that the infringing party profited from the unauthorized use of the copyright.

The first evidence that a copyright owner must collect is proof that the infringing party knew of the copyright beforehand.  This doesn’t have to be complicated and simple proof that the infringing party had seen the copyright before is usually enough.  However, proving this point is important as the infringing party may argue that they had no knowledge of the copyrighted work and the similarities are a coincidence.  After all, it is impossible in copy something that you have never seen before.

Secondly, the copyright owner must show that the infringing party’s work is similar to the copyright.  Even if a third party bases a work on something that is copyrighted, unless the two works are similar there is no copyright infringement.  This point is usually the most contested part of a copyright infringement action and experts may need to be brought in to show how the two works are similar or dissimilar.

Finally, the owner must show an act of exploitation.  This can include various things such as selling something with the infringing work or presenting it to the public.  If the similar work was  just a private draft that was never sold or shown to anyone else, it would be hard to prove that it was an infringing on the copyright.

If you have a question about copyright infringement, please contact our office for a legal consultation.