1. Factual background
In recent years, many people have become accustomed to reading or browsing electronic books and web pages on their mobile terminal such as a smartphone and a tablet PC in Japan. With the rapid spread of such mobile terminals, book scanning gradually becomes popular among users of mobile terminals. The act of book scanning involves a sequence of operations which users convert paper media such as physical books or magazines into digital media such as images or electronic books by using an image scanner in order to read or browse them on their mobile terminal. In Japan, the book scanning is usually called “Jisui”, a net slang in Japanese, which originally refers to cooking their own meal at home.
As prescribed in Article 30, Paragraph 1 of the Copyright Act in Japan, it shall be permissible for the user of a work that is the subject of a copyright (hereinafter referred to as a “work”) to reproduce the work for his/her personal use or family use or other equivalent uses within a limited scope (hereinafter referred to as “private use”). Thus, in accordance with the above article, book scanning such that a person scans his/her own books by an image scanner and creates digital copies for their personal use is legally allowed because it is regarded as “reproducing the work for private use”.
However, it was controversial whether book scanning carried out by people other than a book owner and his/her family on behalf of a book owner should be legally allowable or not. Since around 2011, major publishers and authors, such as novelists and cartoonists, have disagreed with an agency’s act such that an agency (hereinafter referred to as a “book scanning agency”) provides a service for book scanning (hereinafter referred to as a “book scanning service”) which comprises a step of creating a copy of paper media. They sent letters of warning to most major book scanning agencies which provide a book scanning service without approval of copyright holders. For those agencies who were continuing to scan books against the warning, they further filed some separate suits in Tokyo District Court for an injunction.
2. Tokyo District Court Ruling on the Book Scanning Service
Tokyo District Court issued a first judicial ruling for the book scanning service on September 30th, 2013. According to the ruling, the plaintiff’s demand for an injunction on the book scanning service against the defendants (two book scanning agencies and their representatives) was accepted. The court further issued a second ruling for the book scanning service in another case which is independent from the above case on October 30th, 2013. We here introduce the first ruling only as the second case is substantially the same as the first one. (Refer to Heisei 24 (wa) No.33525 “Case of Demand for Injunction and Damage Compensation”)
2.1 Points in Dispute
In this case, the main issue is whether the right to seek an injunction, which is prescribed in Article 112, Paragraph 1 of the Copyright Act in Japan, against two book scanning agencies and their representatives is allowable or not. Especially the following points were disputed in order to judge the main issue.
2.2 Judgments of the Court
(1) Regarding the first point
(2) Regarding the second point
3. Future Trends on the Book Scanning Service
In response to the above judicial ruling that the book scanning service is an infringement on the copyright, the number of the book scanning agencies which provide a book scanning service without approval of copyright holders has greatly decreased.
In the future, it will be imperative to make rules on obtaining permissions from copyright holders and returning part of the profits from book scanning service to copyright holders in order to provide the book scanning service legally.
Many copyright holders such as writers and publishers already established a liaison committee on March 2013 in order to prepare for a public discussion on such rules as above. Discussions at the liaison committee are expected to move forward rapidly in accordance with the certain standard judgments with regard to the book scanning service, which were obtained from the court. We would like to keep a close watch on future discussions at the committee.