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Japanese Public Domain Notice (and other countries)

Possibly public domain in EU and other 70 pma territories.

While works are in public domain of its country of origin (Japan), it is possibly likewise public domain in the UK and EU due to the EU’s implementation of Rule of the Shorter Term for non-EU works. This EU ruling might be superseded by bilateral treaties still in force between some EU countries and countries outside the EU (notably the USA).

Please obey the copyright laws of your country. Studio KonKon does not assume any sort of legal responsibility or liability for the consequences of downloading files that are not in the public domain in your country. Studio KonKon is not a lawyer, information we provide should not be taken too seriously. Please do you own research first or consult a lawyer if unsure.

When we (Studio KonKon) decide to re-score a particular score, we ask our selves some basic questions:

Q: Is the composer and anyone else involved in the work still alive and if not, for how long?

Most countries including the UK and EU have a 70 pma; This is: “has the composer or anyone involved in the work been dead for 70 years or more?” If so, it is in Public Domain in those territories unless copyright has been renewed.

Some countries such as Japan have a 50 pma, which is much shorter. Japan is part of the Berne convention since 1899 meaning copyright law is in sync with most other international regulations. This is to say, if it’s in Public Domain in Japan, then it is also in Public Domain in other territories that follow the ROST (Rule of the Shorter Term).

E.g: Copyright is expired in Japan since the composer died in 1952, however, in the UK and EU, it is not in Public Domain until 2022.

That would have been the case but because of the ROST and the work been in Public Domain in it’s originating country (Japan), it is also in Public Domain in the UK, EU, possibly the USA and many other territories.

Please beware though, some countries laws have a 100pma and many works in the USA have had renewed copyright status preventing works entering Public Domain just yet.

New Japanese Copyright Laws

Copyright of works used to expire 50 years after the author’s death. In 2004, Japan extended the copyright term to 70 years for cinematographic works. On 30th December 2018, the 70 year term was applied to all works.

This may cause problems as many Public Domain works will have re-entered Copyright Status. The exception is, any works that had already entered Public Domain will remain in Public Domain unless the publisher re-publishes the work.

Take note that works published before 1953 are now public domain. Works published in and before 1970 are under Copyright Protection and extended until 38 years after the original copyright holder’s death.

Q: Was the work Published in or before 1923?

In the US, works enter Public Domain regardless of the author’s death. This is worth noting as the US doesn’t generally follow the originating countries copyright laws.

E.g: All works by Gustav Holst is in Public domain since 2004. However, this does not apply to the US. Many of Gustav Holst’s work are still protected by copyright despite Gustav Holst been British and his works are in Public Domain in the UK since 2004.

This causes problems. Even though you may live in a country and be a citizen such as the UK and have never lived or been a citizen of the US, you are still infringing copyright laws of the US. This can be confusing and question why the US would take you to court or sue you for it as it’s Public Domain outside the US.

For this reason, Studio KonKon may upload only very limited content and most likely no score at all due to the selfishness of the US. (I am a British citizen living in the UK where the British composer Holst’s works are Public Domain but is taken down and threatened by the US of infringing copyright.)

This means focusing more on works published before 1923 just to be on the safe side, unfortunately. Also, making sure works were not re-published or renewed after 1923 putting back under renewed Copyright Protection in the US.

It not just us but other organisations having issues too, such the site Unfortunately, I don’t have the means to take issues to court.

Many Public Domain Japanese Folk songs are copyright protected in the US. Where the royalties actually go is unknown. It’s unfair that big companies claim revenue from something that doesn’t belong to them simply because of a its countries copyright law.

Q: Is it an original, first edition or an arrangement?

Here at Studio KonKon, we aim to re-score only original and first editions. Mainly, for copyright reasons. We generally will not re-score any works in Creative Commons unless the author has given us permission. However, we may have still done a few but are subject to change at any time.

Just because something is in Creative Commons doesn’t mean it will always be free to use or legal. The author of a work has the rights to his/her works and can revoke the Creative Commons at any time regardless or what the Creative Commons guidelines state. Read more…

Many works are also illegally or falsely assigned a Creative Commons.

Most arrangements and transcription are either copyright protected or in Creative Commons. They are mostly all published or re-published after 1923 and may be controlled by government, heirs of the author and/or other copyright laws.

Learn More

Document Updated: 2020, August 30th