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09 November 2010
On September 10 2010 the Tokyo District Court held that a co-author of an original work may, at his or her own discretion, refuse to consent to exploitation of a derivative work, even if the derivative work was created with the co-author's consent.
Many copyrighted works are created by contributions from more than one author. Such works include derivative works and jointly authored works. Under the Copyright Law, the author of an original work has the power to approve or refuse, at his or her sole discretion, exploitation of a derivative work, even if the derivative work was created with the consent of the author of the original work. One of the authors of a jointly authored work also has the power to approve or refuse exploitation of the jointly authored work. However, in the case of a joint author, there must be reasonable grounds if the joint author refuses exploitation proposed by another joint author.
In this case a dispute arose between a scenario writer and an original author regarding the publication of a scenario, to which the original author refused to give consent. The scenario writer argued that it is unreasonable to differentiate between the rights of an original author and those of a joint author under the Copyright Law, and that even an original author needs reasonable grounds for refusing to consent to the exploitation of a derivative work which was created with the permission of the original author. However, the court rejected this argument, holding that the distinction between the rights of an original author and those of a joint author under the Copyright Law is reasonable, because joint owners have a much closer relationship with each other than an original author and the author of a derivative work.
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