Japan Copyright Office on AI and Copyright

May 27, 2024

The Japan Copyright Office, part of the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, has published ‘General Understanding on AI and Copyright in Japan: Overview’ (May 2024).

The document is available here, and there is a link to it from the webpage for the Copyright Subdivision of the Culture Council of the Agency for Cultural Affairs here. It has been published by the Legal System Subcommittee, which consists of ‘law scholars, lawyers, judges and other experts with knowledge of copyright law and other intellectual property laws’.

Among other things, the document covers the provisos to Article 30-4 of the Japanese Copyright Act. Article 30-4, introduced in 2018, can allow the use of third party content in connection with AI development in some cases.

Article 30-4 does not apply if a use is ‘for enjoyment of the thoughts or sentiments expressed in the copyrighted work’. The document gives examples of when the ‘non-enjoyment’ requirement is not met:

  • ‘The collection of works for AI training to generate materials similar to copyrighted works within the collected works’.
  • ‘The collection of works as input data to generative AI for implementation of retrieval augmented generation (RAG)’.

Article 30-4 also does not apply in ‘cases that would unreasonably prejudice the interests of the copyright holder.’ The document gives the example of ‘reproducing a copyrighted database work for the purpose of data analysis, such as AI training for which licenses for data analysis are available in the marketplace’. This includes data that the rightsholder has sought to prevent from being used for AI training via technological measures.