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Supreme Court OKs secondhand game software sales.

TOKYO, April 25 Kyodo

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sales of secondhand game software for home use do not violate copyright laws, in the first judgment in Japan on the sales of secondhand game software.

In handing down the ruling on two similar suits, Presiding Judge Kazutomo Ijima said the producer of game software has the same distribution rights as movie producers, but loses such rights once the product is sold legitimately, as it is not intended for mass viewing as in the case of movies.

The ruling at the top court's first petty bench, delivered without hearing oral arguments, will be final, as appeals against Supreme Court rulings reached without oral arguments are automatically dismissed.

But challenges still remain, as critics point out that the current copyright laws are insufficient and that there is need for measures to return profits from secondhand sales to the producer.

One of the two suits was filed by a secondhand goods sales firm in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, against a game software maker in Tokyo, in which it claimed the maker does not have the right to force the firm to stop selling the game software. The maker alleged the resale of its software constituted copyright infringements.

The Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the sales firm. The game software maker appealed the ruling, but it was upheld by the Tokyo High Court.

Citing the example of movie distribution, the high court ruling said, ''The producer of game software is not allowed to freely decide how to distribute it, as it is not made for mass display.''

The other suit was filed by six game software makers, in which they asked the court to suspend the sales activities of a secondhand goods retailer in the city of Okayama in the western Japan prefecture of Okayama.

The Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the six game software makers, but the Osaka High Court overturned the lower court decision, saying the producer's right to decide how to distribute the products is void once they have been sold.
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Comment:Supreme Court OKs secondhand game software sales.
Publication:Japan Computer Industry Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Apr 29, 2002
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