Have you heard of the “moron in a hurry test“? It’s a legal test for trademark infringement. Basically, if you can successfully argue that “only a moron in a hurry” could confuse your product with another, you can get away with slightly ripping off somebody else’s design. But you’d have to be a real dingbat to confuse this gallery of 30 knockoff toys for the real things!
We live in a world of innovation and inspiration. Every day, we see new products riffing on older ones, and apps that are purporting to be the next Instagram for Snapchat inspired by Vine.
But when does something cease to innovate and become a simple knock-off? Would you consider “Word・Press” a different web service from “WordPress”? How about if someone opened up a hamburger joint called “McDonalds” instead of “McDonald’s”? Well one izakaya in Hiroshima, Japan tested out this first example for us, and found that simply slipping a dot into its name didn’t allow it to get around copyright and trademark laws.
Take a quick look at the character-packed image above. That’s a whole lot of faces, right? And in the 20 years since Sony’s first video games console was released, they’ve all appeared on some PlayStation platform or other. Even if you’re more of an Xbox kid or a PC gamer, you have to admit that’s an impressive lineup, and for older PlayStation fans especially it’s bound conjure up a lot of happy gaming memories.
But in creating this image in honour of 20 years of PlayStation, it would seem that someone over at Sony Europe struggled to source one or two character images that really fit in with their vision. You’d think that being on the inside, an artist working for Sony would have access to a whole host of officially licensed images, but it looks like they decided to turn to the internet for help, using an image of Mega Man as he appears only in Nintendo’s latest edition of Super Smash Bros, and even borrowing a piece of fan art created by a Japanese Pixiv user, who later spotted their work on Sony’s official site. Awkward.
People who post game demonstrations such as walkthroughs and speed runs on video websites certainly put in a fair bit of effort in them. And for some part they’re acknowledged by those who view the videos. Heck, thanks to them I could find every pigeon in GTA:IV and finally get back to my busy life of eating pudding.
As such it’s not unreasonable to say they deserve some compensation for their efforts – just as long as it doesn’t come out of my pudding budget. But because they are working with copyrighted source material, it’s not always easy for these creative game enthusiasts to get paid.
Now, game-maker Nintendo and video site Niconico Douga are working together in the Creators Incentive Program in which rather than punish those who infringe on copyrights from holders like Nintendo, they will be given incentives based on the number of views they can rake in with their works.
By now you are probably more than sick of hearing Pharell Williams’ “Happy.” We’re not ragging on the song, but we strongly suspect that the international hit, though infectious, has started to wear out its welcome. It took a dedicated Weird Al to even keep us interested through the summer, so we’d say it’s about time to put this song to bed. Maybe we’ll break it out again next summer and laugh at all the memories.
However, there is one thing the video has helped illustrate beyond people’s willingness to show off their dance skills (or lack thereof) for a YouTube video: The nebulous world of copyright violation in Japan.
The internet has completely changed the way we work and live, but for those of us having children it can be hard to understand how different life has become for them as information technology natives.
Having some shoes that could be pumped full of air was the deciding factor of our social status in school at one time, but what are kids thinking about today? Kakurega Komyo is an IT worker in Japan who caught a glimpse of this life while setting up the internet in someone’s house.
Nowadays, when it comes to knock-offs of popular products, most people think of China. We’re not just saying that to pick on our neighbors to the west, there’s just an awful lot of suspect copies. Korean bootlegs have had their time making the rounds as well, but everyone seems to leave Japan alone. That is until now. A video uploaded by Japanese YouTube user, msdoom99, has surfaced with the goal of giving all those Japanese netizens who have laughed at Chinese and Korean knockoffs a taste of Japan’s little-known copies. Take a look at just a few and ask yourself, “So who’s laughing now?”
A man from Japan’s Gunma Prefecture is facing legal action on the grounds of copyright infringement after uploading Studio Ghibli’s 2013 animated film Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises in the West) to a public website in July and November last year, the Yomiuri Online reports. When questioned, the accused individual remarked that he uploaded the film “to be popular”, proving once again that crime, especially the dumb kind, does not pay.
For many years now people across the world have been treated to various informative public service announcements telling us to not record movies as we watch them in the theater. I recall once even being told that cinema piracy helps fund terrorism.
However, in Japan the NO MORE Eiga Dorobo (No More Movie Thief) campaign has transcended its original aim of copyright protection and has become a pop-culture phenomenon in its own right. The main characters Camera Otoko (Camera Man) or Patrol Lamp Otoko (Cherry Man) must have achieved their aim, as filming movies with bulky tape-loaded camcorders has seen a significant decline in recent years.
Now, having succeeded in their mission, it’s time for these guys to cash-in on their own popularity by selling little versions of themselves through Bandai’s online shopping site.
It seems our favorite giant rubber duck is in deep trouble again! Following its deflating experience at Taoyuan, it has risen to the headlines again while visiting Keelung, the last stop of its Taiwan tour. This time around, not only was it put up to the trials of bad weather, a series of marketing and planning hiccups due to miscommunication with the art piece’s creator put the big yellow fellow through a whirlwind of media reports. But what exactly went wrong?
Recently a new game developed for Android devices, Era’s Adventures was turning heads for its main character, Era’s slight resemblance to Nintendo’s famous dinosaur Yoshi. The attention had gotten so big that it caught the eye of Nintendo’s legal team who decided to have a chat with the developer, Botond Kopacz.
When it comes to reading famous literary works whose copyright license has expired, there is one piece of software that is renowned for doing the job rather well. It goes by the name of “Aozora Bunko” and is a digital contents reader available on a wide variety of devices; there’s even a version available for smart phone users. It is currently host to a plethora of copyright-free material rich in Japanese history and culture. What’s particularly exciting is that the more time goes by, the more the library of works can be seen to grow.
Anyone with an interest in old Japanese masterpieces – and can read Japanese – will surely be lured in by what this software has to offer. In this connection, on January 1 this year, the legendary writer Eiji Yoshikawa’s work “Miyamoto Musashi” is also set to be added to the collection. Miyamoto Musashi is a bestselling novel depicting the life of legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto, who actually existed during the Japanese Edo era.
Just what makes all this free content possible is the rule that governs copyright licensing laws: 50 years after an author has passed away, copyrighted works are released freely into the public domain.
Shuho Sato, the writer of Burakku Jyakku ni Yoroshiku, which commonly translates to “Say Hello to Black Jack,” is planning to make the award winning, 10 million copy selling manga available for free “second use.”
This means that after 15 September anyone in the world will be free to novelize, televise, create merchandise, or in any way adapt the original work for either commercial or non-commercial purposes without having to pay royalties. This is the latest move in the writer’s quest to find alternatives to the “outdated” model of intellectual property rights.