Taiwan Covers Japanese Porn Under Copyright Protection for 1st Time

Feb 24, 2014 12:00 PM PST

NEW TAIPEI — Taiwan's Intellectual Property Court sentenced two men to six months in jail for selling pirated Japanese adult videos, with the judge ruling that some of the videos contained what it deemed “original dramatic content.”

According to reports from Japanese and Chinese media outlets, this case marks the first instance in which pornographic videos from Japan have been covered under copyright protection.

Defense lawyer Hsueh Chin-feng said that because the the verdict marked a precedent, he will discuss with his clients on whether to appeal or seek a retrial.

His clients, store owner Chang Shan-cheng and employee Chou Chia-min, were selling Japanese adult DVDs in 2010 when the videos' producers arrived in Taiwan to sue them for violating their copyright. Prosecutors in Taipei subsequently indicted Chang and Chou on copyright charges.

The Taipei Court handed down a "not guilty" sentence for the charge of copyright infringement, instead sentencing the defendants to six months in prison for offenses against sexual morality.

After Taipei prosecutors filed an appeal, judges involved in the case used third-party assistance to evaluate the material, and collectively identified 16 videos original in content and thereby eligible to be protected under copyright laws.

Taiwan had previously declined to pursue copyright infringement claims by Japanese producers of adult material, deeming the content obscene and thus unworthy of protection.

Lee Teh-tu, a spokesman for the Intellectual Property Court, said that all courts had previously been following a 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court that declared porn videos should not be protected because they “violated social order.” But, according to Lee, the legal environment is changing.

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