The Taipei District Court on Monday ruled in favor of Japanese pornographic film studio MAX-A in an international lawsuit that accused Web site portals in Taiwan and other Taiwanese companies of making profits on films MAX-A produced through unauthorized distribution for online viewing and downloading.
MAX-A filed the lawsuit in 2010 against 12 Taiwanese companies, including Yamedia Inc (天空傳媒), alleging illegal distribution and copyright infringement and seeking compensation of NT$115 million (US$3.75 million).
The decision has been hailed as a landmark, since it is the first time a court in Taiwan backed copyright protection for pornography, with evidence indicating that Taiwanese suppliers and video download service providers signed no deals with MAX-A.
In past judgements, judges have ruled that pornographic films, known as AV (adult video) in Japan and Taiwan, do not warrant copyright protection, saying the materials violate sexual morality, contravene social order and are not in the public’s interest.
Monday’s ruling read: “Copyright law is to protect all forms of human ideas and expressions, and should protect the spirit of creativity. AV products are a manifestation of human civilization, a part of expressed speech and opinions, and therefore are protected under the Constitution.”
“Copyright law protects the intellectual creations by individuals and of their investment. It does not pass judgement on morality, social customs or if the product was good or bad... Therefore AV products are protected under copyright law,” it read.
The accused, Yamedia Inc, a Taiwanese portal best known for its yam.com (蕃薯藤) Web site, said it signed contracts and paid copyright fees to Taiwanese AV suppliers.
Taiwanese AV suppliers said they did not break the law because past judgements ruled that AV products lack copyright protection.
However, despite the ruling, MAX-A will not be able to receive financial compensation, because the court agreed with Taiwanese companies’ claim of not knowing they were breaking the law.
The ruling can be appealed.
MAX-A president Wataru Ishii came to Taiwan to testify.
Ishii said his company’s AV products are all registered with Japanese video industry authorities, each with a registered serial number, and all have copyright protection in Japan.
“We did not authorize AV product distribution to Taiwanese companies, and we have no authorizing mechanism in Taiwan. Therefore, it was not possible for Taiwanese AV suppliers and other companies to receive authorization from us,” Ishii said.
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