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2014.08.19 No-charge copyright for Doraemon
Doraemon, a longtime, popular TV cartoon series in Japan, has recently begun airing in the United States. Twenty-six episodes are scheduled to appear on Disney XD, Disney’s children’s channel. Doraemon has been screened in 40 Asian and European countries and regions, but this is the first attempt to air the series in the United States. The character names and settings have been slightly changed to appeal to American viewers, but the new series is required to expand its name in the biggest entertainment country, the United States. 
 According to articles in the Nikkei and Jiji Press, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co.Ltd. and its subsidiary, VIZ Media (whose head office is in California), which manage the copyrights for Doraemon, held a briefing session to build recognition at the Japanese Consulate General in New York. During the session, they announced an interesting plan. Japanese companies in the United States who use the characters for their advertisements and sales promotions will not be charged copyright fees. Toy, food, and beverage companies have already begun. In general, those characters cost companies the same range of copyright fees that famous actors charge. This plan aims to enhance the visibility of the characters for free, and then earn more from merchandise.
 Despite the popularity of Japanese cartoon characters in foreign countries, the copyright fee income in 2013 was 197.3 billion Yen. On the other hand, the expenses to pay foreign countries were 819.3 billion Yen, and the balance of trade has become over 600 billion Yen. There are complicated issues in Japan regarding copyrights among authors, publishers, and agents, which have ruled out any possibility of change in character design. Would it be possible to improve the balance of trade with the free-charge copyright methods to loosen strict copyright protection? It would be necessary to maintain Japanese cartoon characters’ popularity.

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