|This pre-1953 Japanese film or image thereof, directed by a person who died more than 38 years ago, is now in the public domain.
This is because in July 2006, a Japanese court ruled that all films produced in Japan prior to 1953 were exempt from a change of copyright law changing the term for cinematographic works from 50 years after publication to 70 years. .
However, the Tokyo District Court ruled on 17 September 2007 that films by Akira Kurosawa (died 1998) remain copyrighted until 2036, ruling that an older pre-1971 law applies. That old law kept copyright protection for 38 years after the creator's death.
In 2008, the Intellectual Property High Court affirmed the lower court's decision. The report states the "Japanese Intellectual Property High Court ruling that establishes the Tokyo District Court's September 2007 decision to be correct," and that "the preceding judge Nobuyoshi Tanaka is quoted as stressing that 'the copyright over films is protected for 38 years from the year after the death of the director.'"