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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Japan to Levy Royalty Fees on Blu-ray


Copyright holders have finally succeeded in applying extra charges on sales of Blu-ray DVD recorders and discs in Japan, the Japanese culture and industry ministries announced on Tuesday.

The currently imposed charges on the sales of DVD recorders and discs are expanding to the Blu-ray devices sold in Japan, the Asahi Shimbu newspaper reported today. The charges are expected to affect retail prices of the Blu-ray recorders and blank media in Japan.

The debate over digital recording devices remains unresolved in Japan, manufacturers and copyright holders have engaged in a fierce debate on compensatory charges and the allowable number of disc copies consumers are allowed to make, after recording their favorite digital TV program.

Japanese manufacturers have cancelled the introduction of the "dubbing 10" function for copy controlled Terrestrial digital TV broadcasts, which was scheduled to begin in the beginning of June. The function would allow Japanese consumers to make up to 9 copies of a DVD that holds terrestrial digital content. Copies would require both a recorder that supports the new feature as well as usage of CPRM DVD-R/RAM/-R DL media.

Until now, owners of DVD recorders are allowed to make a single DVD copy of the digital TV programs, due to the applied digital content protection restrictions. A digital TV program recorded on the hard-disk of a DVD recorder could be copied to DVD or another device just once. When the content is copied, the original data in the hard disk was deleted.

The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which oversees digital broadcasting, is expected to further discuss whether or when to introduce dubbing 10.

But in exchange for a possible acceptance of the dubbing 10 rule, copyright groups have demanded royalties on sales of hard disk recording devices, including HDD recorders, and portable music players, such as Apple's iPods.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which represents manufacturers, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which oversees copyright entities, agreed to impose charges on Blu-ray products as a compromise measure.


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