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Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading Revised

December 19, 2019

From the standpoint of enhancing predictability for markets involving electronic commerce and trading of information property, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) periodically revises the Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading, the first version of which was issued in 2002, by reorganizing the interpretations of the Civil Code and other relevant laws.

METI hereby releases the latest guidelines which were revised in line with the revision of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in 2018 and the revision of the Copyright Act in the same year.

1. Outline of the Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading

The Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading were formulated in March 2002 with a view to enhancing predictability for concerned parties and contributing to the facilitation of trade by clarifying how the Civil Code and other relevant laws are applied to various legal issues related to electronic commerce, information property trading, etc. (the guidelines were originally titled “Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce” as of March 2002).

With the cooperation of academic experts, related ministries and agencies, consumers, and the business community, METI presents an approach to the interpretation of the existing laws. METI anticipates that this approach will serve as an indicator for interpreting such laws surrounding electronic commerce and information property trading.

Since the formulation of the original guidelines in March 2002, METI has revised the guidelines as necessary, in accordance with situations in trade practices, trends in related technologies, and the development of international and internal rules surrounding electronic commerce and information property trading. In this context, METI has revised the guidelines based on the results of deliberation by the Working Group on Rule Establishment for the Business Utilizing IT under the Information Economy Subcommittee of the Commerce, Distribution and Information Committee of the Industrial Structure Council.

2. Details of the revision

The following points have been revised in line with the revision of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in 2018 and the revision of the Copyright Act in the same year. METI did not open a call for public comments on this draft revision prior to its release, since this revision is a minimal revision mainly conducted in response to the revision of these Acts.

  1. II-7 Provision of IDs, passwords and other personal data via the internet
    The Unfair Competition Prevention Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the enhancement of rules for the acts hindering effects brought about by “technological restriction measures” under the Act.
    The Copyright Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the institutional development involving technological means effective for controlling the utilization of works, etc. (measures for avoiding access control, etc.) under the Act.

  2. II-9-1 Use of works on the internet
    The Copyright Act: The footnotes of this section were revised in line with the development of the provisions of the Act for the limitation of copyrights so as to make the provisions more flexible to meet the advancement of digitalization and networking.

  3. II-9-4 Use of other persons’ copyrighted works in e-learning
    The Copyright Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the development of the provisions, etc. of the Act for the limitations of copyrights, to make the provisions current with the advancement of informatization in the field of education.

  4. III-8 Assertion by users against assignees of the users’ intellectual property rights
    The Copyright Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the development of the provisions for the limitations of copyrights to make the provisions more flexible to meet the needs of the advancement of digitalization and networking.

  5. III-10 Liability for third parties providing a method for destroying access control of software, e.g., try-and-buy software and software with accessible period
    The Unfair Competition Prevention Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the enhancement of rules for the acts hindering effects brought about by “technological restriction measures” under the Act. In addition, the case example of the legal precedents cited in Footnote 8 was changed to the case example of the legal precedents which is referred to in the explanations of the revised Unfair Competition Prevention Act.

  6. III-11 Legal approaches to using data sets
    The Unfair Competition Prevention Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the new establishment of civil measures for unauthorized acquisition, unauthorized use, etc. of “limited provision of data.” In line with this revision of the section, the descriptions of trade secrets were also revised and reorganized.
    The Copyright Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the development of the provisions of the Act for the limitation of copyrights so as to make the provisions more flexible to meet the advancement of digitalization and networking.
    Other revision: The overall composition of this section was changed.

  7. II-3 Sharing with peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software
    The Copyright Act: The details of this section were revised in line with the revision of the Act in 2014 (development of print rights).

  8. II-9-3 Inadvertently-photographed works
    The Copyright Act: The expressions of this section were revised taking into consideration the passage of time related to the descriptions concerning the revision of the Act in 2012 (exploitation of incidentally captured works).

  9. Other revisions, e.g., revision of numbering of Articles and minor revision of expressions

3. Call for public comments for future revision

METI will revise the Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading as needed to address changes in trading practices, technical trends, progress in the development of international rules and other matters. METI will call for public comments for future revision of the guidelines as necessary. Currently, METI is advancing the operations for the purpose of revising the guidelines in line with the revision of the Civil Code (provisions related to claims), which is scheduled to be put into force on April 1, 2020. Accordingly, METI will release the newly revised version of the guidelines after the enforcement of the revised Civil Code.

Send your comments to:

Address: 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo (postal code: 100-8901)
Division in charge: Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau, METI
Facsimile (fax) number: 03-3501-6639
Email address: ecip-rule@meti.go.jpメールリンク
Note: If you send comments, please use the subject line “Comments for the Interpretative Guidelines on Electronic Commerce and Information Property Trading” at the top of your facsimile or email.

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