is a serious legal issue in Japan with video games – old and new. Just
this past year I've had to inform a number of different Japanese video
game companies that their copyrights were being infringed upon. These
infringements involved classic video game properties being sold or used
overseas without license or permission. The Japanese companies I dealt
with have been in the business for years, some are large corporations,
while others have no overseas operations or have scaled back game
One such copyright
infringement case I uncovered involved a U.S. company that had the
audacity to wipe the original publisher name and copyright year off the
title screen of a game they were selling. This same company also took
another Japanese game and replaced the original publishers logo with
theirs claiming ownership in order to look legitimate. They knew they
were selling unlicensed game properties from Japan and just had to
cover their tracks.
It just so happened that these
unlicensed games had out-of-date copyright and trademark filings, and
were owned by companies that did not have operations outside of Japan.
This was a weakness the violator thought they could exploit and get
away without being discovered, but they were wrong.
there is the case of the CBC Network. The Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation receives just under a billion dollars a year in federal
funding along with revenue from TV advertising. The network currently
operates "Cbc.ca/kids", a website aimed at children with Flash versions
of games that visitors can play. Their "classics games" section
features X Attack, a clone of Space Invaders (Taito) and Matrix Moon Mayhem, a clone of Moon Patrol (Irem). Another notable entry in their "action section" is Sushi Samurai, a clever clone of Burgertime (which was previously owned by Data East but then sold to G-mode, a Tokyo-based cell phone content company).
G-mode's Burgertime (left, 1982) and CBC Network's Sushi Samurai (right, 2006)
that's right, federal Canadian tax dollars are funding Flash clone
development of video games originally created by Japanese companies.
Some may argue there is no harm done since these games are not being
"sold" for any monetary value. That's wrong. The CBC is still selling
their TV programming to website visitors of all ages.