• Kyodo News

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned lower court rulings and sided with major broadcasters that a Tokyo company is violating copyright laws by streaming Japanese TV programs for people abroad.

According to a lower court ruling, the company, Nagano Shoten, has transferred TV programs to clients’ personal computers via the Internet, using transmission devices provided by the customers. The devices are connected to the firm’s antennas and the Internet.

NHK and the five major private TV broadcasters that filed the case are seeking an injunction against the service, saying Japan’s content industry will suffer grave damage if the service continues to extensively stream their programs without paying copyright fees.

Nagano Shoten said it is just renting out space to install the devices belonging to its customers, who chiefly live abroad, and is not infringing copyright.

Presenting its first judgment on this kind of service, which is provided by a number of companies, the top court sent the case back to the Intellectual Property High Court.

In June 2008, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the case in favor of Nagano Shoten, saying it was the company’s customers who were operating the devices and transmitting TV programs, and that each device sends data only to one client rather than a wider audience. The ruling was upheld by the Tokyo High Court six months later.

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