Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Court on Feb. 20 sentenced two men to six months in jail for selling pirated Japanese adult videos, with the judge ruling that some of the videos contained original dramatic content. It is the first case of its kind in the country for pornographic videos to be covered under copyright protection, reports China Times.
Defense lawyer Hsueh Chin-feng said the verdict marked a precedent and he will discuss with his clients on whether to appeal or seek a retrial.
His clients, store owner Chang Shan-cheng and employee Chou Chia-min, were found selling Japanese adult DVDs for between NT$25 and NT$50 (US$0.80-$1.60) in 2010. Producers of adult entertainment came to Taiwan to sue Chang for violating their copyright, and prosecutors in Taipei indicted Chang and Chou on copyright charges. The Taipei Court later handed down a “not guilty” sentence on the charge of copyright infringement, instead sentencing the defendants to six months in prison for offenses against sexual morality.
After Taipei prosecutors filed an appeal, judges involved in the case sought assistance to evaluate the related videos. They identified 16 as being original in content and thus eligible to be protected under copyright laws.
Taiwan had previously declined to pursue copyright infringement claims by Japanese producers of adult material, deeming it to be obscene and thus unworthy of protection.
Lee Teh-tu, a spokesman for the Intellectual Property Court, said that all courts had been following a 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court to judge that pornographic videos should not be protected because they violated social order. But the legal environment is changing, Lee said.
The judges involved in the case stated that copyright protection is a benchmark for evaluating a society’s advancement and democracy. A source noted that the definition of pornographic or obscene changes with time, adding that the the D H Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was previously banned in many countries for perceived obscenity but is now seen as an important literary work addressing the subject of female sexuality.