I have attended seminars on copyright since 2007. Center of ICT and Distance Education-The Open University of Japan (CODE) holds the seminars for Japanese librarians, educators, and school administrators several times in a year.

The Center continues the “promotion of multimedia education, including ICT education” that had been undertaken by the National Institute of Multimedia Education (NIME). With the abolition of NIME, CODE was established within the Open University of Japan in 2009 in recognition of the need for advancing ICT education in order to improve the international competitiveness of Japanese university education. (Extract form CODE website)


– provides ICT education consulting services and dispatches of instructors for ICT education seminars in accordance with the needs of individual universities.

– provides free of charge useful tools and systems for enhancing education quality as well as ICT education seminars, copyright seminars, and international workshops.

– promotes the distribution of e-learning materials that can be used immediately in university classes and the provision of information and shared use of contents related to e-learning. (For more information)

More I know about the Intellectual property (IP) rights, more I feel that I am violating copyright law and up against a wall. Copyright issues, especially when it comes to music, videos, movies and Web sites, include lots of different rights. There is a great risk of describing copyright law in Japan, as I am just a teacher not a lawyer, however, I can say that copyright law (which we don’t have the global standard) is not articulate and practical guidelines for educators. The only thing I am sure that when it comes to “fair use”, as like under U.S copyright law, teachers do not have permission for anything goes even for educational purposes. And moreover, for actual legal advice regarding copyright and other IP rights we should consult a lawyer who knows about the issues.

As I read through the readings for this week I looked over the handout that was distributed in the copyright seminar and noticed that the handout printed with three different marks.

Those marks are “FREE USE MARK”. The Copyright Division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs diffuses FREE USE MARK that indicates an author’s intent to allow others to use his/her work. Please note that the following information about FREE USE MARK is my crude summary.

Copy OK

This mark allows to printout, copy, and distribute the work for “FREE” for commercial and non-commercial use, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole.

Use by Disabled OK

This mark allows limited use by people with disabilities to copy, transmit, and distribute the work for non-commercial use. It lets others to change the materials.

Use for School Education OK

This mark allows limited use for school education to copy, transmit, and distribute the work for non-commercial use. It lets others to change the materials.

(Details are only in Japanese)

As like the Creative Commons copyright licenses, FREE USE MARK requires users to attribute the original creator(s) of a work as long as the original work is credited, however, I feel that Creative Commons makes a stand on rights more for creators and FREE USE MARK does more for users.

It is SOOOOO inconvenient to have copyright law by country and use different copyright licenses like FREE USE MARK and Creative Commons. Not only educators who work at international settings like us but also people who live in the digital age suffer a loss between the reality of the internet and the reality of copyright laws.

How do we teach copyright and what is our obligation as educators?

We need to teach the reality of copyright law and basic legal knowledge that helps students not to violate others copyright and to protect their own copyright. We also need to show them how to maximize digital potential with sharing and innovating our creativity.

image credit: Agency for Cultural Affairs 

2 thoughts on “FREE USE MARK

  1. Thank you for sharing the laws from here in Japan! This is really important for us to know since we do live here. I was reassured by what we discussed in our session in November, though, that the copyright laws of the country where the work was created apply here in Japan. That means if we’re using works from outside Japan, especially from the US, that the copyright laws that I’m more familiar with apply. I definitely think I need to do more research in this area though, so anything you can share would be really helpful!

  2. Hosoi-sensei,
    Thanks for sharing this info and links here in your blog. I have not heard anything about those copyrights symbols from 文化庁 before .

    When and where do Japanese using this marks??? I have not seen people using the marks before. What is the difference between ” Japanese Creative Common marks (under Japanese law) ” and this “文化庁 marks” ?

    I know you have been studying this topic and know a lot. When I read your blog, now I assume I violate the rights without knowing the Japanese law. I am confused; not sure about this now…. I will check your links to study, but any other suggestions??

    Seems like I can attend the workshop at Center of ICT and Distance Education-The Open University of Japan (CODE). Maybe I should do that.

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