Newsletter No. 55 (January 2010)

Japanese Images for Scholarly Works:
NCC’s Challenge to Facilitate Their Use

Izumi Koide (Shibusawa Ei’ichi Memorial Foundation)
Eiko Sakaguchi (University of Maryland)

Members, NCC Image Use Protocol Task Force


I. Introduction: NCC and its Image Use Protocol Task Force
The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) is an independent nonprofit educational organization established in 1991. It is operated by volunteers, including librarians and faculty in Japanese studies, with NCC’s small staff. It serves the field of Japanese Studies in North America to strengthen Japanese language collections and to promote access to information in all forms and formats. Major focuses of NCC activities at present include access services and user training, collection development, and librarian’s professional development. Major funders are the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the Japan Foundation.

The NCC organized the Image Use Protocol Task Force (IUPTF) in January, 2007. It was formed in response to the growing needs of researchers seeking assistance in obtaining permission to use Japanese images in various settings such as exhibitions, teaching, and publishing. The IUP Task Force members include researchers, librarians, academic publishers, and museum curators; with representatives from both Japan and North America. The IUPTF objectives are:

  • To educate North American scholars and students about the procedures for gaining permission to use visual images from Japan,
  • To produce a simple set of guidelines for authors to use in gaining such permission,
  • To produce a set of bilingual templates for permission request letters that will be acceptable both to Japanese image rights holders and to US publishers of academic works,

To accomplish these objectives, the following steps were identified:

Step 1: Document the range of problems encountered by US academics,
Step 2: Clarify the differences in publishing environments between US academic publishing and the publishing industry in Japan,
Step 3: Organize a joint meeting with Japanese image right holders to promote mutual understanding and to solicit their advice on how to improve the process of securing permission to use Japanese images,
Step 4: Develop a set of “Best Practices for Accessing Visual Images from Japan.”

II. Step 1: Documenting the range of problems
The first Task Force meeting was held in August 2007 at Harvard University when the Task Force decided to conduct a survey via the Internet on the current situation and problems faced by researchers. The survey was carried out in late 2007. There were 120 responses to the survey, most from scholars, teachers or graduate students in Japanese or Asian studies in various disciplines; most of the respondents state that their native language is not Japanese. The Table 1: Disciplines and Purposes of Image Use below is the breakdown of responses by discipline and the ways scholars use images in their research.

Table 1: Disciplines and Purposes of Image Use

Table 1

Modified from Table 1 in Bazzell Yamamoto Tokiko, Sakaguchi Eiko, Yasue Akio, “Kaigai Nihon kenkyusha no gazo riyo” in Shuppan Nyusu, no. 2147 (2008.7. gejun): p.8.

The survey results were compiled and analyzed by Reiko Yoshimura (The Smithsonian Institution) and Eiko Sakaguchi and a more detailed report of the survey by Reiko Yoshimura is posted on the NCC’s Web page on Image Use Protocol > About the Project > Image Use Protocol Task Force Status Report March 2008 (http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~ncc/imageuse/statusreportmarch2008.html). The survey identified the types of images scholars use, their use patterns, procedures for obtaining permissions, and problems encountered. Major problems identified were:

  • Cannot locate appropriate contact or image rights holders.
  • Do not know whom to contact for permission.
  • Lack understanding on Japanese legal issues and their differences from the US, including the interpretation of “fair use.”
  • Lack knowledge of Japanese social protocols.
  • Language problems - cannot write letters in Japanese or Japanese lenders do not read English.
  • Problems in explaining procedural differences to Japanese lenders and US publishers.
  • Payment method - many Japanese lenders require bank transfers in Japanese Yen and do not accept credit card.

To sum up the survey results, common aspects of difficulties researchers encountered include lack of understanding of legal issues, cultural and social differences between North America and Japan, and communication problems.

III. The Tokyo Conference
The following two steps were taken by the IUPTF to accomplish its objectives, namely to clarify the differences in publishing environments between US academic publishing and the publishing industry in Japan, and to organize a joint meeting with Japanese image right holders to promote mutual understanding and to solicit their advice on how to improve the process of securing permission to use Japanese images. Both were realized at a one-day conference in Tokyo.

The conference was held on June 23, 2008 at the International House of Japan, with over 100 participants in attendance. Participants from North America consisted of Task Force members, librarians, North American scholars from various disciplines, and a representative from an American academic publisher. Japanese studies librarians and scholars from Europe also attended. From the Japan side, there were representatives from publishers, libraries, museums, temples, government agency, and scholars in cultural heritage studies.
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The morning meeting was an open symposium and the topics included the survey findings, the importance of using images, standard procedures for obtaining permission to use images in North America, and experiences of Japanese image users. The afternoon session was closed and started with presentations on standard procedures for dealing with image-use-permission by Japanese publishers, museums and religious institutions as well as individuals. Japanese publishers explained how to acquire permission to use images in publications and how they handle requests received for use of images to appear in publications. Museum curators described the increase in demand for images provided by museums. And temples and shrines shared obstacles in use of images due to their religious concerns. A draft of the Image Use Guide created by IUP Task Force was presented and a great deal of discussion followed with advice from Japanese stakeholders.

These are some of the important findings of the Tokyo Conference:
1. In general, images are copyrighted, and therefore, one needs permission(s) to use them.
2. One should observe the copyright laws of the country in which one plans to use (publish) the images, following the provisions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
3. In some cases, permissions may be required not only from a copyright holder but also from other right holders such as the owner/creator of the object in the image, the creator of the image, the owner of the image, and the subject of the image (hishatai), etc.
4. Japanese legal situations are substantially different from those of North America. In North America, the “Fair use” (“fair dealing” in Canada) provision is NOT commonly applied to use of images even for scholarly and educational purposes. While in Japan, Japanese copyright laws approve “quotation” of both texts and images and under certain conditions it is acceptable to use images without the copyright holder’s permission. Due to the “quotation” provision, therefore, rights holders are not accustomed to receiving requests for permission for scholarly publications.
5. In Japan generally the editorial staff of publishers obtains image reproduction permissions, on behalf of their authors.
6. Communication in English is not widely accepted among rights holders in Japan. Delay in responses is expected if English is used for communication.

The proceedings of the IUP Tokyo Symposium (morning session) were published in August 2009 in Japanese with the main goal of obtaining broader understanding of the issues related to image access and use and enlisting the cooperation of Japanese publishers, museums, image holders and other stakeholders. 800 copies were printed and widely distributed in Japan through the Japan Publishers Association, Japan Museum Association, Japan National University Library Association, Japan Private University Library Association, Zen Temples League and other content industries.

The booklet appears to be spurring plans for an image use workshop/seminar in Japan in the near future. There are also plans to publish a version of the booklet electronically on the IUP Website.

IV. Web Guide and Workshops
The NCC organized an IUP workshop as an official part of the 2009 Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting Program in Chicago. The IUP Task Force drafted the Image Use Guide website which was introduced in the AAS Workshop. Entitled “Guidelines to the Best Practices for Accessing Visual Images from Japan,” it was held on Friday March 26, 2009 attended by over 150 participants. Workshop Panelists were: Theodore C. Bestor (Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University), Rachelle Browne (Associate General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution), Patricia Crosby (Executive Editor, University of Hawaii Press), Izumi Koide, Satoshi Tarashima (Senior Manager of Loans, Tokyo National Museum), and Reiko Yoshimura. Each made a brief presentation followed by a spirited and most enthusiastic discussion from the audience. The report of this workshop is on the IUP Website at http://www.nccjapan.org/imageuse/pdf/ReportonIUPWorkshop.pdf.
The prototype of IUP website was further revised with the feedback received at the workshop, and officially launched in April 2009. The IUP Guide is freely accessible to anyone from the NCC Website, at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~ncc/imageuse/index.html.

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[1] This is the top page of the Image Use Protocol Guide. It can be found by searching for “NCC image use,”and also accessed from NCC’s top page as [2] NCC Home > Access Services and User Training > NCC Image Use Protocol Task Force.

IUP guide consists of three components, namely the guide, contact information which includes a blog page link, and information on activities of the IUP Task Force.

Procedures for obtaining permissions for using images include: identifying rights holders, finding contacts for rights holders, preparing bilingual permission request letters, sending the letters to relevant parties, and waiting for their response to follow their instructions.

[3]Under “When permission is required,” the “Right Holders” page is available. There is an explanation for categories of rights holders including copyright holders, owners of objects, image owners and subjects in photographs (hishatai).

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[4] “Sample Cases” are also accessed from “When permission is required.” There are nine sample cases provided as of December 2009, and by clicking on the sample case name, [5] a detailed description of the case appears.

[6] From sample cases, one can go to templates via clicks in the description. Case 1 is permission to use a magazine illustration as your book cover. In this case, two types of templates are provided: one for the copyright holder, the other for the owner of the material (such as library).

In cases of a magazine illustration, its copyright holder may be the publisher, however ownership may vary. The link is contained in a PDF document [7] “Publisher: Permission for use of image from their publication.” Each PDF file contains instructions and templates which include a cover letter and permission request forms (Forms A, and B which should be used in a specific cases).

[8] Sample Template -- Form A

[8] Form A is to request permission and consists of two parts: Request and Permission. The applicant is to fill all items in the Request section, and the first items in the Permission section, which include information to identify the request (applicant’s name, date of request, etc.). It is assumed that all of Form A will be returned; however even if one receives only the Permission part in return, the request can be identified as long as the applicant makes a copy before submission.

Templates are a sort of a “packet” for specific cases. If a relevant case is found, a user can download all the necessary templates in WORD format through a PDF. The “Permission Request Templates” page is a collection of ALL the templates, including those accessible from the “Sample Cases,” plus some additional templates. Templates are prepared by type of addressee, because whom you are writing to is the most important factor of letter writing in Japanese. Under each category of addressee, necessary documents are available according to each purpose, namely for scholarly publication, for the Website of an academic institution, and for promotional materials of academic institution for their events.

The NCC endeavors to make the image use protocol issue and IUP Web Guide known to as many interested people as possible and has been organizing workshops in various regions. So far three workshops have been held and one is planned, as follows:

April 30, 2009 The Half-Day Workshop on Using Japanese Images held in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Gordon W. Prange Collection, cosponsored by the University of Maryland, the Prange Collection, and the NCC with multiple speakers. 
July 15, 2009 What You Should Know; Using Japanese Visual Images for Your Teaching, Research and Publications was part of a panel at the Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference in Sydney, IUP TF member Eiko Sakaguchi was the presenter.
September 18, 2009 Using Japanese Images for Scholarly Works was presented at the Annual Conference of the European Association of Japanese Resources Specialists in Norwich, UK, IUP TF member Izumi Koide was panel moderator with Izumi Tytler (Bodleian Library of Oxford University) and Sachie Noguchi (Columbia University Library) as panelists.
January 25, 2010 IUP Workshop at the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library of the University of Toronto with Fabiano Rocha (University of Toronto Libraries), Suzanne Rancourt (University of Toronto Press), and Jack Howard (Royal Ontario Museum) as the presenters. 

The audience in the Australian presentation included librarians, scholars and postgraduate students. The presentation covered the IUPTF development and the resulting website. Emphasis was placed on two areas: that the basic principal of copyright in Australia is to follow the Australian copyright law when the publication with the images takes place in Australia; and the terms "Fair dealing" is used in the Australian copyright law instead of "Fair use" as in the copyright law in the United States and the interpretation may differ. The participating librarians gave the impression that they were willing to assist in providing more practical information for the Australian scholars on this issue.

At the workshop in Europe, participating members from various countries talked about their experiences in securing permissions for image use. They appreciated NCC’s efforts to bring this issue forward in an organized manner. As many European institutions own Japanese and other images, they are simultaneously users and providers of images. It was agreed that further information sharing is crucial to facilitate broader international image use.

V. Conclusion
Use of images in scholarly works and for education has been rapidly increasing; this trend is observed in every field of the humanities and social sciences. Since researchers rely on academic libraries to facilitate scholarly communication, the role of Japanese studies librarian may expand in accordance with such trends in academia. Through the NCC’s activities focused on image use, it is recognized that issues surrounding international use of Japanese images in scholarly communication are global. Therefore, international cooperation through library and librarians’ networks can help improve the situation.

The NCC encourages everyone in Japanese studies to use its IUP Website. Although the NCC does not provide legal advice, the IUP Website has many useful links, contact information, and comments are welcome. One can also share his/her experience with others through the IUP Blog.


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