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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC): Home

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The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources



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The NCC works to expand and improve access to library resources and information about Japan, through collaboration with institutions and organizations in North America, Japan, and elsewhere. NCC coordinates projects to cooperatively develop Japanese collections and articulate the information needs of librarians, scholars, and others.

NCC's Statement on Japanese Copyright Law, Article 31


The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) would like first to express our gratitude to the National Diet Library (NDL) for their efforts to improve access to Japanese materials through the Digital Contents Transmission Service and Remote Photoduplication Service. NCC has worked closely with the NDL and other institutions over the years to increase access to materials through the Global Inter-Library Loan Framework (GIF), which was discontinued in 2018. Since then, our Inter-Library Loan and Document Delivery Committee has been coordinating with the NDL to ensure that the transition to the Digital Contents Transmission Service goes smoothly outside of Japan. However, in spite of all of our efforts, access to digitized materials has been difficult, especially given the current COVID crisis. We hereby request that further consideration be given to the revision of Japanese copyright law Article 31 that addresses issues of access to Japanese resources outside of Japan, particularly in North American institutions. In this request, we are joined by the US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC), and the American Advisory Commission (AAC) of the Japan Foundation, who offer their official support.

When the Coronavirus pandemic began in March of 2020, the majority of academic institutions and libraries in North America were forced to close their facilities, resulting in severely limited access to physical collections. With the uncertainties accompanying the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, many of those institutions are still unable to make plans for reopening. During this crisis, the demand for remote access to resources in electronic formats has exponentially increased, and librarians have had to rely heavily on the expanded use of electronic resources when providing reference services.

The restrictions imposed by the Japanese copyright law has always made it difficult to access Japanese resources, even during normal times, and the pandemic has further exacerbated the existing challenges. We had hoped that the feedback collected via the public comments on the proposals for the “Revision of the Rules on Library Rights Restrictions” conducted from December 4 to December 21, 2020, by the Agency for Cultural Affairs would be more explicitly reflected in the proposal.

Unfortunately, we find that the summary of the public comments does not adequately represent the needs of overseas users who require Japanese resources for teaching and research. Therefore, we ask that there be further discussions among the relevant groups to reconsider the points outlined below regarding the improvement of access to resources.

  1. National Diet Library Digitized Contents Transmission Service (Article 31.3)
    1. In the event that the access to the National Diet Library Digitized Contents Service becomes available to individuals in Japan through authentication with ID and password, we would appreciate that the same level of service be extended to overseas patrons.
      1. For individual scholars and researchers who have registered and acquired IDs and passwords to access the service in Japan, we would like to have permission to continue using the same IDs and passwords to access the service from overseas.
    2. For member libraries of the National Diet Library Digitized Contents Transmission Service, we request that librarians are permitted to have access to the authorized library operating terminal(s) remotely via VPN to enable the provision of reference and instruction services to their patrons.
    3. The current conditions of use for overseas member libraries is limited to viewing only of the digitized contents. We request that libraries are permitted to allow the printing and downloading of contents in the same manner as they are permitted to member libraries in Japan.

  2. Delivery methods of photocopied or scanned materials from Japanese libraries and related organizations (Article 31.1)
    During the pandemic, university campuses and libraries remain closed or offer very limited services and access to facilities and physical collections, preventing patrons from retrieving physical items at the library. That includes photo duplication or scanned copies of materials from Japan that are sent via courier or regular mail. We hope that the revision of the copyright law will allow the electronic transmission of materials (i.e., PDF files or temporary URLs) directly to requesting libraries and patrons, effectively removing barriers to access to resources.

The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically reshaped the way libraries provide access to resources and how patrons are able to access them both in Japan and worldwide. NCC urges relevant groups in Japan to continue discussions in hope that the copyright laws be revised to reflect the needs of users in the current scholarly environment. We ask that barriers be removed to allow for a more seamless flow of and access to Japanese materials and information.

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