As expected, the Lower House of Japan's Diet (parliament) today passed an amendment to the 1972 Copyright Law that gives local labels the right to stop "gray imports" from entering Japan.

As expected, the Lower House of Japan's Diet (parliament) today passed an amendment to the 1972 Copyright Law that gives local labels the right to stop "gray imports" from entering Japan.

The amendment is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2005, the target date set by industry organization the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ).

Japanese labels sought passage of the amendment to prevent local repertoire licensed to companies elsewhere in Asia from entering Japan as low-priced imports.

The new amendment lets labels block imports of product for which they have domestic rights as owners or as licensees from copyright owners in other territories. The labels have pledged not to use their newly acquired import right to block imports of non-Japanese product.

According to the RIAJ, 4.65 million Japanese-repertoire albums were sold in Asia outside of Japan in 2002; 680,000 of those CDs were subsequently imported back into Japan to compete with higher-priced, domestically manufactured product.