If you live in Japan and love classic movies, you are in luck. Actually this luck is probably old news to you. You probably are already aware that over 200 Paramount titles are available on DVD for low, low prices thanks to First Trading Corp., which releases films whose copyrights have expired. But now your luck is legally going to continue since a Japan court ruled in favor of First Trading's right to sell the DVDs, which go for as low as 500 Yen ($4.40) and include favorites Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Roman Holiday.
So why are we Americans still paying full price? Well, in 2004, a law extended the copyright on films an extra 20 years. Therefore we can't get Casablanca for cheap until 2012. But apparently Japan is interpreting the extension differently than us. Paramount Pictures went to the Japan court in May with an injunction request to stop First Trading's distribution of their titles, but on Tuesday Judge Makiko Takabe denied their claims. He said the extension law should not retroactively include films who went into public domain before the law was passed. Therefore First Trading has free reign on all titles released in and before 1953.