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NSK News Bulletin Online
December 2009
* Kitanippon Shimbun Ending Evening Edition
* JAL, ANA Reduce In-Flight Distribution of Newspapers
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Manga News Web Site Makes Debut
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Story of the Month>>>
Japanese Books Excluded from Revised Google Lawsuit Settlement

Kitanippon Shimbun Ending Evening Edition

The Kitanippon Shimbun, based in Toyama Prefecture, is to stop producing an evening edition as of Dec. 28 and will publish only a morning edition. The newspaper also announced a plan to revamp its morning edition and its Web site, starting at the outset of the coming year.

The company°«s announcement of the termination of its evening edition said that the overall media environment is undergoing a sweeping change due to the Internet and to corresponding changes in lifestyles.

°»In particular, the business environment surrounding the publication of our evening edition is becoming increasingly harsh, and we have concluded that we can no longer best meet the diverse needs of our readers through the continued publication of an evening edition,°… the announcement said.

The termination of the evening edition means that the newspaper will move some popular content from the evening edition into its morning edition, the announcement said. It also said that it will revamp its news Web site by boosting the volume of content and providing the latest news ahead of its remaining print edition.

The monthly subscription fee for the morning edition alone will stay at 2,987 yen, and the per-copy price of the morning edition will also remain unchanged.

The newspaper°«s evening edition was first launched in 1940, suspended in 1944, and later resumed in 1955.

According to statistics from the Audit Board of Circulation (ABC) for September of this year, the Kitanippon Shimbun°«s morning edition had a circulation of 248,636 (copies), while the evening edition stood at only 31,939.

The Kitanippon Shimbun is the fourth publisher of a package-set of morning and evening editions to terminate its evening edition in 2009. The Minami-Nippon Shimbun, a major daily newspaper in Kagoshima Prefecture, as well as the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo, two major daily newspapers in Okinawa Prefecture, ended production of their evening editions earlier this year.

JAL, ANA Reduce In-Flight Distribution of Newspapers

All Nippon Airways Co. announced on Oct. 30 that it is terminating its free in-flight distribution of newspapers in its economy-class sections on both domestic and international flights, effective Jan. 4.

The newspaper distribution will be maintained for its premium-class seating sections on domestic flights and for its first-class, business-class and premium-economy-class sections on international flights, the airline said. The company will keep newspapers available at its airport lounges.

ANA°«s public relations section said the company had been re-examining the merits of various free services for passengers through customer satisfaction surveys, among other means.

The airline decided to cut back its service of providing newspapers free of charge to passengers, due to the availability of other sources of information via mobile phones and Internet portal sites, ANA officials said. °»We are changing our conventional in-flight services, including the free distribution of newspapers, in order to provide other forms of new services,°… an ANA official said.

In a similar development, Japan Airlines announced on Nov. 13 that it is terminating its free newspaper distribution services for economy-class and J-class passengers on domestic flights, as well as for its economy-class sections on international flights, also effective Jan. 4.

However, JAL said that it will continue its free distribution of newspapers in first-class sections on domestic flights, in its first-class and executive-class sections on international flights, and in its airport lounges.

A JAL public relations official said the cutback is the result of the company°«s all-out efforts to reduce expenditures, with all kinds of services being scrutinized.


Manga News Web Site Makes Debut

Kabanet Inc., an Internet ad agency and production company based in Tokyo, on Oct. 15 launched a Web site that reports the news in °»manga°… Japanese comic strip format. The news at the site, which is called °»Manga no Shimbun°… (, is available free of charge.

Each news item is generally depicted in a manga format filling two pages. News items include one featuring Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama°«s policy speech at the Diet.

Son Yang, the editor of the manga news site, says, °»We think that reporting the daily news in a manga format will make it much easier to understand current topics and will help attract attention to the news from people in broader walks of life.°… He expects many people to read newspapers and to deepen their understanding of the news using his site as an entry point.

The manga news covers political, business, city and international news, as well as entertainment and sports. Two to three new items are produced and distributed daily.

Son collects information from newspapers, TV, the Internet and his own sources, drawing up a scenario for each piece. He assigns staff and outside artists to draw the manga work, examining the finished product before posting it to the site.

According to Son, it takes about eight hours to complete one piece. The company has two staff artists and about 50 contract-based artists.

The company aims to generate revenues from banner advertisements, fees for secondary distribution of manga pieces, as well as from the production/distribution of press releases and investor-relations information in a manga format.

The company also plans to distribute news in three foreign languages -- Korean, French and English, as well as to start services for mobile users.

Story of the Month>>>

Japanese Books Excluded from Revised Google Lawsuit Settlement

Two U.S. authors and publishers groups on Nov. 13 filed a revised settlement document in a U.S. court to permit Google Inc. to distribute millions of digital books online.

The revised settlement is only to cover books that were registered with the U.S. copyright office or published in Britain, Australia or Canada, and will exclude books published in Japan.

However, the Internet giant Google has already scanned and distributed (via its search engine) numerous foreign books, including Japanese books, without obtaining the approval of the holders of the copyrights. Google has not clarified how it proposes to deal with the data from those digitally copied books.

As a result, Japanese authors and publishers groups and the government°«s Cultural Affairs Agency have voiced concerns about the possibility that Google might keep on digitally copying books in countries not covered by the revised agreement.

The U.S. Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed their modified agreement with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. The two groups and Google in October 2008 reached an original settlement deal over a class-action suit launched against the Internet search giant°«s Book Search Project.

In September of this year, Shuppan Ryutsu Taisaku Kyogikai (Ryutaikyo), a group of 99 small-scale book publishers in Japan, announced that it would opt out of the settlement agreement. Hearing reports of the new, modified settlement deal, an official of Ryutaikyo said, °»The revised settlement is still based on Google°«s illegal copying of copyrighted works and therefore, we cannot accept the revised settlement.°… The official said that the group would demand that Google delete Japanese books from its archival database and that it stop any further digitalization of Japanese books.

Kenta Yamada, chairman of the speech and expression committee of the Japan P.E.N. Club, said that the group aims to determine how Google plans to deal with the database that contains Japanese books and whether it will suspend scanning Japanese books. In September, the Japan P.E.N. Club officially submitted a notice of objection to the U.S. court against the original settlement agreement.

That settlement would have given Google permission to include the works it scanned in its search engine and to sell access to some works online in exchange for sharing revenue with the authors and publishers who owned the copyrights to the books.

°»Japanese rights holders are excluded from the revised settlement. This means that we Japanese authors are not due to obtain compensation for the unauthorized copying,°… said Masahiro Mita, a vice president of the Japan Writers°« Association. °»We plan to demand that Google either delete digitalized Japanese book contents from its database or promise not to use them for online distribution,°… Mita said.

The Japanese government°«s Cultural Affairs Agency has remained a silent observer, noting that the legal dispute involves only private individuals and that the government should not intervene.

On Nov. 6, however, the agency formally requested that the U.S. government promptly let copyright holders in Japan know about the details of the revised settlement.

Nihon Shinbun Kyokai
The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association
Nippon Press Center Bldg., 2-2-1 Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo100-8543, Japan

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