While most of its citizens were busy watching the arrest of a cult terrorist who tried to gas the Tokyo subway, Japan’s House of Representatives quietly passed a much stricter revision of its copyright law. And nobody noticed except the inhabitants of 2 chan.
The revision was rushed through and passed without council or discussion. The people who could have voted against it were switched out, so there was practically no opposition. There was almost no coverage of this in the media, and so, with the Japanese public simultaneously oblivious and distracted, there has been very little outcry over the matter. Only 2ch seems to care, and the Japanese don’t exactly have any respect for that particular demographic.
The Japanese Internet was well and truly sniped. Boom, headshot.
Attorney at law Toshimitsu Dan points out the impending changes:
- Ripping and copying of copy-protected and encoded materials like DVDs and games is no longer considered “for personal use” and is punishable.
- The sale of software and hardware that circumvents copy protection and access protections is forbidden.
- The intentional download of illegally uploaded materials is now punishable.
The lax wording of the revision makes for potentially interesting implications. The regulation could cover popular sites like YouTube and Nico Nico Douga that download temporary data onto the computer before playing, so kicking back and watching Kyon miss a kick is out of the question. In fact, Japanese citizens can’t even kick back and watch it anywhere else in the world — the law includes all Japanese citizens, even those who are not residing in Japan.
Granted, Japan is not exactly famous for stringent copyright law enforcement. The 2009 amendment to the copyright law had already made it illegal to download copyrighted material, but it didn’t manage to do much thanks to a lack of penalties. Even the 2009 ban on R4 cards had little effect on sales, with the first arrest made only after an amendment in 2011.
However, the new copyright law seems determined to bring the rain to copyright violaters. For one, although it didn’t do such a great job defining everything else, it was very clear on what it intends to do with offenders: The scum face a prison sentence of up to 2 years or a fine of up to 2 million yen ($25,000).
The revised copyright law will come into force on October 1, so just keep an eye out for outrageous arrests of Japanese people doing completely normal things.
- Belarus outlaws viewing of foreign websites
- Iran restricts use of foreign e-mails
- China forces the internet to use real names