Situation: Japan may limit downloading content from the network - we understand and discuss

    The Japanese government has put forward a bill prohibiting citizens of the country from downloading from the network any files that they do not have the right to use, including photos and texts. / Flickr / Toshihiro Oimatsu / CC BY

    What happened

    According to the law of copyright law in Japan for downloading unlicensed music or movies residents can get a fine of two million yen (about 25 thousand. Dollars) or a prison sentence.

    In February of this year, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the country decided to expand the list of file types prohibited for downloading. The organization proposed including any copyrighted content in it - computer games, software, as well as photographs and digital art, were included in the list. At the same time, the law forbade making and publishing screenshots of unlicensed content.

    The initiative also contained a proposal.block sites that distribute links to resources with unlicensed content (according to experts in Japan there are more than 200 of them).

    On March 8, these amendments were to be considered by the Parliament of Japan, however, under pressure from the public, the authors decided to postpone the adoption of the bill indefinitely. Next, we will tell you who supported and who opposed the new initiative.

    Who is for and who is against

    The most active supporters of amendments to the law were Japanese publishers of manga and comic books. According to them, sites that distribute this type of literature illegally cause major financial damage to the industry. One of these resources was blocked a year ago - experts estimated the losses of publishers from its activities at 300 billion yen ($ 2.5 billion).

    But many criticized the government’s proposal. In February, a group of scholars and lawyers issued an “emergency statement,” in which they called possible punishments too harsh, and the language vague. The authors of the document dubbed the proposal of politicians the “Internet atrophy” and warned that the new law would negatively affect culture and education in Japan.

    An official statement against the amendments was issued by the Japan Cartoonists Association. The organization condemned the fact that ordinary users can be punished for a relatively harmless act. Representatives of the association even proposed several adjustments, for example, to consider as violators only those who publish unlicensed content for the first time, and whose activity leads to large losses to copyright holders.

    Even the content makers themselves, whose rights the politicians planned to protect, did not agree with the amendments. According to the authors of the comics, the law will lead to the disappearance of fan art and fan community.

    Due to criticism, they decided to freeze the bill in its current form. However, politicians will continue to work on the text of the document taking into account the wishes of experts in order to exclude from it all potential “gray areas”.

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    Related Bills

    Not only are Japanese politicians pushing for changes in copyright laws. Since the spring of 2018, the European Parliament has been considering a new directive that obliges media platforms to introduce special filters to determine unlicensed content when uploading to the site (similar to the Content ID system on YouTube).

    This bill is also being criticized. Experts point out the vagueness of the wording and the complexity of implementing technologies that could distinguish content uploaded by the author from content uploaded by someone else. Nevertheless, the directive has already been approved by most European governments.

    / Flickr / Dennis Skley / CC BY-ND

    Another case is Australia. Changes to the law suggestsintroduce the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC). She was presented to believe that content authors have to spend a lot of time and effort searching and tracking the illegal distribution of their work. Therefore, ACCC proposes to shift this task to media platforms. It is still unknown whether the government will approve the initiative, but the document has already been criticized for a unified approach to different platforms.

    New bill promotesand the Singapore Department of Justice. One suggestion is to designate a “non-transferable” right that will allow content makers to claim authorship even if the licenses have been sold to someone else. The ministry also proposed to completely rewrite the text of the copyright law and make it more understandable for people without a legal education. These measures are expected to make the law more transparent and help content creators get fair pay for their work.

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