Japan Rams ACTA Through; Ratifies It While Avoiding Debate

from the but-of-course dept

We heard some rumblings out of Japan over the weekend that the ruling party was seeking to ram ACTA through the ratification process there. This wasn’t a huge surprise. Japan was actually a key player in the formation of ACTA at the very beginning, and it was where the first official “signings” all took place. Japan has been pushing for exceptionally strict copyright laws and ACTA was supposed to help spread such laws further around the globe. Already, we’ve seen the country criminalize unauthorized downloads and making DVD backups… leading to a publishing exec facing jail time for offering a book that tells people how to back up their DVDs.

About a month ago, the upper house of the Japanese legislature passed ACTA, as the first step in ratifying it. Some had thought that ACTA might stall out as a minor issue while other political turmoil went on, but it appears that Japan’s ruling party has decided to push forward with the ratification. Last week, the Foreign Affairs Committee within the legislature tried to push through ACTA without allowing any discussion from opposing politicians — which caused a ruckus, leading to a slight delay. However, after a few days, the committee passed it anyway. The ruling party then sought to do something similar, rushing it through a full vote, which appears to have just happened, resulting in ACTA’s approval with effectively no real debate. In fact, it was mostly a non-story in Japan. It wasn’t covered by the press and most politicians were basically silent about it.

This is fairly incredible, given the widespread protests we saw towards ACTA in Europe and a rapidly growing protest movement in Japan. Still, the protestors admit that ACTA just hasn’t caught on as an issue in Japan like it has elsewhere. That’s unfortunate for a variety of reasons, but they’re hoping to change that with a protest on September 9th.

Of course, there’s a question of how useful is it to ratify ACTA when many of the other negotiating parties (mainly the EU countries) don’t seem likely to follow through and ratify the document in its current form. One report I heard out of Japan suggested that the ruling party there recognizes that ratifying ACTA is mostly symbolic at this point, but that it needed to be done to “save face” for the negotiators. Of course, if they really wanted to “save face,” perhaps they shouldn’t have negotiated for absolutely awful limits on how copyright can be reformed, while pushing for greater enforcement without necessary safety valves against abuse. Either way, the whole thing definitely has all of the appearances of ACTA being rammed through by political interests who don’t want any debate on such a topic.

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Comments on “Japan Rams ACTA Through; Ratifies It While Avoiding Debate”

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Anonymous Coward says:

copyright and IP are the most important things in the world. where would we be without them? i have to wonder though just how they or laws like ACTA will save us in a real worldwide crisis? will ‘saving face’ be as important as saving everything and everyone else? only time will tell. stay tuned for the next fascinating episode of how mankind allowed itself to be well and truly screwed by those that lived only in make believe

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I do not disagree with that cultural tale of Japan 20 years ago, but Japan is waking up to reality and the conflicts of politics. After the tsunami there has been a lot more political activism and something they have somewhat lacked: Critique of the ruling parties and how they handle things. As we are moving into the age of freeflowing informations of the internet, I think that even the japanese people will stand up. Maybe in a different and probably more respectful manner than us westerners, but there is no doubt that the political active people are becoming a much more important factor. IP-activists are a completely separate species though…

Manok (profile) says:

Well, Japan… They seem to be getting tough on copyright infringement lately, but they never infringed much in the first place. I’ve never ever stumbled upon any Japanese download web site, ever.

Anyone here who has?

Please wake me up and alert me once the Russians and Chinese start cracking down hard, because then we are in real trouble.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

2 problems with your assertions. First is – when was the last time you tried searching in Japanese? I’m sure you’d find more if you searched in kanji instead of English, and there’s probably plenty of Russian sites if you brush up on your Cyrillic typing skills. Just because you’re never found them by blindly searching for other things, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

The other is, at the risk of Godwinning, the old “they came for the … but I wasn’t one” issue. Even if Japanese torrent sites didn’t exist and this was all being done to address a non-existent problem, don’t fool yourself for a second into thinking that the pro-ACTA people in governments in YOUR country won’t start holding this up as a reason why ACTA wasn’t so bad after all and people should try passing it again where you live. ignoring this only makes it difficult to deal with when those people have fooled politicians into thinking it’s the right thing to do again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This is precisely why the AC who constantly insists that industry agreements are the result of blocking SOPA and it’s the public’s fault is spouting bullshit. Industry agreements being backroom is precisely how people can be fed up with it and point out the concerns. What would SOPA have done? Nothing more than give the RIAA an excuse to say, “Thanks SO much for approving that. And now that you’ve did, we want another copyright extension! You’ve approved our requests before, right? Also we’d like to criminalise YouTube and the ability to duplicate files.”

Seriously, the guy’s just mad the public broke his code.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Probably sending people to jail for not buying enough. Because if someone’s not buying movies and music, they must be a pirate, right?

Seriously, I’m surprised that the **AA’s haven’t already started drumming up support for laws making the purchase of their products 100% mandatory. I guess they just haven’t thought of it yet.

Violated (profile) says:

No to ACTA

So much for democracy when such a large treaty is passed without any opposing voice being given the chance to air their concerns. I am not even sure how you would class such a Government beyond foolish.

Then what can I say to DVD backups being banned. Anyone with kids well knows that DVDs and young kids do not mix well. So keep the original DVD safe and burn the kids a copy they can damage all they want with a new copy available when it no longer plays right. One of many fair uses clauses I am sure.

Well this is a sad day indeed. They have obviously seen the large public protect and failure of ACTA in Europe. Now they want to sure up what remains so they hit the remaining countries hard with all opposition denied.

I can only say that we need to work hard in the remaining countries to ensure ACTA is rejected when if ACTA does hit the right numbers when it will become a live international treaty and that would be trouble. Even in a future year the EU may get ACTA when they go we will only do this for you if the EU ratifies ACTA. And with barely a whimper of protest or news story they would. So the fight to kill ACTA must be global and we must fight on a global level.

Then if you want a second reason then look at the contempt and arrogance that is coming out of TPP(A). They could have welcomed an open discussion to modernize copyright and patent laws across the globe to the benefit of many but no when this is only the demands of the few.

This is a very dangerous time where the very Internet is at stake and we should not let organizations ram through new laws so they can cut themselves a slice of control.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s funny, whenever I look at the people pushing for greater copyright restrictions for their own benefit and applauding copyright for boosting creativity it’s always the most uncreative people doing so.

Yes, copyrigth enables such original works suck as world war two FPS number #352425 and madden turndunken dinner 36.

Oh, and let’s not forget romeo and juliet the movie remake number #465.

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