Japanese Academics Issue The Tamest 'Emergency' Statement Over Proposed Copyright Amendment

from the take-a-breath dept

Recently, we discussed a proposed change to Japanese copyright law that would make literally all downloading of copyrighted material a criminal matter, rather than a civil one. This change would be fairly bonkers for an entire host of reasons. It has the potential to clog up the criminal courts with the same kind of minor copyright infringement cases that clog up America's civil courts. It would put a decisive chill on the sharing culture that brought the internet to its current state to begin with. And it would further the culture of ownership and protectionism already far too common across the globe.

And, as states an "emergency statement" issued by nearly a hundred Japanese academics, it would possibly criminalize the kind of personal copying that facilitates research, education, and personal growth.

In an ‘Emergency Statement’ signed by 87 academics, researchers, lawyers, and other experts, the government is urged to think again about the scope of the proposed legislation. Under the current proposals, the group believes that private copying could be rendered illegal, even to the extent of outlawing screenshots for private use.

“We believe that the limitation on the right of reproduction for private use purposes has the function of restricting the freedom of information gathering in the private domain. It is a legal foundation that supports the intellectual and cultural activities of individuals, and even Japanese industry,” the signatories write.

The group believes that the proposed legislation has been rushed through in a very short time (five meetings in three months), without carefully considering the consequences. They want the authorities to think again, to protect the public interest.

It's as timid a statement as could be offered. And it's one that essentially amounts to, "Whoa, guys, take a breath, because you don't know what you're about to do." Given the timeline on which this has occurred, it's a wholly reasonable request as well, given the enormous stake the public has and its nearly complete lack of a seat at the legislative table. The chill on both expression and research that this cluster-bomb law would have can't really be overstated, as the kind of personal copying that it would seek to criminalize has become essential to both.

And, to be clear, these academics aren't exactly against enforcing copyright laws generally, either.

Importantly, those calling for the proposals to be considered more closely appear to be broadly in favor of tightening up the law to protect rightsholders. However, there are serious concerns over the potential for collateral damage when even snippets of text could be criminalized.

To that end, they suggest amendments to the proposals to mandate that it’s only a crime to reproduce copyright works when the act causes real financial damage to content owners, in the case of those who pirate whole movies, music, manga publications, books, and so on.

If you're looking for a silver lining in all of this, perhaps one can be found in this being a perfect litmus test for how government that bows to moneyed interests will react to the most modest of requests against those interests. In other words, the academics in this case are essentially asking that the law eventually do only 90% of what it originally aimed to do.

If the Japanese government can't be bothered to take even that request seriously, then perhaps the public should give up on it entirely.

Filed Under: copyright, criminal copyright, japan


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:46pm

    Re: As usual, the trend keeps going the way that I want.

    As usual, the trend keeps going the way that I want.

    Except that it doesn't. Have you forgotten about SOPA and PIPA so soon? Especially in the US, there is more and more pushback against overly burdensome and stifling copyright laws. That is not to say that copyright does not have some value, just not in its current form.

    nearly every country in the world sees this as I do

    You mean legacy entertainment companies and their lobbyists do, and have managed to buy off politicians to push through the legislation they want. The actual majority of the world's population thinks your ideas on copyright are downright imbecilic. And they're right.

    creation gives the right to copy

    Wait, aren't you against copying?

    while you pirates are undesirable

    Ed Sheeran and all other indie artists say hi and say you're wrong and an idiot.

    apparently only way to stop you, since three decades of arguing hasn't, is to JAIL you.

    Oh yes, because JAILING THE PIRATES has worked out SO well for the last few centuries. Please do tell me how jailing the pirates of the high seas in past centuries brought a swift and decisive end to all piracy of the time. Piracy has existed since the beginning of the human race and will continue to exist and flaunt any law against it. Also, I'm not a pirate.

    Wish you were right, because that "current state" favors piracy by mindless couch pumpkins

    Man, you got nothing so you just insult the entire world's population? You really think you are more intelligent than the entire rest of the world? Also, the sharing culture is what led to the internet as it's known today. You may not like it but them's the breaks kid. I find it hilarious you think that is somehow not true.

    You kids were born into best time and place EVER in the world, with lots of leisure, gadgets, opportunity to learn and create, but all you do is complain that those people who DO create want to get a little money in return.

    Well yeah. Nobody is owed anything. Creating something does not automatically guarantee you some money. Though actually, with the rise of the internet, it sort of does because it's super easy to put stuff up on Youtube, Amazon, etc... and you're likely to make at least something since someone somewhere in the world will find it, like it, and buy it or watch your vids.

    But if you create crap guess what, no one buys it. I'm sorry you failed as an artist. Maybe try upping the quality of your work instead of showing how much of an idiot you are by railing against the universe?


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