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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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Gastric Dis-Tress - Hair Cut While You Dine, 21 Feb 2019 @ 7:48pm

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

    Why is that? Just this once consider that nearly every country in the world sees this as I do: creation gives the right to copy, while you pirates are undesirable, and apparently only way to stop you, since three decades of arguing hasn't, is to JAIL you.

    a decisive chill on the sharing culture that brought the internet to its current state

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


    [Screen name recalls my time in LA. The novel time-saving format did not catch on even in the go-go 80s.]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:16pm

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

      No, that isn't what 99% of us complain about at all. But yeah, it will be awesome when no one ever quotes a sentence of a work ever again, under the theory that is millions of dollars in loss to a creator (I mean, a rights-holding entity).

      No one gives a fuck about your clever time in LA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:12pm

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

        Wow, someone thinks they speak for more than just them.

        I couldn't care less about the ability to quote others' works, since I usually just create my own. I also don't care if people quote my work as long as they don't steal it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:14pm

          Quoting someone’s work is technically “stealing” it — or at least part of it — if you believe copyright infringement is theft.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 12:39am

            Re:

            Quoting is not stealing if you give reference to author and it is not associated with a commercial effort of your own without permission.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:04am

              Re: Re:

              You say that like copyright holders have some modicum of restraint and consideration for fair use.

              Your attitudes, as well as that of the other critics of this site, suggest that you'd rather such considerations didn't exist so you can use litigation as a secondary, if not superior form of income.

              Screw that.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 4:25am

              Quoting is not stealing if you give reference to author and it is not associated with a commercial effort of your own without permission.

              “Get that weak shit off my track!”

              Look, I quoted a movie without providing a citation for what movie the quote is from and who said the line. Does that act of copyright infringement — and to be clear, my quoting that film is an act of copyright infringement — make me a thief?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              cpt kangarooski, 22 Feb 2019 @ 6:06am

              Re: Re:

              Quoting isn’t stealing at all, ever. And it’s generally not copyright infringement either. But the commercial aspect is not that important.

              In the US, at least, for-profit news periodicals can quote from copyrighted sources, for-profit reviewers can include clips of the things they review, etc. Somlong as it isn’t so excessive that the story or review is an actual substitute (see The Nation case), it’s fine.

              As for credits, not actually required under the law, though it is good practice.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Vishnu, 24 Feb 2019 @ 10:32am

              Re: Re:1500

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:18pm

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

          Well except you and the copyright industry want to make it theft to even LINK to someone's work without paying for it first, never mind quoting it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:42pm

      Re: Why you still here bro?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:58pm

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

      It also favors creators such as Jim Sterling, Lindsay Ellis, CinemaSins, CinemaWins (yes there is a difference), Bob “MovieBob” Chipman, and countless other video essayists who tackle criticism and critique of pop culture and media by using audio and video from the original media as part of those essays. And it also favors “meme culture” and communities such as Imgur and Reddit. And it favors even this site, since we can quote movies and TV shows and song lyrics without being sued into oblivion. For all your bitching and complaining and kindergarten-level whining about “piracy”, you fail to realize just how much of a role copying and toying around with existing pieces culture — copyrighted or not — is how we get new pieces of culture. Copyright maximalism would destroy that by turning any conceivable instance of infringement into a crime punishable by whatever extreme sentence you can think of.

      How far do you intend to take your crusade — and what will you do if that crusade comes around to bite you on your ass?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:09pm

        Re:

        CinemaSins is an interesting example. I think they should have to license the works and maybe they have some type of permission.

        Many have lost a lot to piracy, and this is why you're seeing such stern measures being adapted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:22pm

          Re: Re:

          CinemaSins is an interesting example. I think they should have to license the works and maybe they have some type of permission.

          CinemaSins is an example of a work created using existing cultural works under the principles of Fair Use. Watching an “episode” of CinemaSins is not an equivalent experience to watching whatever film that said “episode” mocks. And any given “episode” of CinemaSins would be pretty goddamn boring to watch if it could not use bits of the original film — quotes, audio, video — as part of a broader commentary about that film.

          What you fail to understand is this: Media criticism and critique such as CinemaSins, CinemaWins, MovieBob’s “Really That Good” series, and videos from YouTube channels such as Pop Culture Detective and Nando v Movies would suffer greatly if any of the people behind those videos had to “ask permission” to use even the tiniest fraction of the original work they are commenting on. Rather than being able to discuss and present ideas and themes and interpretations on creative works with any kind of freedom and timeliness, those video essayists would be held back by the whims of the major movie studios. Their work is reliant on the principles of Fair Use; to destroy those principles because someone might say something mean about a given creative work (I’m sure the crew behind Pixels would love to rip MovieBob a new asshole or twenty for his review of that movie) is to destroy a shitload of protected speech because a corporation or two said such speech should be destroyed.

          Many have lost a lot to piracy

          What, and how much, has a corporation lost to the kind of “piracy” exhibited by CinemaSins?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:11pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            Failing to agree is not failing to understand. The tone of posters here like "we've already explained this to you" is ridiculously haughty, presuming nonexistent intellectual superiority.

            Pirates have forced the hands of governments by stealing entire works. If you don't like that they have indirectly caused all these problems, you should take that up with them.

            Anyone who came here to claim losses to piracy would just be ignored or called a liar. Of course, their work is important enough to steal, they actually make things, rather than take them.

            The more people are sympathetic to piracy, the more draconian the remedies are going to be.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The tone of posters here like "we've already explained this to you" is ridiculously haughty, presuming nonexistent intellectual superiority.

              It’s also the truth. I am among several other commenters, regular or otherwise, who have explained simple points of argument to you time and time again, only to watch as you intentionally ignore those explanations and act as if you never saw them. If you feel insulted by me or anyone else telling you that “we’ve already explained this to you”, that sucks for you. But a truth being harsh does not stop it from being the truth.

              Pirates have forced the hands of governments by stealing entire works. If you don't like that they have indirectly caused all these problems, you should take that up with them.

              I will take it up with governments who seek to punish and restrict lawful activities and creative works by tightening copyright laws, since their actions will not reduce or wipe out piracy by any significant margin.

              Anyone who came here to claim losses to piracy would just be ignored or called a liar.

              If someone claims losses that do not exist — potential losses are not actual losses — they should be ignored. If someone claims losses and offers no proof of those losses, they should be called a liar until they can offer said proof.

              their work is important enough to steal, they actually make things, rather than take them

              Copyright infringers such as Jim Sterling and Lindsay Ellis make video essays. Would you call what they do “stealing”?

              The more people are sympathetic to piracy, the more draconian the remedies are going to be.

              I sympathize not with “pirates”, but with the legit customers who face undue burdens from copyright restriction systems such as DRM that “pirates” do not face. After all, if a DRM server for a specific videogame goes down, a “pirate” can still play that game because their version lacks that restriction, but the paying customer is shit out of luck.

              And if you push for draconian remedies to copyright infringement, best be careful of your own ass — because you never know if the punishment you set out will be visited upon you.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That’s nice Jhon.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:33pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:Cake and the eating thereof

              “The more people are sympathetic to piracy, the more draconian the remedies are going to be”

              Reminds me about a quote about the French Revolution. Think you can help me out bro?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 12:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Enforcing current laws puts those pirates in trouble with law enforcement already. Do you really want new draconian laws to bring down the entire internet?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The more people are sympathetic to piracy, the more draconian the remedies are going to be.

              And how do you think people came to be sympathetic to piracy? It was because your side was not only found to be willing to sue children, grandmothers, army veterans, homeless people, computerless people, incorrectly named people, dead people and laser printers, your side even insisted that innocent people should be obliged to pay the demanded pound of flesh.

              People have been sympathetic since you screamed "Home Taping is Killing Music" decades ago, and people realized it wasn't true. You chose to sabotage your own credibility and honesty while harassing old women for your porn money.

              Get bent.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Vel the Enigmatic, 22 Feb 2019 @ 8:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              -or maybe the reason the posters here are taking that attitude is because they have. Time and time again. Instead of this little fantasy you've constructed where they haven't just because they refuse to give little to any concession on their view.

              All people like you are, is a "Fair Use is Theft" crowd.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:33am

          Re: Re:

          Right, these "losses" which you say are "easy to prove" and have yet to show any hint of them...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 7:49am

          Re: Re: defiance

          Go ahead no ones one is going to pay lol

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Valkor, 25 Feb 2019 @ 1:44pm

          Re: Re:

          You say "some type of permission" like that wouldn't an absolute veto power. You say that like movie studios wouldn't just get a giant rubber stamp that said "NO!" for any multimedia critique, under the assumption that it might risk profit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 3:09am

        Re:

        If a law mandating criminal courts handle normal filesharing and downloading ever passes the poor, soon-to-be-bankrupted nation to implement such a law will be looking at a bill of hosting prisoners which will exceed the actual BNP. And that's if less than 1% of the estimated pirates are ever prosecuted.

        At 30-60 k USD a year, an inmate is expensive. With 10-30% of the population suddenly adding that cost plus court expenses per head the idiot to suggest and implement said law won't be in office long.

        Not that bobmail ever cared to add two and two together - in his little fevered mind there are no limit on prisons and law enforcement nor will there be a public outcry when the cost to the public purse of prosecuting and sentencing filesharers suddenly exceeds the cost of every other crime in existence added together, by several orders of magnitude.

        This is why you can't take the copyright cult very seriously. They have spent so long believing imagination is the basis of the economy they can't even count anymore.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • 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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:32am

      Re:

      See, consider this for a moment.

      If criminalizing copyright enforcement was all it took to end piracy, why didn't the US simply do it if that was enough to serve as a punishment and deterrent?

      Given the history of copyright enforcement in the US and most countries, the answer is fairly clear: you're terrible at proving criminal copyright infringement. Your IP address harvesting tech is unproven and inaccurate, and the moment you get questioned about it you dismiss without prejudice and run like hell. Your standards of evidence can't stand up to scrutiny so you have to resort to threatening settlement letters to claim "legitimacy", away from the watchful eye of judges. There's also the fact that jailing pirates isn't as lucrative as fining them.

      Japan is an interesting case, mostly because they might actually get criminal copyright enforcement en masse to work, but not for the reasons you think. Japan's judicial system is absolutely fucked because they pride themselves on conviction rates, not accuracy. It's even been flagged by human rights organizations.

      The fact that your entire scheme relies on violating human rights says more about your operations than pirates ever could.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 7:46am

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

      “Is to jail you” Lol you been doing that for years boy. And you still lose

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:12pm

    Perhaps a little consideration of cultural context could help when labeling something as tame. Just a thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      Yeah, agreed. The whole tone of this piece seems pretty oblivious to the differences between Japanese and American culture.

      Politeness, deference, and trying not to offend are pretty fundamental to Japanese communication, and particularly professional communication. And that's before we even get into the point that this is, presumably, a translation, and that the statement probably wasn't originally written in English.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:55pm

    Copyright wasn't meant to be some "right" granted to the public by the content creator(s). It was a right granted by the public to the content creator(s) for time-limited use to allow for a reasonable profit from their work, whereupon all right of use would revert back to the public.

    That was the plan.

    No one ever created anything in a vacuum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:05am

      Re:

      "No one ever created anything in a vacuum."

      In fact, when Chris Hadfield literally played in the middle of a vacuum, it was a cover version of someone else' work...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonOps, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:58pm

    China laughs at your copyright proposals...

    The nail that sticks up gets hammered. The glass always half full of alcohol leads to getting hammered. Yet nothing about who's doing the hammering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 12:54am

      Re: China laughs at your copyright proposals...

      Who are you? Thor? What about the hammering of the beat of the oarsmen keeping the pirate ship moving just ahead of their pursuers? And what about, "Hammer time?"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:59am

    On the bright side at least those Japanese elders that want to retire to jail so as not to burden their families (horrible, horrible state of affairs) can now do so without having to leave to commit any dangerous crimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    edinjapan (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 4:44am

    Comiket

    And in one fell swoop the government just made cosplay, dojinshi culture and the twice yearly big Comiket meet illegal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 4:03pm

    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.

    You always ask for more and accept a little less. 90% is acceptable

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 5:44pm

    I think that’s a cultural difference. Japanese tend to be more roundabout.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2019 @ 6:39am

      Re:

      Indeed they are different, as strikes during lunch break, with workers standing outside the plant put pressure on the management.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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