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Anime Government Japan Piracy The Courts Your Rights Online

Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties 286

eldavojohn writes "Although downloading songs without paying for them in Japan used to be a civil offense starting in 2010, it is now a crime with new penalties of up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen ($25,700). The lobbying group behind this push for more extreme penalties is none other than the RIAJ (the Japanese RIAA). The BBC notes this applies to both music and video downloads which may put anime studios in a particularly uncomfortable position."
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Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties

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  • by vovick ( 1397387 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:58AM (#41512227)

    Yes, and IMO this is pretty much the reason for such high penalties. Every now and then when someone gets actually caught it makes a sensation in the news.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:03AM (#41512277)

    WTF is open source music?

    Are you mandating that the sheet music be made available?

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:09AM (#41512311) Homepage Journal

    I knew the first post was you, but posting an AC reply with "quite frankly" in it makes it even more obviously. You're basically a bit for the RIAA and/or companies that think exactly like them.

    Are you trying to suggest that Mac users don't pirate, or that there aren't a lot of Mac users out there? You are insane.

  • Re:Why would it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:27AM (#41512435) Journal

    Indeed - and it's no secret that the anime industry (both the Japanese creators and Western distributors) has often used levels of overseas piracy to determine which titles are worth licensing for release in the US/Europe.

    It's not a foolproof method - it backfired badly during the industry-crash in the middle of the last decade when a lot of companies found that there are certain titles that people are just not going to walk up to a shop-counter with in the US or London, even though they'll nab them happily enough from a torrent. However, it can generally be a good way of spotting whether a title and/or similar titles are worth a subtitled streaming release, a physical DVD/BD release or potentially a fancy special edition box.

    But yes, there's the reverse importation problem - and this is as relevant to gaming as it is for anime. For whatever reason, Japanese buyers of anime and video games are content to get ripped off to an utterly eye-watering degree. The "old" system for anime releases in the West was to set a price point of $30/£20 per volume of 4-5 episodes. These days, US/EU distributors struggle to get away with that model for all but the very biggest of releases (Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the most recent example I can think of) - it's more normal to get volumes of 13 or so episodes, for not much more than $40/£25 per volume. Meanwhile in Japan, that $40 equivalent gets you a volume containing... two episodes. The situation is broadly similar on games, where prices for many titles (particularly Japanese-developed ones) are utterly eye-watering in Japan.

    Now if you've got a market that's willing to play along with prices like that, you're going to do everything you can to protect it - and that means doing whatever you can to block reverse importation. So yes, most Western (legal) streaming sites block Japanese IP addresses.

    In the gaming sphere, Nintendo insist on full region locking (probably due to their Apple-style paternalist, authoritarian culture). Sony make it very hard to release region locked games on their console - there's only been one region locked PS3 game to date (Persona 4: Arena - and a worthy target for a boycott if ever there was one). But the 360... the 360 is more interesting. Microsoft neither ban nor mandate region locking; they leave it up to the publisher to decide (and don't lock the games they publish themselves). If you look at the trend for region locking on 360 games, while you can always find a few exceptions, a large of US releases will work on European consoles and vice versa, but very, very few will work on Japanese consoles. This at least partly explains why so many of the smaller Japanese developers have been willing to go the 360-exclusivity route during this console generation, despite the 360's poor installed base in Japan.

  • Re:Somewhat fair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zimluura ( 2543412 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:30AM (#41512465)

    I used to be strictly anti-copyright-infringement, but when I learned how these **AAs buy laws from my politicians. And then look at my relatively small disposable income (not nearly enough to buy politicians), well, that's when I started to feel maybe it's time for some civil disobedience. It's at least time to not give the **AAs any more money.

    Free Culture []

  • by rogueippacket ( 1977626 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:33AM (#41512487)

    ... they will download the popular songs and not mine.

    That's like saying I'm going to get a free lunch from the soup kitchen down the street instead of paying at your restaurant. The onus is on you, the artist, to prove to me why I should spend the time seeking you out and why I should spend money on you. This has been true since the dawn of time, and blaming your customers for downloading what they like will not help you one bit. Oh yeah, and pick your allies carefully - don't think for a second that the major labels won't go out of their way to marginalize you the moment your business model starts biting into their sales.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:50AM (#41512645)

    Average kid downloads 1,000 songs that could have been purchased for $0.99 each, so studios lost $999 (artists even less). Average Chinese bootleg produces 100,000 CDs and studios lose $1.3M. Why not go after the real problem?

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @10:45AM (#41513239)

    If you make a market unviable by doing nothing to prevent infringement, piracy, etc etc, you are in effect giving the finger to people in that market segment.

    It would be sort of like if you refused to ever prosecute any store break-ins or shoplifting because "we dont want to ruin the kids' lives"; you are in effect ruining the livelyhood of storekeepers by making their business non-viable through not enforcing the law. (anyone who comments on theft vs infringement has utterly missed the point)

  • Re:Why would it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by s0nicfreak ( 615390 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @12:06PM (#41514081) Journal
    Now that there is Crunchyroll [] which attempts to license all new anime and legally stream it subbed the same day it airs in Japan, that whole "we're just doing what the companies won't, we'll drop it when it gets picked up in the US" thing doesn't fly anymore. Japanese companies want overseas internet watchers watching it through crunchyroll, where they're getting a cut. And when they don't license it to crunchyroll, they've usually got a reason, usually a license that they haven't announced yet.

    Also there's plenty of domestic problem with piracy nowadays. The piracy of anime in Japan is often driven more than it is overseas due to the fact that in Japan, most anime never reruns; if you miss an episode or want to watch something again, a lot of the time your only legal option is buying the DVD. Since overseas there is now a legal, replayable option that is easier than piracy and even works on cellphones, which can be watched for free if you're willing to watch some commercials and wait a couple days for new episodes (which you were going to do anyway for a fansub) the tables have turned.

    Most subbing sites ban Japanese IPs because they think it covers their asses, not as some good-will gesture. I use to be involved with several fansub groups. And there was a time when they were doing it for the right reasons. But the world has changed now.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @01:03PM (#41515023)

    That's not at all what's happening.

    It's not a direct subsidy, but it is a subsidy. Artists could not make money selling content if it were not for the government. The same effect could be achieved by taxing everyone who buys a music player and then redistributing the money according to popularity. This is how ASCAP works, for instance. That is more or less a direct subsidy - the government allows a private entitiy to levy a "tax" and then redistribute it to the songwriters. If you object to my use of the word subsidy, I'll refrain from using it and use a word you would prefer - it is immaterial to the discussion.

    No, a songwriter does have something of value, it's just that, without copyright, he has something of low **MARKET** value.

    I'm not really interested in getting THAT philosophical. Music is obviously important to humans in some non-financial way. Hell, we value it enough to have this crazy copyright system in place. But you can't eat music, you can't gas your car with it, and the only way to get people to pay for it directly (in certain formats) is to have the government enforce the "value" in monetary terms. Of course, it has always had financial value in non-subsidized formats. People paid to see Mozart live. People paid him substantial amounts to teach them how to play. He made a living. But he made very little on CDs :)

    equivalent of a store owner trying to sell *valuable* products, but where all the customers find it so easy to steal stuff from the store that everything has a *market* value of zero

    That would be a very short-term situation. Once the shop is emptied, the goods would be worth what they were (or even more) than when the looting started. An MP3 has very little, if any, intrinsic value - though again, in certain circumstances, people will pay for music naturally. A jukebox is a good example. People who steal music rather than pay $1 on iTunes will feed a dollar into a jukebox to hear a song once without even blinking.

    Laws against shoplifting and enforcement raises the value of those products up near their proper value.

    You have it backwards. Laws keep prices low, because the shop owner doesn't need to hire people to protect his goods. Can you imagine what it would cost to keep a store like Walmart protected in total anarchy? It wouldn't even be feasible. The cost of simple goods would skyrocket, if you could get them at all.

    I think you could - just as legitimately - argue that shoplifting laws are a "government subsidy" for businesses.

    I think it is commonly considered a basic function of government to keep the peace. If the government put a cop in stores to prevent shoplifting, I'd agree - but having a law on the books that makes it illegal to steal is pretty basic stuff, and it helps everyone who owns anything. The reason you need laws specific to shoplifting is to handle the special case of this public/private space. Anyway, it is hard to generalize since the laws are different everywhere; I'm sure there are jurisdictions where the laws do act as a subsidy.

    You seem to have a negative connotation associated with "subsidy". I do not. I like it when a community revitalizes the downtown by dressing it up and lowering taxes and such - an obvious subsidy. I even like the basic premise of copyright law - though I think it should involve much shorter time periods and probably only involve commercial use.

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