While the Japanese public watched a cult leader get arrested, their leaders in government quietly made a move that could make watching YouTube illegal in Japan.
SOPA and PIPA are still rather fresh in people's memories. For those of you who don't know what SOPA and PIPA are, and yet are tech savvy enough to check our site, you've obviously been hiding under a rock the better half of last year (and can easily use the Google or some other search engine to research and get yourself up to date on how close the US got to a very terrible thing), or you're just browsing the internet for porn and stumbled on here by accident. Either way, you're either smart enough to already know (or if not, look up by yourself) pretty much all you need to know, or you're hopelessly clueless, in which case I really don't think I can help you in the limited space I have...
Anyways, SOPA and its evil twin PIPA were shelved indefinitely back in January thanks to the heroic level of protest by the public in the US. Sadly, other countries are not faring so well. Japan has recently passed a stricter revision to its copyright laws making, among other things, the download of illegally uploaded materials punishable by a prison sentence of less than 2 years and/or a fine of up to ¥2,000,000 (US$25,106).
While some could argue that this is a step in the right direction for Japan, which for the longest time had been fairly lax in the area of illegal downloading, some finer points of the revision are raising eyebrows. For one, while the Japanese media was churning over the capture of the last Aum cult member, (in fact almost the moment the story broke) the House of Representatives quietly passed the revision with virtually no coverage and almost no public announcement, leaving some to question the coincidental timing. Second, the revision was rushed through and passed without council or discussion. Members of the Ministry of Education who could potentially place a vote against the revision have been switched out so there is no opposition in place. Of the public, the only major group of people who are aware of what is going on are the 2-channel using sub-culturalites, a group often spoken of by the mass media as social outcasts and potential criminals and as such does not have much political swaying power in the public eye.
As to the actual effects of the revision, attorney at law, Toshimitsu Dan recently spoke on what Japan can look for in the future.
1. Ripping and copying of copy-protected and encoded materials like DVDs and games is no longer considered "for personal use" and is punishable.
2. The sale of software and hardware that circumvents copy protection and access protections is forbidden.
3. The intentional download of illegally uploaded materials is now punishable.
Basically, video sites like YouTube and Nico Nico Douga will potentially be targets for regulation in Japan. That, and/or anybody who uses those sites could face prison time. Not only that, but thanks to the arbitrary wording of the revision that leaves it wide open for abuse by the authorities, the law can even affect Japanese citizens outside the borders of Japan. Even a Japanese citizen in America who watches a video on YouTube could potentially be a target for criminal proceedings.
While not nearly as destructive or far-reaching as SOPA could potentially have been, the new copyright law revisions were born of the same mindset of a recording industry attempting to throw out the baby with the bathwater because they can't figure out the intricacies and complexity of modern day plumbing. Sadly, the Japanese public is not as well-informed or vocal as in the US. Come October 1st when the revision will come into effect, we can probably expect a string of arrests. *sigh*
違法ダウンロードに刑事罰・著作権法改正で何が変わるか 壇弁護士に聞く [ITmedia ニュース]