Come October, Don’t Use YouTube In Japan

Come October, Don’t Use YouTube In Japan

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.

The Effects:

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]


  • Remember the word ‘potential’
    People love the idea of evil government controlling the innocent public. I think this issue is blown way out of proportion.
    If one was to check out our copyright protection in Aus, UK and USA, no one would be allowed to host parties, weddings, and other events with music, movies, video games etc. or potentially face prison time.

  • Aa someone who lived in Japan, I don’t doubt that some old men with empires to protect take this game very seriously. And they will try to enforce this stuff. The questions are:
    – how hard will ISPs resist the monitoring? Will it be a classically Japanese ‘oversight’when they fail to facilitate the policing of this? Or will the goverment bodies learn on them heavily enough that they fall in line? With the economy not going great shakes thesedays, dont be surprised if people try to sweep noncompliant use under the rug.
    – How will the video industry react? Right now, though it’s illegal to rent games, they rent DVDs and music CDs in thousands of shops across the country, next to stacks of blank CDs and DVDs at the counter. Are these stores going to be put under pressure? Just who’s going to enforce it? And if you can no longer rip your own stuff, WHO is going buy CDs when they store so little?
    and so on.

    And Tom, if you think you can compare Japan to western nations on this one, don’t forget that this is a country where doing as you’re told is MUCH more common, regardless of the common sense factor. The question will be on how hard the (usually non-reactive, non-political) younger generation decides to push back against this wave.

    And the sad part is it’s a death knell for Japanese producers. They need to do what they did with Crunchyroll more: facilitate streaming in reasonably priced models. Trying to defend the old ways is literally burning your ship whilst out at sea. Kids these days get their media in a variety of formats and that doesn’t include the radio. Japan will literally donkey punch its Entertainment industry in the face by trying to police these laws.

    Oh, and let’s not forget: streaming is still downloading! It doesn’t matter if you define it as saving a file or not, the download still occurs. I’m not sure if the various Youtube clip-saving software leaves a digital trace or not; but if it doesn’t, and you aren’t going to police mere Youtube ‘watchers’whoinnocently don’t realise streaming is downloading, you’re really going to have no effect at all.

    Fascinating topic, but also facepalm inducing.

  • So, if you are in Japan, just use a VPN to hide your activities. VPN traffic cannot be analysed, monitored, cracked, or sniffed

  • I’m sure the Japanese government will backed down from this law if a massive protest occurs.

  • I’m no expert, yet, but surely this does not mean that YouTube, or other similar sites, will be illegal, only the viewing of copyrighted content, which is against the YouTube terms of service anyway. So surely by using YouTube to watch something like Smosh would not be punishable under this? Sounds like it’s just an actual reaction to piracy, which is appluadable. Especially considering this targets those who are doing the wrong thing, not the owners of the site who are doing nothing wrong.

    But, as I said, I’m no expert and could be totally wrong

    • The YouTube terms of service does not prohibit the viewing of copyrighted content, just the posting of it.

      • The problem is the punishment of those who intentionally view illegally-posted content. Youtube doesn’t have a review system prior to publishing, meaning that unless you report the viewed material yourself, you’re potentially liable as a criminal viewer. Additionally, protected content might be a lot more than you suspect it to be.

        And we all know from Greenpeace what happens in Japan if you acquire illegal goods with the intention of reporting them.

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