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The Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs held a meeting on December 18 to iron out the government's proposal to ban private, unauthorized downloads of copyrighted material. The agency is an advisory body to the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. The agency's subcommittee voted to recommend revisions to article 30 of the country's Copyright Law so that unauthorized downloading would be outlawed.
The agency first proposed the amendment to the Copyright Law earlier this year. Under the current law, the government can prosecute people who upload without authorization. However, unlike in the United States and other countries, it is legal for people in Japan to download unauthorized material for private use. After issuing a request for public comments, the subcommittee received 7,500 responses. Makoto Kawase, the head of the agency's Copyrighted Work Circulation Promotion Department, said that it has never received this many comments for a proposed piece of legislation before. Even though Kawase noted that the vast majority of the public comments called for no change in the copyright law, Kawase said that revising article 30 is "inevitable."
The proposed revision is ostensibly aimed at downloaders, but there is concern that it will also affect the users of video streaming sites such as Japan's Nico Nico Douga and Google's YouTube. Streaming normally requires a copy of the video to be loaded onto the user's computer, albeit temporarily. It was also noted at the meeting that users might visit a site that happens to have unauthorized material, and therefore run afoul of the revised law without realizing it.
Thank you to enjin2000 for the news tip.
Source: IT Media News
Update: The sentence about Nico Nico Douga and YouTube has been rewritten to clarify their legal status in regards to this proposal. Thanks, enjin2000.