Japanese Government Holds Conference on TPP's Effects on Comiket
posted on by Eric Stimson
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement under negotiation among 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, will standardize intellectual property laws. In Japan, this includes reclassifying copyright infringement as a crime that can be prosecuted without the victim's consent. In Japan, it is currently a shinkokuzai, or a crime that can only be prosecuted if the victim files charges.
On May 15, the Japanese government held a conference in Tokyo to discuss the TPP and made reference to its effects on Japan's dōjin culture. Assistant Secretary Kazuhisa Shibuya acknowledged that negotiations on intellectual property laws were "difficult" and singled out negative effects on Comiket as an issue the government was trying to address. Comiket currently exists in a gray zone, since while dōjinshi are technically against the law, most creators tacitly consent to their production and sale.
Anime fan reaction to the briefing session was mixed. Many were outraged, claiming that the laws would destroy an important part of fan culture, and called for protests.
"If both the participants and the business side are fine with it, it's not a problem for outsiders to butt into," one said. Others saw the laws as helpful, claiming that Comiket had become too commercialized and reaffirming the importance of copyright protection.
"It'd be all right if future dōjin activities were only posted for free on the Web," said one. Still others noted that regulation would push dōjin only towards those genres the copyright holders approved of. Some were merely surprised that the government would mention Comiket in a public setting.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership will include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Ken Akamatsu has been vocally opposed to its copyright provisions. The trade pact has also encountered stiff resistance from Democratic lawmakers in the U.S.