Japanese Government Plans to Ask Net Providers to Block Unauthorized Manga Sites

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda & Crystalyn Hodgkins
CODA: piracy inflicted 400 billion yen worth of damage to Japanese copyright holders from September-February

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported on Friday that the Japanese government plans to ask Internet providers in Japan to block unauthorized manga sites that upload manga, magazines, and other content and make them available for viewing without the respective copyright holders' permission. The report added that the government will hold an anti-crime cabinet meeting, with an official announcement expected within the month.

According to the report, the government plans to name three pirate websites, two of which are supposedly operated from China and other countries, and that despite regulations and investigation by authorities, the sites can still be viewed and browsed from Japan.

The Mainichi Shimbun's report noted that there is no clear legal precedent for asking providers to block access to the websites, and that the move may prove unconstitutional due to violating privacy of communication and functioning as censorship. Article 21 of The Constitution of Japan states, "Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated."

The government, however, plans to use the argument that pirated content harms publishers and content creators, and that the site-blocking would be allowed under the "averting present danger" article of Japan's Penal Code.

According to the report, the hit counts on the three pirated sites has increased since last August when the sites became more well known. Sales of digital comics in Japan began to drop in the same month, after seeing a steady rise since 2012. Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) has told the government that between September 2017 and February, piracy has inflicted an estimated amount of more than 400 billion yen (about US$3.72 billion) worth of damage to copyright holders in Japan.

The government is also considering a law against "leech sites," which aggregate and provide links to other sites that host pirated content.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (pictured above right) also announced at a press conference on March 19 that the government is considering all possible ways to combat manga pirate sites, including site blocking.

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun (link 2, Katsuya Takahashi), The Mainichi via Hachima Kikō

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