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Japanese Government Expands Scope of Proposed Copyright Law Reforms

posted on by Karen Ressler
New proposal would ban screenshots of pirated media

A subcommittee of Japan's Council for Cultural Affairs agreed on a plan on Wednesday to create comprehensive laws banning the practice of knowingly downloading all illegal media from the internet.

Japan's Agency of Cultural Affairs already announced its plans to propose laws and penal sentences against downloading manga, magazines, novels, essays, and photographs. Current laws only punish the consumer of pirated media in cases where the media in question is music or video, so the proposed revisions would expand the current laws.

Wednesday's meeting saw further delineation of the scope of the proposed revisions. Downloading anime images, illustrations, and photographs that have been illegally posted to personal blogs and Twitter accounts would also be illegal, as would copying and pasting song lyrics. The laws would not be limited to directly downloading images themselves — taking screenshots of illegally uploaded media would also be against the new laws.

The subcommittee acknowledged the difficulty in enforcing such laws, as they would target acts that are part of many people's daily lives, so the meeting saw calls to limit enforcement to cases where the need is high to fend off piracy. These cases may include those where an entire manuscript is downloaded, where someone is guilty of repeated offenses, or when real harm is done to the copyright holder. The Agency of Cultural Affairs will continue to narrow down the requirements.

As previously announced, the proposal will also target "leech sites" that aggregate and provide hyperlinks to pirated media.

The Agency of Cultural Affairs is proposing the new revisions to the currently open session of the Japanese Diet. The government held a public input period from early December to early January. If approved, revisions expected to take affect next year at the earliest. Under the proposed revisions, the penalty can be up to two years prison time or up to a 2 million yen (about US$17,740) fine.

Source: Asahi Shimbun via Nijimen

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