Japan's Stricter Copyright Law on Downloaded Manga, Magazines Goes Into Effect in 2021
posted on by Adriana Hazra
Japan's parliament enacted the proposed revised copyright law on Friday to expand the law to punish those who knowingly download illegally uploaded or pirated manga, magazines, and academic works. The revised law will go into effect on January 1. The revision also bans "leech sites" that aggregate and provide hyperlinks to pirated media starting on October 1.
A Japanese cabinet meeting approved the proposed bill on March 10. Previously, the copyright law only formalized punishment for downloads of illegally uploaded music and videos, as well as illegal uploads of all materials.
The revision will still allow for the downloading of a "few frames" from a manga of several dozen pages or more, or posting photographs where the manga is not the focus of the photo (for example, appearing in reflections). The revision will also not punish people who download derivative works (such as dōjin or fan fiction) or parodies.
Penalties for repeat offenders of illegal downloads will be up to two years in jail or a maximum fine of 2 million yen (about US$18,274), or both. Penalties for those operating leech sites include up to five years in jail or a maximum fine of 5 million yen (about US$45,686), or both.
Also banned will be the pasting of hyperlinks to illegal websites on anonymous message boards, or creating "leech apps."
A subcommittee of Japan's Agency of Cultural Affairs agreed on a plan in February 2019 to create comprehensive laws banning the practice of knowingly downloading all illegal media from the internet. However, that plan caused concerns as critics argued the tighter regulations would be too broad and hinder the freedom of expression of internet users. The Agency of Cultural Affairs then revealed the draft of a plan, which contained exceptions for screenshots, to a panel of experts on November 27 to discuss the proposed changes.