Imagine this. While listening to your favourite song, you search the web for the lyrics, copy a few lines, and post them to your social media accounts. You love the song so much, you want to share it with others. It’s harmless fun, right? But would doing so make you a criminal?According to proposed changes to Japan’s copyright law, the answer would be yes. Japan has already enacted strict copyright laws on more pirated sites and leech websites. This means that websites that provide hyperlink and torrent download will also be targeted.

The law revision came as the country saw a rising number of websites that illegally streamed anime. The new law is as followed- If an individual is caught streaming anime or manga, the user will have to face two years in prison and also have to pay a fine of 2 million yen (18k USD). Also this new law bans the establishment of illegal sites and leech websites. This is a very strict move taken by the Japanese Government. The proposed changes, which are being considered by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA) and were first presented in a bill at a meeting on February 13, are primarily intended to combat the online piracy of works such as manga, given that both manga artists and publishers suffer when these works are pirated.

Japanese manga culture has been around for decades. With the immense growth comes piracy. In the face of technology, the digitalization of comics gave birth to a new audience that saw piracy as the easiest way to read their favourite titles. But this also comes at the cost of the manga artists and the industry that produces these works. Piracy continues to be an issue in the creative industry as it depreciates the work that goes behind the creation of content. The loss of revenue that results from such piracy is what first brought the issue to notice, the law revision was introduced as the country saw a rise in the number of piracy and leech websites, primarily the Mangamura site, which had around 100 million hits per month before it was taken down in April 2018, causing an overall loss of more than ¥300 billion($2.75 billion) to its customers and publishers. These illegal websites have always been a big issue for legal authorities. These website hugely impact box office and paid subscription streaming channels.
One of the most well known illegal website that every otaku knows and loved was called ‘KissAnime’. However, this site was recently taken down under the copyright laws of Japan. It was officially taken down on August 14 2020 at around 10:00 pm. Later KissAnime released a statement in their official discord channel that read “All flies were taken down by copyright owners. KissAnime and KissManga will be closed forever. Thank you for all these years”

As of last November, there were more than 500 piracy websites featuring manga and photo books targeting Japanese viewers, with the top 10 sites getting some 65 million hits a month. Seven of them provided download links, according to Publishers PR Centre.
Loopholes remain, however, as videos showing copyrighted items in the form of a picture-story show or provision of such materials through streaming are not covered by the revised law as they do not involve downloading data to devices. A site-blocking measure to forcibly deny access to certain websites is also difficult to implement in Japan, as it requires subscribers’ access data and could violate the privacy of communication. “There’s a limit to what Japan can do on its own. International coordination and cooperation in investigations are indispensable,” a government source said.

– Assam Senpai Society

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