Japan is intensifying its war of anime and manga piracy. One of Japan’s most trusted newspapers, the Mainichi, has reported that Japanese parliament has already enacted a revised anti-online piracy law. This new law would “tighten copyright control, banning illicit downloading of manga, magazines and academic texts, in addition to music and videos that were already covered by the existing legislation.”
This new law would also regulate “leech websites” which provide users with hyperlinks to download torrent files of pirated materials. Of course, these often include torrents for manga chapters, anime episodes, and full versions of feature-length anime movies. According to the Mainichi, the download ban will take effect on January 1, 2021, while the Leech Site restrictions will take effect on Octorber 1, 2020.
Parliament decided to revise the law after a rise in piracy and leech sites. These include the infamous Mangamura website which went down last April 2018. It was estimated that publishers lost around 300 billion yen to Mangamura alone. The site hosted pirated and unauthorized copies of various popular manga, such as One Piece and Attack on Titan.
But there are a few exceptions in the new revision though. There are a few that they dubbed “exempted ‘minor offenses’ and ‘special instances’ from being categorized as illicit amid concerns that excessive restrictions could hinder internet use and freedom of expression.” These include downloading only a few frames from a comic book of several dozen pages and a couple of pages from a novel containing several hundred pages. Parodies and cases where “smartphone users unintentionally captured copyrighted publications in their screenshot” are also exempted as well. Penalties for offenders will get them up to two years prison time, as well as a fine of 2 million yen.
The establishment and operation of leech sites will now also be banned in this new law. Pasting hyperlinks of illegal websites on an anonymous message board, or providing “leech apps” for similar purposes are also going to be banned. Those who break this law will face up top five years imprisonment and up to 5 million yen in fines.
Mangamura reportedly shut down voluntarily in 2018. After it shut down, several mangaka reported huge jumps in the sales of their works. Japan has been stepping up its anti-piracy campaign lately, and big publishers like Shogakukan have also launched their own campaigns as well. And in addition to Mangamura’s closure, Japanese police also arrested five Chinese nationals tied to anime and manga piracy.
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