Pay Attention To Japan’s Creepy SOPA-Style Copyright Law
With PIPA and SOPA still fresh in the minds of Americans of all stripes who aren’t fabulously wealthy conglomerates but would like to be able to use the Internet without fear of arrest, it shouldn’t come as surprise that the bad guys continue to concoct evil schemes designed to turn the Internet into the personal property of private business. The latest such effort appears to have been successful, as via Kotaku comes news of a creepy new law set to take effect this October in Japan, that could, possibly, effectively ban Youtube and sites like it from their shores.
The law in question isn’t quite as bad as SOPA and PIPA, but only in the same way skin cancer isn’t as bad as pancreatic cancer. It forbids the consumer from ripping and copying copy-protected and encoded materials like DVDs and games in any way, even for personal use (yes, even mix CDs are now illegal). Software and hardware designed to get around copy protections and other restrictions can no longer be sold. And naturally, the ‘intentional’ downloading of illegally uploaded material is a big no no (just how they know something is intentional or not isn’t clear).
So what happens if a Japanese person makes a mix for their significant other? They could, if caught, get 2 years in prison, and/or a ¥2,000,000 fine. That seems kind of extreme for not paying for an Mp3, but then, we know how important it is to ensure that the average citizen knows his or her place. Leniency is, after all, only for people who trash the economy and commit war crimes. But it gets worse. As written, the law apparently extends not to activity in Japan, but to the activity of Japanese people anywhere in the world. Which means a Japanese citizen in Britain who watches Youtube or some other proscribed service could find themselves in hot water upon returning home, assuming they’re being watched by the copyright secret police.
This law goes into effect October 1. It seems like a done deal, particularly because of the sneaky way they government passed it, but 4 months is plenty of time to fight it. If you speak Japanese or have ties to Japan, now might be the time to see what you can do to help. Remember folks, laws like this don’t just affect the countries in which they’re passed; they’re part of a coordinated, worldwide effort by giant copyright holders to finally make the Internet their private property, and we consumers nothing more than tenants, living at the pleasure of our social betters. Stand with Japan on this one, because we know they’re going to try this again in the US sooner than we think.
For more, check out this post on IT Media (warning: Hilarious Google Translate).