Urk. I've always resisted (sometimes illogically), the characterization of Japan as a backwards country ruled by out-of-touch old people and shady corporate special interests. After all, it's easy shorthand for "Crazy Japan" stereotypes and toxic ignorance. But every so often Glorious Nippon severely tests that "Glorious" part, and proves the characterization distressingly accurate. This is one of those times.
Japan's government has just passed a law that would outlaw the act of "ripping" copyrighted material of any kind to users' computers, and the knowing downloading of such material from any internet source. Naturally, this is targeted towards folks who record TV shows and DVDs/Blu-rays for sharing, archiving, and of course piracy. Punishment ranges from hefty fines to jail time. The law goes into effect this October.
But wait, there's more. The broad, vague wording of the law opens the potential to prosecute users with the temerity to view copyrighted material on such innocuous sites as Youtube and NicoNico Douga, because those sites upload data to users' computers. And it potentially covers international viewers of Japanese copyrighted material. What's more, analysts suggest that the law could be used to suppress material that the government finds uncomfortable, such as footage of the recent arrest of Aum cultist. Incredible! It's like a copyright-protecting version of the infamous "anti-loli" law passed by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara.
This bears all the hallmarks of a law written by fearful companies and legislators who would rather destroy that which they don't understand and can't adapt to.
Of course, natural challenges over enforcement, scope and freedom of speech will rise up, but it seems farfetched that the Japanese public will muster the kind of intense resistance that Americans raised over SOPA and PIPA.
Oh, you old, narrow-minded, short-sighted, greedy morons.
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