On June 5. 2020, Japan’s parliament enacted a revised anti-online piracy law to tighten copyright control. It involved banning illicit downloading of manga, magazines, and academic texts, in addition to music and videos that were already covered by the existing legislation. This was already a big sign they were harsh about anime & manga piracy.
The law also includes “leech websites” that provide users hyperlinks to download torrent files of pirated materials. The ban on illegal downloading will take effect on January 1. 2021. Restrictions on leech sites will come into effect on October 1. 2021. The revision came as the country saw a rising number of piracy and leech websites. They have been disabling some of the biggest ones since 2018.
The new law also bans establishment and operation of leech sites. This includes pasting hyperlinks of illegal websites on an anonymous message board, as well as providing “leech apps” for similar purposes. Those found to be operating a leech website will face up to five years in jail, a maximum fine of ¥5 million, or both.
Last year, the government tried to submit a similar anti-online piracy bill to a parliamentary session. However, it shelved it after receiving a lot of backlash from manga artists and experts. It is because they said the planned controls were far too broad and could hinder legitimate activities, such as research. As of last November, there were more than 500 piracy websites featuring manga and photo books targeting Japanese viewers. Top 10 sites were getting around 65 million hits a month. Seven of them provided download links, according to Publishers PR Center.
“There’s a limit to what Japan can do on its own. International coordination and cooperation in investigations are indispensable,” a government source said.
The recently started AnimeLog YouTube channel is potentially another legal means to provide anime to fans who can’t afford to pay subscriptions. Or to those who live in region locked countries. Sadly, it still hasn’t gotten any English versions and its catalog is unclear at this point. It is a step towards a possible solution of course, but many international fans will not have a way to watch anime if all the illegal sites get taken down before the channel becomes a viable source. Obviously there is no guarantee for that though. Similar projects failed in the past, which is why many are skeptical about this one. You can read my opinion on that. Long story short, I think it is unrealistic a free way with every anime will come to existence. Even a paid one will be hard to accomplish due to all the licencing deals. Just my opinion.
Some guess that this is to help animators because of the current situation. However, they have been trying to do this for years. The Japanese anime industry’s market size has gone over ￥2,000,000,000,000 (≒$18.8billion). This means it is more likely that there are other reasons why animators are not paid properly. Reasons which have nothing to do with piracy. (Such as not enough budget being assigned to studios by the production committees.) Additionally, with a lot of shows being “exclusive” to different companies, it is getting harder for people to follow all their favorite shows. It’s unclear how the banning anime & manga piracy will affect the medium overall. A way to support animators is the Animator Dormitory project. They are raising money to make their own studio. You can read more information on their funding page.
Regardless, we always support the official releases. Although this will be hard on many, we hope they come to an agreeable solution for everyone soon.
[Source: The Japan Times]