Try all methods to defend publishers from damage by piracy websites

Try all methods to defend publishers from damage by piracy websites
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The Yomiuri Shimbun

The rampancy of websites hosting pirated content could hinder the development of the nation’s publishing culture. Various steps should be taken and no effort spared in the drive to get rid of these unscrupulous websites.

The Cultural Affairs Agency is considering revising the Copyright Law as a step to combat pirated content websites, which illegally display manga and magazines in digital form online.

The agency is planning to broaden the scope of illegal downloads punishable under the law, which have so far been restricted to music and visual images, to all copyrighted material, including manga. Operating a “leech website,” which guides users to websites hosting pirated content, also would be considered a copyright infringement, and penalties for violators will be established.

If content creators and publishing companies become unable to receive fair payment for their work because people can view it illegally on these websites, they won’t be able to support themselves through their creative activities. Should excellent works no longer be launched on the market, readers will also lose out.

Comic sales, after dropping noticeably in recent years, showed signs of recovery in 2018. Some observers have suggested this was due to factors such as the closure of major pirated content websites. The aim of legal revisions that clamp down on use of illegal websites is reasonable.

Of course, regulations that reduce ordinary internet use would be going too far. A panel of experts from the agency has presented a plan that would limit penalties to cases of unscrupulous action. It may be assumed this would include cases such as repeatedly downloading files. This is a sensible decision.

Educational efforts needed

An expert panel of the Cabinet Office discussed enacting legislation on “website blocking,” the forcible blocking of access to illegal websites, but it was unable to reach a conclusion. This was due to opinions opposed to such legislation because it could violate the “secrecy of any means of communication” guaranteed by the Constitution.

The viewing and acquisition of illegally provided data continues even today. It is vital for the government to work closely with the publishing industry and other parties to steadily implement countermeasures that can be taken.

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