Japanese parliamentarians approved a legislative amendment to tackle manga hacking, The main measures will come into force in 2021.
As in the rest of the world, Japan has over the years evolved its legislation to adapt to the new practices of Internet users when they infringe copyright. In 2012, the country decided to punish Internet piracy more severely by specifically targeting the exchange of films and music. Eight years later, it is now the turn of manga to be the subject of legislative attention.
In the Japanese parliament, reports the Japan Times website, deputies approved a revision of the law against illegal downloading to include manga, magazines and academic materials on 5 June. The new provisions will come into force in two stages: first on 1 October 2020 and then on 1 January 2021.
UP TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON
In concrete terms, a Japanese Internet user who violates the new legislation by downloading manga will face a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine of nearly 16,000 euros (2 million yen). These are ceilings: not all cases that will be prosecuted will result in prison sentences or such heavy fines.
However, these new penalties include some exceptions, so as not to send too many people to court. Clearly, downloading a few pages of manga or a novel will not be punishable by law, although there will inevitably be some debate about what a handful of pages represents, especially in relation to the size of the entire work.
The new law also intends to attack sites that do not host anything themselves, but provide links or indexes to sites that contain pirated content. For the operators of these spaces, the law provides for up to 5 years in prison and a fine of nearly 40,000 euros. The sharing of links on forums and the development of dedicated applications are also targeted.
In the USA and France too, manga piracy can be severely prosecuted. The intellectual property code classifies these illegal downloads as counterfeit and they can lead to a three-year prison sentence and a 300,000 euro fine (five years in prison and a 5000,000 euro fine in an organized gang). However, these ceilings have never been reached for an individual.