Posts Tagged: law

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It’s been almost one full year since Japan criminalized the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet. NHK looked at what has changed since October 1st, 2012, and it doesn’t look like anyone is reaping any rewards so far.

First, the obvious occurred: fewer people are using peer-to-peer file sharing software now. NHK reports that P2P users are down 40% this year vs last year.

However, the copyright holders got the government to pass that legislation in the hopes that more people would buy music, movies, etc, but there’s no evidence that’s happening.

NHK’s numbers are confusing here, but here they are: between October 2012 and June 2013, CD/DVD sales were up 5% over the same period a year earlier. BUT 2013 sales overall (through August) are down 7% compared to 2012.

One definite piece of bad news for the media companies: digital sales of music are way down, 24% lower between October 2012 and June 2013 than the previous year.

Kenji Takasugi, managing director of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, claims that rentals are up (neither he nor NHK supports this with figures) but even he admits that no one’s buying music like they used to. Remember that whenever you read stories about the success of AKB48: those insane sales figures are driven by fans buying CDs by the caseload for the giveaways inside, then throwing the discs away.

While I’m sure the loathsome creator/owner of the AKB franchise is laughing all the way to the bank, everyone else in Japan is wondering how to get people to spend money on music. And so far, “punish people who download it” isn’t the answer they hoped for.

My crazy, crazy suggestion: find a way to sell CDs for less than $15 and movies for less than $20, because your plan thus far of doubling (or even TRIPLING) those prices hasn’t paid off.

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A nameless Osaka transit employee who stood up for his rights in the face of an intrusive survey was vindicated this week when a district court ruled in his favor and found the city’s tattoo survey is unconstitutional. The city tried to fire him when he refused (repeatedly) to disclose whether or not he has tattoos.

Why tattoos? Japan still has this perception that tattoo = criminal, even though Yakuza tattoos are pretty distinctive. Earlier this year there was a “scandal” (huge scare quotes) when a city employee showed his tattoo to someone in public. The resulting outcry of complaints from stupid people prompted the mayor to use a survey to find out which city employees had tattoos and whether or not they were visible.

Responding with “none of your fucking business”, a number of city employees refused to answer the survey. After being warned that silence would cost them their jobs, most of the holdouts relented - but not all. Six remained steadfast in exercising their rights, including the transit employee who ended up suing the city to protest his dismissal.

Not only did the court decide that he couldn’t be fired for refusing to answer personal questions, it also awarded him 5 million yen (over $63,000 US) in damages.

The kicker? Word is this guy doesn’t even have a tattoo. He just stood up to the system at great personal risk and he won.

I salute you, anonymous transit worker. As much as I believe in Hashimoto’s proposed reforms (seriously, Japanese bureaucracy is bloated beyond all reason) his social views are backwards and oppressive. Don’t forget, this is the guy who made it a law that teachers must sing the national anthem under penalty of dismissal. And let’s not even get into his revisionist views of history.

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Things that are legal in Japan:

  • kidnapping your children from your ex-spouse
  • taking your children to another country in defiance of a court order
  • possessing child pornography (outside of Kyoto or Nara)
  • insisting that job/housing/whatever applicants include a photo
  • turning down said applicants for being female/foreign/too old/”different”
  • charging new tenants thousands of dollars in non-refundable deposits

Things that are illegal in Japan

  • dancing in a bar or club after 1 AM
  • keeping your last name after you get married
  • renting a video game
  • modding a video game console (physically or via free software)
  • ripping a DVD or Blu-Ray
  • downloading copyrighted material from the internet

Those last two are criminal offenses as of today, meaning you could receive a jail sentence. So next time you’re considering using bittorrent, buy some kiddie porn instead! It’s safer.

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I recognize this is comparing apples and oranges, but I can’t help myself. Does this strike anyone else as absurd?

The Justice Ministry, confronted with fierce opposition from the business community, has scrapped plans to make it mandatory for companies to appoint outside directors.

The proposed revision to the Company Law was aimed at strengthening surveillance of corporate management by third parties, which have no constraints.

However, business circles were strongly opposed on grounds that powerful outside directors could limit the authority of management.

Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the nation’s largest business organization, said in an opinion submitted to the Legislative Council: “Surveillance of corporate management has been fully pursued by the board of directors and the board of auditors.”

full story

In case you haven’t heard, Japan has been rocked by corporate scandals as of late, so the government had a plan to address the lax oversight. But the corporations insisted they don’t need help supervising themselves (bang up job so far fellas!) and the government backed down.

Contrast that with the hastily approved measures in recent years (at the request of major media corporations, no doubt) that make it a criminal offense to distribute anything that facilitates tampering with a video game console or, starting October 1st, download copyrighted material from the Internet.

From where I sit, I see two disparate situations: if you are a corporation stealing millions from shareholders/the market/whatever, you don’t need any pesky government interference. But if you are an individual sharing information that threatens corporate profits, then fuck you, you’re going to jail.

They say “never assume malice,” so I ask you: is the Japanese government corrupt or incompetent?