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    Japan Launches Free Legal Service to Help Fight Overseas Pirate Sites / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 3 September - 20:14 · 2 minutes

japan-portal-small From a single piece of handcrafted manga to an entire musical album, copyright law offers protection to all creators.

At least that’s the basic theory behind creators’ rights. The reality can be a somewhat less comforting and at times entirely more confusing experience.

Smaller Copyright Holders, Fewer Options

The truth is that the ability to act against infringers is often linked to a copyright holder’s resources. If hiring a lawyer isn’t a problem, most smaller disputes can be handled relatively quickly. Those with free time may be able to handle simple matters independently, but since copyright law is complex, even larger rightsholders will seek help at some point.

Through a new initiative launched this week, the Japanese government is offering free legal assistance to rightsholders who wish to protect their content from copyright infringement, especially when that infringement takes place overseas.

Portal For Copyright Infringment Countermeasures

The service enhances a project operated by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. The agency launched a new portal in June, which explains the basics of copyright law and enables those without experience to send takedown notices.

This week the Agency for Cultural Affairs expanded its support for local rightsholders with the launch of a new service to help those who have visited the portal, absorbed all of the available knowledge, but still require further assistance.

Anti-Piracy Consultation Desk

In recent years there has been a realization in Japan that overseas piracy represents a growing threat to local copyright holders. The Ministry for Cultural Affairs published a report in March detailing responses to cross-border piracy, including the establishment of a new consultation desk to assist rightsholders.

“The Consultation Desk accepts consultations regarding infringement of copyrights, etc. from rightsholders. Consultation is accepted from the consultation reception form on the portal site,” the official announcement reads .

“In principle, responses will be made by e-mail, and depending on the case, it is assumed that a free individual interview with an attorney will be held online or otherwise.”

Given that legal costs in copyright matters can be substantial, the provision of a free service will be appreciated by rightsholders, especially the smaller ones with fewer resources. Those who make use of the service will gain access to a network of 1,000 lawyers, including copyright specialists with experience of fighting piracy in Asia, North America and the EU.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Japan declares war on floppy disks for government use / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 31 August - 15:48 · 1 minute

Japan declares war on floppy disks for government use

Enlarge (credit: Benj Edwards / Getty Images )

Japan's newly appointed Minister of Digital Affairs, Taro Kono, has declared war on the floppy disk and other forms of obsolete media, which the government still requires as a submission medium for around 1,900 types of business applications and other forms. The goal is to modernize the procedures by moving the information submission process online.

Kono announced the initiative during a press conference in Japan on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg . Legal issues have prevented the modernization to cloud data storage in the past, and Japanese government offices often use CDs, MiniDiscs , or floppy disks to accept submissions from the public and businesses. For example, Japan's Mainichi newspaper reported in December 2021 that Tokyo police lost two floppy disks containing information on 38 public housing applicants. A digital task force group led by Kono will announce how to fix those issues by the end of the year.

Shortly after taking office earlier this month, Kono announced his desire to modernize technology in the Japanese government, speaking out about Japan's reliance on hanko hand stamps during the COVID-19 pandemic and fax machines instead of email. He's also been outspoken about the subject on Twitter .

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    Movie Piracy Site Operator Faces Five Years in Prison After Arrest in Japan / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 13 July - 07:40 · 2 minutes

theater-movie-cinema In the 2000s, Japan was a relatively safe place for people with a penchant for downloading content without paying for it. Even those running torrent sites were relatively worry-free when compared to their United States counterparts.

Inevitably, it wouldn’t stay that way. While uploading copyrighted content was already illegal, in 2012 Japan criminalized unlicensed movie and TV show downloading, punishable by fines and up to two years in prison. In 2020, Japan’s parliament followed up by criminalizing those who download pirated manga.

But perhaps the most significant change was a law that outlawed indexing sites . Known as ‘leech’ or ‘reach’ sites in Japan, these are platforms that host no copyrighted content themselves but link to external platforms that do. Following amendments that came into effect on October 1, 2020, anyone operating such a site faces up to a five million yen fine, a five-year prison sentence, or potentially both.

It seems that some people didn’t get the memo.

Suspected ‘Reach’ Site Operator Arrested in Japan

According to a report from anti-piracy group CODA (Content Overseas Distribution Association), officers from the Gunma Prefectural Police Cyber Crime Division and Takasaki North Police Station have arrested a man on suspicion of operating an unnamed ‘reach’ site.

CODA says that the site’s domain was registered in February 2018. At least initially it was used as a movie information site, providing details of movies alongside their official trailers. At some point later, however, the site began linking to copies of pirated movies that had been uploaded to overseas file-hosting platforms.

Covering both Japanese and Western movies, the site offered links to around 3,300 titles according to local reports. CODA highlights two popular recent anime titles – ‘Gundam Reconguista in G Movie III: Legacy from Space’ and ‘Knights of Sidonia Atsumu Guhoshi’ – plus affected rightsholders Bandai Namco Filmworks and King Records Co. Ltd.

Man Told Police He Just Wanted to Share

The suspect, a 51-year-old unemployed man, was arrested in Asahi Town, Yamagata Prefecture. He is being investigated for copyright infringement offenses and is said to have generated revenue from advertising. In comments to police, he said that his love for movies made him want to share.

“I like movies, so I wanted everyone to see them,” he said .

CODA sees things differently, noting that ‘reach’/indexing sites play a crucial role in the piracy ecosystem by facilitating access to content that would be harder to find otherwise.

“Various copyrighted works are illegally uploaded to overseas storage sites. In many cases, information such as the title of the work is not described, and the file name is a list of meaningless characters, so the user cannot reach the content without a guidance window provided by the reach site,” the anti-piracy group says.

“CODA continues to investigate copyright infringement on the Internet, including reach sites, and will endeavor to promote sound regular distribution in which content is properly protected.”

In February this year, the Gunma Prefectural Police targeted the suspected operator of another indexing site. The man was arrested for offering links to thousands of movies and TV shows, including content owned by production companies Toei and Toho.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    How the World Is Reacting to Shinzo Abe’s Death / Time · Friday, 8 July - 11:38 · 3 minutes

World leaders paid tribute to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe , after he was fatally shot while campaigning for his political allies Friday morning.

Read More : Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Has Been Shot and Killed. What We Know So Far

A teary-eyed Fumio Kishida, Japan’s current prime minister, condemned the assassination when he appeared before Japanese reporters following news of Abe’s death. Kishida described Abe as a “personal friend” with whom he spent a lot of time.

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, a good friend of Abe’s, announced that July 9 will be a national day of mourning in India as a mark of “deep respect” for the late Japanese leader. Modi recalled how he visited Abe in his most recent trip to Japan, noting that he did not expect that that meeting would be their last.
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Abe had made big strides to improve diplomatic ties between Japan and India during his tenure, including the signing of a historic civil nuclear deal in 2016 .

European Council President Charles Michel decried the “cowardly” attack on Abe, whom he called “a true friend” and a “fierce defender of multilateral order and democratic values.” The European Union is a major trade and investment partner of Japan.

In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Abe was one of Australia’s “closest friends on the world stage.” During his first term in 2007, Abe initiated a four-way alliance between Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia that facilitated security and economic cooperation.

Outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that Abe’s “global leadership” will be remembered. “The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time,” he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sent his “deepest condolences” to Abe’s family and to Kishida in a tweet. While Japan is not a NATO member, Abe paved the way for a stronger partnership with the transatlantic alliance.

A spokesperson from the Chinese embassy in Japan expressed shock about Abe’s assassination in a statement and extended condolences to his family. During his premiership, Abe tried to improve relations between Japan and China, but his comments last year about Taiwan’s independence drew criticism from Beijing.

Abe became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister before stepping down in 2020 due to ill health. However, he has remained to be one of the most influential political figures in contemporary Japan.

On the streets of Tokyo, locals expressed disbelief. “The shooting of a prominent figure like Shinzo Abe, longest-serving prime minister in Japan, is profoundly shocking,” Kanae Hayakawa, a 36-year-old office worker, told TIME. “And now I’m afraid—the fact that such incident took place here in Japan reflects social instability and people’s discontent with society. I really hope the shooting incident will not trigger further instability here. And I also wonder how the incident will impact the election on Sunday.”

With reporting by Mayako Shibata in Tokyo

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    New Copyright Lawsuit Targets Uploaders of 10-Minute Movie Edits / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 24 May - 07:42 · 2 minutes

Sad YouTube When YouTube first got off the ground in 2005, most of its users would’ve been oblivious to how closely copyright law would govern their online activities moving forward.

Seventeen years later, with billions of internet users now both consumers and creators of content, people are becoming more educated. Terms such as DMCA, copyright strike and fair use are now regular features in YouTube content creator communities but that hasn’t necessarily led to fewer infringements or happier rightsholders.

Media companies in Japan believe that the use of overwhelming force to send a deterrent message may go some way to solving these problems.

The Rise of ‘Fast Movies’ Receives a Crushing Response

Up until last summer, so-called ‘Fast Movies’ didn’t seem like a key concern for the movie industry. These heavily edited copies of mainstream movies aim to summarize key plot lines via voice-over narration in about 10 minutes. While no replacement for the real thing, these edits accumulated millions of views and incurred the wrath of rightsholders, leading to the arrest of three people in Japan.

According to companies including Toho and Nikkatsu, these people infringed copyrights on a grand scale for monetary gain. After entering guilty pleas, last November all three received suspended prison sentences and were ordered to pay fines to the state. The deterrent messaging of that criminal case is now being underlined with a civil lawsuit.

13 Media Companies Want ‘Fast Movies’ Stamped Out

Last week, 13 member companies of the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) and Japan Video Software Association (JVA) filed a civil lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court. It targets the same three individuals convicted in last year’s criminal matter with the aim of recovering significant financial compensation for damages.

The plaintiffs – Asmik Ace, Kadokawa, Gaga, Shochiku, TBS Television, Toei, Toei Video, Toho, Nikkatsu, Nippon Television Network, Happinet Phantom Studio, Fuji Television, and WOWOW – claim infringement in 54 copyrighted works including ‘I Am a Hero’ and ‘Shin Godzilla’. Additional facts underlying the lawsuit were established during the earlier trial.

The defendants admitted running multiple YouTube channels leading to their ‘Fast Movies’ being viewed around 10 million times. The 13 plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit say that as a result, they collectively incurred damages of two billion yen, around $15.7 million.

For the purposes of their civil damages lawsuit, the plaintiffs have settled on a partial claim of ‘just’ 500 million yen ($3.9 million) against the three defendants collectively.

Sending a Strong Deterrent Message

Clear indications of how seriously the anti-piracy groups and media companies are taking this action were on display after the lawsuit was filed last week. A press conference was held in Tokyo with a representative of CODA and three attorneys present to answer questions on the case. (Image credit: CODA )

Those present, including CODA director Kenro Goto, highlighted that the three defendants committed criminal acts when they uploaded the movie edits and then profited from advertising revenue.

The civil action aims to underline those convictions with a strong message that rightsholders will not allow people to free-ride on creators’ content without facing significant financial consequences.

The overall message is one of deterrence coupled with the reaffirmation of copyright law, Goto said.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Omicron subvariant BA.2 continues global rise as experts assess mixed data / ArsTechnica · Friday, 18 February, 2022 - 23:53

Omicron subvariant BA.2 continues global rise as experts assess mixed data

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Xinhua News Agency )

A sub-lineage of the omicron coronavirus variant, dubbed BA.2, continues to increase steadily around the globe as scientists and health officials are still working to understand the risk it poses to public health.

So far, the overall data has been a mix. Some recent laboratory and animal data have suggested that BA.2 can cause more severe disease than the original omicron variant, BA.1. But, so far, that finding isn't bearing out in real-world data. Countries where BA.2 is dominant are not seeing higher rates of severe disease. And, many places seeing BA.2 increasing are also seeing cases decline, along with hospitalizations.

While animal experiments have hinted that BA.2 interacts differently to some immune responses than the original omicron variant, so far real-world vaccine data finds two doses and booster doses are just as effective—if not slightly more effective—against BA.2 than BA.1.

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    Radioactive snakes help scientists monitor fallout from Fukushima nuclear disaster / TheGuardian · Wednesday, 8 September, 2021 - 23:11

Glue and duct tape used to fit rat snakes with dosimeters and GPS movement trackers to help researchers understand long-term effects of radiation

Researchers have used snakes fitted with tracking devices and dosimeters to measure radiation levels in the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant, which suffered triple meltdowns in March 2011.

The meltdowns in Japan caused by a giant tsunami released more radiation into the atmosphere than any nuclear disaster except Chernobyl in 1986.

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    Japan’s economy bounces back as Covid restrictions ease / TheGuardian · Monday, 16 August, 2021 - 16:48

Economic output defies expectations to expand in Q2 – but analysts warn of contraction risk

Japan’s economy recovered strongly in the second quarter to join the turnaround seen across G7 countries as the easing of lockdown restrictions sent consumers rushing to the shops.

Beating the expectations of City analysts, the world’s third largest economy also capitalised on global trade’s return to health with a surge in exports.

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