Sunday, June 3, 2007

Japan closes cinema loophole in piracy fight

I just read this brief but interesting tid-bit about Japan passing legislation banning people from recording [new] movies in cinemas. It's interesting because I wasn't aware of Japan having a bootlegging problem. Therefore, I can only surmise from the information in this article, that this is a Japanese solidarity with the US. (The US has filed multiple complaints, if I'm not mistaken, through the WTO in regards to international copyright infringement on various US media.)

TOKYO - Japan has passed a law banning people from recording new movies in cinemas, officials said Friday, closing a loophole amid pressure from film studios to stop piracy they say is bleeding the industry.

The law, enacted by parliament this week, prohibits the taping of movies in theatres until eight months after a film's first release, an official at the lower house said.

Anyone who violates the law will face up to 10 years in prison or a maximum 10 million yen (83 billion dollars) fine.

Commercial piracy of movies was already banned under existing copyright law, but Japan allowed cinema-goers to record films strictly for private use.

"The new law is aimed at preventing loopholes in the copyright law. Before it was enacted, people could just make an excuse by saying it is for their own private use, even if their real objective was to make pirate videos and DVDs," the official said.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood studios, called the new law "a victory for the worldwide film industry."

It cited a study saying that piracy in Japan cost the film industry 742 million dollars in potential revenue in 2005.

"The passage of this law," the association's chairman Dan Glickman said in a statement, "serves as a reminder to governments around the world that every movie screen is a point of vulnerability and must be protected."

Last month, the United States formally lodged a complaint against China at the WTO over copyright piracy, protesting over fake DVDs and counterfeited luxury goods.

Canada has joined the effort, while the European Union and Japan say they are closely watching the matter, which could go to arbitration by the World Trade Organization if bilateral talks fail. AFP


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